Wildlife Guide

Wildlife Guide

Explore Patagonia's Biodiversity

Andean puma

This beautiful big cat is the largest predator in Patagonia and the southern-most dweller of all its relatives. Although once endangered, the Chilean government made the hunting of pumas illegal in 1980, and their numbers have now increased. Pumas take full advantage of the varied terrain in Torres del Paine and are able to live in the cold, warmth, forest & mountains. They can be tricky to spot, and are most often seen at dusk and dawn when out hunting for one of their favourite dishes...guanacos!

You'd be very lucky to spot a puma whilst on a regular hiking trip in Patagonia. Our dedicated puma tracking experts know these areas like the back of their hands, and give you the very best chances of observing pumas in their natural habitat.

Chloe says

Whales

There are four main type of whales to be found in Patagonia: the Orca or 'killer whale', the humpback whale, the Southern Right whale, and the blue Whale. 

Peninsula Valdes is the place to go for both southern right whales (June-December) and Orcas (September, March & April). 

humpback whales can be seen in southern Patagonia, for example on a whale watching adventure cruise, and blue whales can be spotted off of the Island of Chiloe

southern right whale 2

Penguins

Penguins Rey - SWX (CRUC) p-p

Penguin reserves can be found throughout Chilean Patagonia, from Punta Arenas and Ushuaia to Peninsula Valdes, and Chiloe Island. Magellanic penguins are the most widespread of the breeds to be found in Patagonia, but it is also possible to see Humboldt penguins, gentoo penguins, and even king Penguins!

If you're totally penguin mad, then you might consider visiting the Great White Continent- Antarctica for even more breeds, and very different scenery!

Southern Elephant Seals

Elephant seals are common in Patagonia and get their name from the strange shape of the male's nose which looks like an elephant's trunk. Seals can be found throughout the islands of Patagonia and kayaking is a great way to get up close to this creature.

Two of the best places to find sea lion colonies are in Tierra del Fuego and the Peninsula Valdes UNESCO World Heritage Site where you can kayak with them along the coast and paddle right up to their colony. Alternatively, you can see them in abundance on an Antarctic cruise.

fauna 1

Condors

The Andean condor (from the vulture family) can be found throughout Patagonia. Often seen circling the iconic Torres del Paine, or above Laguna Armaga, swooping down to feast on the remains of a puma's guanaco kill. This impressive bird has a wing span of 3.2 metres, the largest of any land bird. It is currently considered as 'nearly endangered' by the International Union for Conservation of Nature. This condor trip is designed to take you off-the-beaten-track to known condor nesting sites in Torres del Paine National Park.

If you're a keen birder check out this Chiloe island bird watching trip - unmissable for any bird enthusiast!

Condor 1

Huemul Deer

This endangered deer has short legs & a stocky build, enabling it to live on rocky terrain & climb mountain passes with ease. It's one of the most elusive animals in Patagonia & became a Chilean National Natural Monument in 2006. Despite this status, it's currently under threat from changes in its natural habitat, and predation by the puma. Your best chance of spotting one is on a hike in Torres del Paine, particularly in the vicinity of Lago Grey and Off the Beaten Track a little, for example in the Silencio Valley. Patagonia Park in Aysen is another great location for spotting them.

Huemul_Deer_CN

Guanacos

There are thought to be over 1,500 of this descendent of the llama species in Torres del Paine National Park alone. They live in herds for protection and to rear their young.  They're very energetic animals who run around chasing one another, and mothers are fiercely protective of their young so it's best not to get too close! 

You're likely to see guanacos on almost any trip to Torres del Paine National Park.

Guanacos-TdP-small-SD-p-p

South American Sea Lions

SeaLionsValdes-HT

These fierce yet fragile creatures are on of the largest inhabitant species of the Valdes Peninsula's coast, reaching up to 3 metres long, and weighing up to 350kg. Groups of males (who can be recognised by the thick mane covering their neck and chest) begin to colonise the area from December, and they defend their territory aggressively (beware!), whilst awaiting the arrival of the females. Each male has a hareem of up to 10 females, who give birth to their young a few days after arrival on the Peninsula, ready to mate again a week after birth!

Dusky Dolphins

DolphinsValdes-HT

There are several lively & energetic species of dolphin that add a splash of mischief and charm to Patagonia's waters!

Dusky dolphins can be recognised by their short, dark beak, black dorsal fin with grey crescent, dark pectoral fins and dark pointed tail which has a deep central notch. They are incredibly acrobatic dolphins, jumping high out of the water, making pirouettes and somersaults both forwards and backwards!

Commerson's Dolphins

Commersons Dolphin

The fast-paced Commerson's dolphin is considered a coastal mammal, found along the Argentine coast from San Matias Gulf to Tierra del Fuego.

They can be spotted in groups of 2-10 dolphins, but live in pods of up to 100! They are speedy and active swimmers, often seen diving and jumping, swimming upside down, and surfing the waves and wakes of boats or even whales!

What Our Customers Think

Swoop Says

Wildlife Trips

Wildlife Cruises

Wildlife Map

We've put together an interactive map to help you understand where and when you can find some of the best of Patagonia's diverse wildlife. 

Ready to plan your Patagonia adventure?

  • Swoop Patagonia Expert Harriet
  • Swoop Patagonia Expert Luke
  • Swoop Patagonia Expert Chloe
  • Swoop Patagonia Expert Sally
  • Swoop Patagonia Expert Tom
  • Swoop Patagonia Expert Loli

Whatever your budget, group size, length of stay, preferred activity or appetite for adventure, we can help.

1-855-369-7866