Wildlife and highlights of a safari in Chile

Squeezed in between the Andes on the east, and the Pacific Ocean on the west, both running the entire length of the country, Chile is made up of an incredible variety of contrasting and overwhelming landscapes. The north of the country flaunts the driest desert in the world, the Atacama Desert, and the south hosts myriad stunning lakes and glaciers that feed into Pacific Fjords. The Andes, the backbone of Chile, rise high above these stunning landscapes, and with lots of active volcanoes scattered through the country, the peaks themselves are often a natural wonder on their own. 

There is also over 4,000 kilometres of coastline dotted with spectacular islands and beautiful beaches.

Flora, Fauna & National Parks

Similarly, the flora and fauna, are incredibly varied, and in the most part are endemic, not found anywhere else on the planet making a wildlife holiday to Chile a perfect choice. There are many unique ecosystems that have been conserved in what is considered one of the best National Park Systems in the Americas, the most famous being Torres del Paine, in Southern Patagonia. Comprising many national parks and reserves, representing nineteen per cent of its total landmass, it also boasts eight UNESCO World Biosphere Reserves highlighting its abundance of biodiversity.

In the Atacama Desert, the ‘flowering desert’ is a phenomenon unique to Chile, where wildflowers blossom in the middle of this arid altiplano between September and November. During spring, the El Niño current leads to an increase in rainfall and this rare occurrence can be witnessed in areas close to Copiapó, and further south in the area near La Serena and Coquimbo. 

In the south, you find one of the largest temperate forests in the world, home to 4000 year old larch trees, and majestic araucarias.

Chilean Wildlife

Due to the exceptional variety in geography and climate, few animals are found throughout the full length of the country. 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. 

Migrating whales and dolphins are commonly spotted be in the waters of Patagonia.

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