Puma Tracking and Wildlife Photo Adventure
The Patagonia Puma Tracking and Wildlife Photo Adventure is an exploration into Torres del Paine’s unique wildlife, led by photo & wildlife professional and supported by a special team of trackers.
Each day you will try to find Patagonia's most elusive animals, enjoying moments of intimacy with the enigmatic Andean puma (mountain lion) and endangered South Andean deer while discovering and photographing the park’s geology, spectacular sunrises & sunsets and native flora & fauna. Evenings are spent at the EcoCamp in its sustainable geodesic Suite Domes.
On the first Patagonia Puma Tracking outing in February 2014, guests saw a total of six pumas over four days of morning and evening outings.The program has a maximum number of five guests per tour, but will go ahead even if just one person reserves. The reason for the maximum limit of five guests is that this adventure uses a special van made for such outings and with sufficient space for a guide, driver and guests. We also believe that smaller groups add value to the excursion.
We advise guests to stay in Punta Arenas or Puerto Natalaes the night before the tour begins because the first outing is on the afternoon of day one. Also, on the last morning there is an early excursion followed by lunch and departures to onward destinations.
Day 1 Arrival, The Patagonian Adventure starts
The trip begins with you being picked up from your hotel in Punta Arenas or Punta Arenas airport in the morning and driven to EcoCamp Patagonia, located in the world-famous Torres del Paine National Park. Alternatively you can start your trip in El Calafate / Argentina. Arrive at EcoCamp in time for lunch before heading out on a half day excursion. Overnight stay at EcoCamp Patagonia, nestled in the heart of the park with a view of the Torres. During summer the sun sets around 11pm, so upon arrival there's plenty of light to admire the Patagonian steppe with its guanacos and snow-peaked mountain horizon. After dinner our guide, wildlife expert Diego Araya, gives a briefing on the upcoming days and the wildlife we’ll be seeing.
Days 2, 3, 4 & 5, Wildlife Exploration
We start off each day early, photographing the sunrise from distinct locations while enjoying hot coffee and breakfast on the go. Our puma/cougar tracking team, already hard at work, will be in radio contact to let us know how they’re doing. Throughout the trip they will be letting us know the location of the park's most elusive animals including the Andean puma (mountain lion) and the endangered huemul (South Andean deer) so that we can head to the sites where they are as soon as they're spotted.
We will usually begin our wildlife exploration close to EcoCamp, in the park’s eastern sector, making the most of the beautiful morning light and animal activity. We enjoy around six hours of wildlife observation, studying and photographing the park’s native flora & fauna, guided by Diego's photography tips, before heading back to EcoCamp for lunch and relaxation time.
In the afternoons, after the peak sun hours with little animal movement, we head out again, this time to the park’s western sector where we enjoy the beautiful landscapes and flora & fauna to be found. We visit landmark places such as Grey Glacier and other striking natural monuments. Our guide Diego takes us through the different habitats and ecosystems in the area, introducing us to the unique and colourful wildlife of Torres del Paine and teaching us the methodology for responsible observing wildlife. After photographing the iconic Patagonian sunset over the Paine massif we return to EcoCamp for dinner and well-earned rest.
N.B. In the event of bad weather alternative activities will be planned, for example to scenic waterfall Paine Grande or Laguna Azul.
Day 6 Departure
Today we enjoy a final half-day excursion before having a final lunch at EcoCamp, loading our luggage into the van and saying goodbye to EcoCamp’s staff as we drive back alongside the Patagonian pampa to the airport to catch our onward flight.
N.B. Book a late flight or early one for the next day as you will not arrive in Punta Arenas until evening.
Diego Araya - Professional Photographer and Expert Wildlife Guide
Diego has always been passionate about nature and wildlife. During his studies in Marine Biology he began to explore photography in search of intimacy and complicity with animals. Once he got his college degree, and after some travels around Europe and North America, he found work with the national Park Service in Chile running projects related to ecotourism and conservation. In 2004 he left behind his professional achievements and urban conveniences to live in Patagonia in pursuit of his long-life dream and to be one with nature. Over the years he has managed to create one of the finest and most complete professional photography archives of Patagonian wildlife together with becoming one of the most qualified residents in tracking, approximation and photography of the fauna in the region.
Diego featured in the BBC's “The Dark” in Torres del Paine and in 2009 he published Patagonia 237, his first book. A 300 page, big format coffee table book financed by Nikon Chile. In 2010 he started working as expedition staff and zodiac driver on the Antarctic Dream Vessel accumulating over 100 days in Antarctica experience. At the moment he is an professional wildlife photographer, EcoCamp Photo Adventure Tour Guide, and is working on several editorial and tourism projects.
Your booking is based on Chilean pesos (CLP), but you pay in US$ (USD), using the exchange rate valid on the day of payment which will be shown in your order. This exchange rate may vary between the date you pay your deposit and the date you pay your outstanding balance, but rest assured this is the best way to keep our prices competitive and ensure the best rate for you!
The trip starts with pick ups and ends with drop offs in Punta Arenas, Puerto Natales or El Calafate.
The pick up on day 1 for this special group departure is latest 12:30 pm and the drop off on day 6 is 5:00 pm at the earliest.
The weather in Patagonia can be difficult to deal with at times. We reserve the right to change the order of the days in any itinerary at the discretion of the trip guide and based on operational considerations. The trip guide can modify, change or eliminate part of the itinerary based on safety/weather considerations.
In Torres del Paine and throughout Patagonia transport is in minivans that normally seat from 8 to 14 people. Pick up / Drop off times shown in the Weekly Transfer Board are approximate and will be confirmed locally by our operations team. An exclusive toll-free emergency number will be available for anyone needing additional support while they are in Chile.
The vast unbroken stretch of ocean to the west and south of the South American continent leaves the Patagonian Andes very exposed to winds that circle the Antarctic landmass. In addition, the strong marine influence and the affect of the Southern Patagonia Ice field make the weather hard to predict. In spring or early summer fine weather may deteriorate almost without warning, bringing rain and even snow. Even in summer (December to March) you should come prepared to find strong cold winds (up to 130km/hr) and rainfall. The summer’s average temperature is 11ºC/52ºF (24ºCmax, 2ºC min). However, just as quickly as the weather turns nasty, it can become lovely and sunny. So come prepared for all types of weather!
The Easy trip options do not demand extensive physical activity, other than walking a maximum of two consecutive hours over fairly flat terrain. We stop as many times as necessary depending on the rhythm of the group. Travelers doing the active excursions will find them more energetic and to enjoy these more active treks it is essential to be in shape before arriving. All trails visited in the programs are under 1,000m / 3,000ft high so passengers don’t need to worry about altitude.