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Wildlife in Chile

With an exceptional variety in geography and climate, few animal species are found throughout the full length of the Chile.

In the altiplano you can find llamas, vicunas and alpacas as well as the more commonly spotted guanaco. Guanacos are found in the arid north as well as in southern Patagonia, as are ñandúes, an emu-like land bird, and various species of flamingo. The elusive spotted puma makes his home in the Andes, and although the cat itself is rarely seen, leftovers of its kills are more common. The Andean condor can often be seen soaring high above snow-capped peaks and as the largest flying bird seeing them in action is a truly magnificent spectacle. The southern Patagonia forests also provide habitat for the elusive pudú, the smallest deer in the world, and the huemul a larger deer species.

The vast Chilean coastline carries an abundance of wildlife, due to the Humboldt Current, dragging cold nutrient-rich waters northwards along the coast. Rockhopper, Macaroni, Magellanic and Humboldt penguins are inhabitants of Chilean waters, elephant seals and South American fur seals also frequent the same shores and waters.


The puma – also known as the cougar, mountain lion, panther or catamount – is the world’s most adaptable big cat. The species can be found all the way from the Canadian Rockies to the tip of South America, making its home in a variety of forests, deserts, steppes, scrublands, grasslands and mountainous areas. There are plenty of places where one can spot a puma, but it is the dense cloud forest of Mashpi that offer by far the best puma tracking experience in Ecuador. Another cat that patrols the cloud forests of Mashpi is the ocelot, stealthy, nocturnal and incredibly beautiful with its spotted coat. This medium-sized cat is an excellent hunter of rodents like agouti, mice and squirrels and also of birds and snakes. There is an exceptionally high density of cats in the Torres del Paine National Park thanks to an abundance of prey, a vast area to roam uninhabited by humans, and the fact that it is strictly forbidden to hunt pumas in Chile. Pumas in Patagonia tend to be bigger than the North American ones due to the favourable living conditions.

Sl Chile Puma Credit Pie Aerts


The puma may be at the top of the food chain here, but it is not the largest inhabitant of Patagonia by any stretch. That honour goes to the guanaco, a wild relative of the llama that is at least three times the size of a fully grown puma. Standing at two metres tall and living in herds, this species of camelid has been called “the continent’s most challenging prey”. Most guanacos live in herds. They run when threatened, and their best chance of escaping a predator, such as a mountain lion or fox, is to do it all together. If they run in a group, this may confuse the predator, making it harder to focus on any one individual.

Birdlife In Chile

Chile is home to a diverse bird population, with numerous species of eagles, condors, hummingbirds, and waterfowl. The elegant Chilean flamingo can be found in wetlands and salt flats. Chile is also home to several penguin colonies, with the Magellanic penguin being one of the most well-known. These penguins breed along the coasts of southern Chile.

Andean Condor

The largest flying bird with a wingspan of up to 10.5 feet, the Andean condor is one of Chile’s most distinctive species. Andean condors are found in mountainous regions, as their name suggests, but also live near coasts replete with ocean breezes and even vast deserts with warm breezes. Condors are vultures, so always keep a sharp eye out for carrion for which they can scavenge on. Although the Andean condor is considered threatened, reintroduction programs are working to grow populations of these South American birds.