Full Puma safari in Torres del Paine, Chilean Patagonia

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Posted (edited)

Dear members.

I will be on friday morning in Torres del Paine National Park, to track pumas with a specialized guide. I just can´t wait to be there, this is the best fauna trip ever in Patagonia, THE trip I want to organize since the settlement in Chile 4 years ago...

We hope to see huemules too...


The park si located just south from the Hielo Sur, the biggest Ice field outside the poles. It is one of the best preserved patagonian steppe landscape in Southern Patagonia. Land of sub-antartic woods, glacial lakes, huge guanacos herds, endangered huemules or patagonian deers, the jewel of the park is definitely the Paine Range.


Some few pictures available on this nature forum:


We will stay at Pehoe Hotel at less than half an hour from the best place to spot puma.

The guide is Roberto Donoso from

Safaris are also offered by another famous company I really like in Chile:


I'll prepare a short trip report few weeks later.





Edited by jeremie

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@@jeremie I've moved this topic to the World Wide Trip planning subforum.


Look forward to hearing more when you return. Matt

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Look forward to hearing more when you return. Matt



me too

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Posted (edited)

I am just back from an amazing puma safaris.


This was truly a full intensive puma safari during 5 days, searching for this elusive cat from 5:30 to 22:00. I have been really exhausted.

We have seen 7 different cats for 8 different observations, simply amazing, Torres del Paine is definitely the best place throughout the Americas to spot el "leon de las pampas".

We made two high quality observations:

- 3 hours with a huge male and a young female close to Laguna Goic, really wild specimen. We spent something like two hours to get closer to the female (something like 45 meters I guess). The male got up terrified, and escaped as soon he realized our presence (80 meters).

- 4 hours with the "Reina" of the park. Amazing observation of our guide Roberto analyzing the behavior of each guanaco.

We followed her laying in the golden grass close to a small Ñirres wood, then tried to catch a few guanacos (too far to try any catch). She then went back to an old guanaco carcass definitely to old to satisfy her appetite close to a small lagoon.

Then left the place to evaluate the possibility of another kill of a solitary guanaco, who was trying to intimidate her.

She eventually disappeared in a small wood really close to the road. Astonishing experience.


I have been impressed by the abundance of guanacos and density of pumas. They do not seem to have strict territories.


I will start the report as soon as posible, there are many pictures to select and edit.

I hope this report will give some good ideas to some few persons of this comunity.

Edited by jeremie
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Wonderful news! Looking forward to your accounts.

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WOW I can't wait for this one; I love South American and Torres del Paine,


really looking forward to more,

huge excitement

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Posted (edited)

We are chilean resident from Santiago, so it was quite easy to reach Chilean Patagonia for us.


Flights are available with Skyairline of LAN at 120.000 CLP. They different daily flight available (day and night flights).

The closest airport is Punta Arenas located on the shore of the Magellan strait, in the far South of Patagonia. It takes almost 3 hours and a half to make the 2200 km between Punta Arenas and Santiago. Locals say that the new airport at Puerto Natales will be ready in 3 more years to receive tourists closer to the Torres del Paine National Park and avoid the 3 hours trip between Punta Arenas and Puerto Natales.




Map of the Magellan Region of Chile



There are many good hotels on Punta Arenas, however, we stayed at a simple cheap hostal in the city. Transport is available at arrivals to the city center by van or private taxi. By bus it cost 3.000 CLP to get to your hotel.


Highlights around Punta Arenas:


While Punta Arenas is generally used as a main gateway to Patagonia and more especially Torres del Paine, there are many amazing spots to visit just around the city.


  • Daily tours are offered to visit the Magdalena Island in the Magellan strait, where you can interact with a colony of Magellan penguins, beyond the 150.000 birds.


  • Another tour on the Tierra de Fuego island to visit the only continental colony of king penguins that are usually found through the antarctic islands belt (Falklands, Crozet, Kerguelen...). They settled and started to breed few year ago on the shores of a small sheep estancia in Bahia Inutil. Scientists think they used to breed on the island a long time ago before the local native hunters Selknam extirpated the penguins from the american continent. It is recommended to book the trip in advance as only limited tourist are allowed per day to reduce stress on the penguins.
  • I think tours are offered from Punta Arenas, I will have further information in january as I will be back in Patagonia on that date. Otherwise it is posible to rent a car and cross the strait to visit the colony.


  • Still on Tierra de Fuego island, the World Conservacion Society protects a large area in Southern Tierra del Fuego called Karukinka. This property has been donated by Goldman Sachs while it was destined for forestry purposes. This 3.000 km2 private reserve conserves and important ecosystem of sub-antartic woods and peatlands. It is a paradise for guanacos, magellan woodpeckers, southern river otters, the southernmost austral parakeets populations, green-backed fire crown hummingbirds, black-browed albatross. Seal leopards can be found around the huge glaciar flooding inside the Parry sound while an elephant seal colony settled on the shores of the Almirantazgo found. The colony of black-browed albatross is really special as it is the only continental breeding population, while the seal elephant colony is the only one found in Chile.
  • Accommodation is available for visitors in the park, as well as a set of trails for trekkers and bikers. Fly fishing is offered on a lodge on Lago Escondido.
  • It is quite hard to reach the park, WCS highly recommend to hire a car. Karunkinka shores can be visited by boat, whack I'll explain in the following parragraph.


All the following pictures are legacy of Karukinka website:

















  • The Forrest M/V is a small luxury boat that offers cruises through the chilean channels. Different tours are offered to visitors. The shortest one goes to Island Carlos III inside the Francisco Coloane Marine Park to observe the humpback whales between december to april. Kayaking with whales is one of the hotspots of this fabulous trip. They also offer tours during winter months to the Skyriing sound. Another tour goes to the Darwin range with its huge glaciers flooding inside the see. A full trip focused on wildlife offers whales and glaciers places. I would in this case highly recommend to travel with Patagonia Photo Safaris which is specialized in wildlife and nature photography. They rent the boat and go in very special places out of the beaten tracks.
  • My friend traveled with Patagonia Photo Photography this year, it was absolutely fantastic. Jumping whales, albatross, cormorant, sea lions, elephant seals, penguins and condor are commonly seen during the trip. The scenery is just amazing, really wild, pristine. The best trip in Patagonia in my opinion right now.

Few pictures of my friend Karina Abarca Ugalde:






















I think I will make a visit of the whales and the king penguins in early january if I decide not to go to los Glaciares National Park in Argentina.


Reaching Puerto Natales is easy, there are many scheduled buses. From Puerto Natales, it takes an extra hour and a half to reach the limit of the Torres del Paine National Park.

Scheduled buses go to Laguna Amarga Entrance. Private transport are available to your hotel in or outside the park.

Here is the main website of the park, all the information can be found clicking on that link:


Highlights around Puerto Natales:


Apart from Torres del Paine, there is a cruise going to Balmaceda and Serrano glaciers that flood in the sound of Ultima Esperanza.

Daily buses go to el Chalten to visit the los Glaciares National Park in Argentina, famous for its giant glaciar such as Perito Moreno, Upsala and Viedma going down from the largest ice field outside the poles called Hielo Sur. These glaciers are slightly smaller than the ones on the chilean side, they can reach up to 50 km long, making them the largest glaciers in the southern hemisphere. In fact glaciers in Pakistan Karakoram range, as well as Pamir and Tian Shan ranges in Tajikistan and Kirghizistan are bigger than the Hielo Sur glaciers.


Our puma photographic safari was a al inclusive trip from Punta Arenas. We met our guide Roberto Donoso at Punta Arenas on day 1 at 8:00 am, and left directly for Puerto Natales and then Torres del Paine. First part of the trip follows the Magellan Strait, where Magellan goose can be seen in every corner... The road cross the patagonian pampa also called patagonian steppe. It then goes along the eastern limit of the sub-antartic woods, principally made of "lenga" trees.

The huge fires that occurred during the colonization period let really weird landscapes of dead trees everywhere.

Puerto Natales is located on the shores of the northernmost sound called "Última Esperanza" or the last chance, as it was considered by the navigator Juan Ladrillo as its last chance to reach the Magellan Strait from the Pacific while looking for the shortest way between both oceans.


Sheeps are everywhere and endemic guanacos sadly totally absent from the landscape until reaching Torres del Paine National Park and its splendid granite towers.


We drove directly to the hotel to take a short lunch and then started our first safari looking for pumas and general wildlife.

Few pictures of our hotel taken on lake Pehoe shores, just in front of "los Cuernos del Paine":


The website:

The pictures:







As Pehoe Hotel is just one of the few places located inside the borders of the national park, it is a really good option for puma safaris. It is only 30 minutes away from the best puma spots of the park. Roberto also offer a more luxurious option in a small estancia strangely inserted within the park limits: Hotel las Torres is located and hour from the puma spots.


I highly recommend to stay at Pehoe Hotel for the amazing view over the Paine range, perfectly located for sunrise and sunset pictures on the shores of lake Pehoe. It is also an asset to stay at only 30 minutes of the best puma spots considering safari starts at 6:00 and finish generally at dawn, lets say 22:00 in mid november or 23:00 in early december. As we could expect of big gate, they are nocturnal animals and peaks of observations happen at sunrise and sunset.


Here is the link of Patagonia Journey, the agency of Roberto. They are only 4 guides specialized in puma at Torres del Paine, and Roberto is definitely the best guide for pumas. Most of the international agencies now book with him.


I also recommend Natphoto which has many years of experience tracking pumas in TDP. They are now offering different photographic expeditions in very special places and do not work all the time in Patagonia. Rodrigo and Cristina are two amazing guides and recognized nature photographs.


To be continued...

Edited by jeremie
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After lunch, we left Hotel Pehoe around 3:00 pm to have a look to pumas.

We stayed on the Sarmiento Sector, between Puesto Medio and the Sarmiento Gate.


We tried on the beach of the lake Sarmiento, along the road too, but the guanacos were really confident, we did not hear any alarm calls nor movements of pumas.


Here are some few pics of this first afternoon of safari in Torres del Paine National Park.


Some Darwin rhea just outside the park:






Some few pics of Upland or Magellan male goose








As we did not find any puma, we stayed some time with a guanaco family group close to Laguna Guanaco






Another Magellan geese at Laguna los Juncos, Sarmiento Gate. Note the female (brown color) is clearly different than the male. Not to be confused with the ruddy-headed goose, nearly extirpated from the american continent. Hopefully still thriving on the Falklands.




We eventually tried on the Laguna Amarga sector, checking the cliffs over the Pedro canyon, offering wonderful view of the Paine range in the storm, the milky Paine river and turquoise Nordenskjold lake.



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Safaris organization


We get up at 4:30 and start our safari at 5:00 am. We eventually decided to go on full safari without stopping during the day until sunset. Roberto prepared all the days a simple lunch pack. We have been really happy about it as we did not have to go back to the hotel loosing time and could finally enjoy nature all the time.


This is the map of Torres del Paine National Park




The safaris focused between Sarmiento lake and Pedro canyon just South of Paine river. This area is a plateau dominating the Paine river that offers really good grass habitat for guanaco. Furthermore, the steppe habitat is really good for clear puma observation compared to forest habitat in the Western part of the park.

I eventually guess this place has the larger biomass of the park.


Here is another map from google earth displaying the different pumas observation points throughout the trip:



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Posted (edited)

Day 2


We wake up at 4:30, left the hotel at 5:00 and chose Sarmiento circuit first. No guanaco calls.


We then drove on the Laguna Amarga circuit. Roberto observed some guanacos calling really close to the road. Just time to take the camera, walt 50 meters along the road and we saw our first puma climbing on the west side of the road. It seemed really young, perhaps a youngster migrating to establish in a new territory.


It was so quick that I didn't have time to take any picture. Karina even did not see it.


It climbed real quickly on the hill and disappeared down in the canyon. I am really amazed to see how these big animals (nearly 100 kg for patagonian puma males) can disappear. They are really the ghosts of Patagonia.

It was my second puma as we saw one last year at night at Madidi National Park, Bolivia. Much bigger. The ones in the Amazonia seem really thin while patagonian animals are really masive.


We then looked for another one on the ridge over the Pedro Canyon, just a perfect place for puma for resting.


There was a group of males guanacos fighting as it november is mating season. The males are fighting all the time, beating, splitting on the other ones.

Here is a set of pictures of the guanacos fighting just in front of the Almirante Nieto summit:





































The Almirante Nieto summit in the storm:




We discovered a small culpe fox in a small cave while looking for puma:




A typical pampa landscape from the Laguna Amarga circuit (faunal trail).




The storm over the Almirante Nieto:




Edited by jeremie
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Love this report, Jeremie, thank you so much for sharing. The landscapes are incredibly beautiful, and I always enjoy seeing animals from other parts of the world. Great Guanaco shots! Now, looking forward to the Puma ... :)

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Fantastic scenery and images @@jeremie

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Really enjoying this. Thanks for sharing.

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@@jeremie Fantastic photos and loving the sounds of your experience! This kind of trip is definitely on my list!

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Another thank you as well @jermie; the photos are beautiful as is the scenery. Thank you for such detailed information on guides, the area, etc. as well. Planning a trip to Torres Del Paine can be quite overwhelming for a first timer. You broke it down logically so one could follow you well for the Puma :D

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Here are some pretty nice images from Torres del Paine, from a BBC series trilogy about Wild Patagonia:

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Great video! @@jeremie and it reminds me of your report! any chance you might finish this report and show us your puma photos? Please...? :)

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Nice this popped up again. The coloring of those llamas and the landscape is gorgeous! I think @afariChick is planning some puma time.

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@SafariChick: I definitely need to go on with these pics.

@Atravelynn: These animals are called guanaco, they should be the ancestors of the domesticated llamas.


I have been back in march in Torres del Paine, not especially looking for puma. One day we were awaken up by guanacos alarm calls while we were camping just outside of the park. There was one puma with big calf going down the hill. Gorgeous moment!

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@@jeremie that would be great if you continue with them! How lucky to see a mother and baby when you were not even looking for one! @@Atravelynn you are right that I would love to go try to see pumas eventually but nothing in the planning at the moment. My husband really wants to go to Patagonia though so that is one we would probably do together.

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Hi Jeremie,


This is a very nice report, and wonderful pictures! It seems to be another world... I can't wait to see your puma pictures! :)

Maybe one day, I will go on the puma tracks too...



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Posted (edited)

Well, I never find the time and the will to finish this report.


I have been back to Torres del Paine twice since this trip and I have seen pumas each. 2 pumas in February 2016, 8 pumas in November 2016.


I will let you few pictures about the trip.



Puma eating guanaco around Sarmiento lake.


31206917846_03b3a0647a_z.jpgPuma - Cougar - Puma concolor by Goulevitch Jérémie, sur Flickr


Same puma at 10 meters from us!


31180888961_4f5c7f8168_z.jpgPuma - Cougar - Puma Concolor by Goulevitch Jérémie, sur Flickr


Few condors on Goic Lake northern shore.

15805744128_3e5923c292_z.jpg_JG06862 by Goulevitch Jérémie, sur Flickr


15370888134_35e9df1ed2_z.jpg_JG06852small by Goulevitch Jérémie, sur Flickr


15992407892_3ce34d9806_z.jpg_JG06868 by Goulevitch Jérémie, sur Flickr


15967292756_5a796bee0e_z.jpg_JG06898 by Goulevitch Jérémie, sur Flickr


The Pekoe Hotel on the Pekoe lake, not the best place to stay but what a view!

15370801504_a25c3912fd_z.jpg_JG07443 by Goulevitch Jérémie, sur Flickr


15370767514_03a3716dde_z.jpg_JG07998 by Goulevitch Jérémie, sur Flickr



Taking pictures of pumas, they are generally 20-30 meters from us. We had to go slowly to them, 1 to 2 hours. If pumas got confident, you can get really close to them (10 meters).

15373526213_442aee3abb_z.jpgIMG_4337 by Goulevitch Jérémie, sur Flickr


15991162341_31f41421b5_z.jpgIMG_4338 by Goulevitch Jérémie, sur Flickr


15992993295_6a9a557e47_z.jpgIMG_4393 by Goulevitch Jérémie, sur Flickr

Edited by jeremie
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We only stayed three nights at Serrano Hotel this time and had two full days for puma safari last october. We have seen 8 different pumas (4 cubs).

Serrano hotel is located really far from the puma area, I do not recommend this place for puma safaris, but it is a very nice luxury hotel.

You should prefer las Torres Hotel which is only 20 minutes from the best area of the park.


Rules changed in the park, it is now prohibited leaving the trails and the main road within the national park, making much more difficult to see pumas inside the park.

The guides have then negotiated with the Goic Estancia owners to us the farm for puma safaris. The estancia is located just east of the main puma area inside the park. It is a former sheep ranch which has the perfect habitat for pumas, with lots of caves which is just perfect for them to rest.

The use of the farm per day is really high, safaris are thus much more expensive than before.


Here some few pictures of this last trip.


30231516904_a3673da1e1_c.jpgAmanecer Macizo Paine, Mirador Nordenskjöld by Goulevitch Jérémie, sur Flickr


30829066876_600dcd8e61_c.jpgGuanaco, Sector Peninsula by Goulevitch Jérémie, sur Flickr


30973574196_a09d633cc4_c.jpgAtardecer, Macizo del Paine by Goulevitch Jérémie, sur Flickr


30707328010_ee1c5846b9_c.jpgGuanaco y Torres del Paine by Goulevitch Jérémie, sur Flickr


30705219516_0ab56c65a2_c.jpgCuernos del Paine - Torres del Paine - Chile by Goulevitch Jérémie, sur Flickr


30740393046_e8de6f994f_c.jpgPuma - Cougar - Puma concolor by Goulevitch Jérémie, sur Flickr


30764753256_2c025c44b3_c.jpgCaiquen - Upland goose - Chloephaga picta by Goulevitch Jérémie, sur Flickr


30973450446_75908bdab2_c.jpgCarancho - Southern crested caracara - Caracara plancus by Goulevitch Jérémie, sur Flickr


30618097522_f116d8901c_c.jpgPuma - cougar - puma concolor by Goulevitch Jérémie, sur Flickr


31008784815_6789cfc51d_c.jpgPanorama Laguna Goic by Goulevitch Jérémie, sur Flickr


22830130708_2461ed055b_c.jpgPanorama, Macizo Paine desde Goic by Goulevitch Jérémie, sur Flickr


22830017058_8b34929a6a_c.jpgPanorama, Macizo Paine desde Lago Pehoe by Goulevitch Jérémie, sur Flickr


31215143555_e1af68c6d1_c.jpgZorro Chilla - South American gray fox - Lycalopex griseus by Goulevitch Jérémie, sur Flickr


31101513671_1dcf7685ac_c.jpgPuma - Cougar - Puma concolor by Goulevitch Jérémie, sur Flickr


32115028036_cb1f77cd40_c.jpgtest_JG08206 by Goulevitch Jérémie, sur Flickr

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The last pictures are form us, well, from Karina and Roberto Donoso the Big Boss (our fantastic puma guide)!


31778429460_5153ef8d0c_c.jpg_JG08035 by Goulevitch Jérémie, sur Flickr


31778418900_8d84d20d52_c.jpg_JG08073 by Goulevitch Jérémie, sur Flickr


31312001644_4accb240cc_c.jpg_JG08013 by Goulevitch Jérémie, sur Flickr


31312014974_34a1d112eb_c.jpg_JG08011 by Goulevitch Jérémie, sur Flickr


32153546435_d9259ba1f8_c.jpg_JG08008 by Goulevitch Jérémie, sur Flickr

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@@jeremie stunning photos - thank you so much for adding these! What an amazing place - must get there some day!

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