King Penguin Encounter

Available as a 1-day trip by plane, or a 2-day trip by ferry, this adventure is perfect for wildlife enthusiasts and avid photographers. You'll cross the Strait of Magellan from Punta Arenas to reach a colony of king penguins who you can get up close to and spend time with. You'll also see a wide variety of other sea and land birds and during your time at Useless Bay. Available as a 1-day trip by plane, or a 2-day trip by ferry, this adventure is perfect for wildlife enthusiasts and avid photographers. You'll cross the Strait of Magellan from Punta Arenas to reach a colony of king penguins who you can get up close to and spend time with. You'll also see a wide variety of other sea and land birds and during your time at Useless Bay.
2 Days
$481

King Penguin Encounter - 2 - $481

Trip Summary and Itinerary Map

Option A: Full-day trip from Punta Arenas to Useless Bay (Bahía Inutil)

Option B: 2-day ferry trip from Punta Arenas to Useless Bay (Bahía Inutil)

Start from Punta Arenas and end at Punta Arenas

Landmarks visited on King Penguin Encounter

Operator's Itinerary

Option A: Full-day trip from Punta Arenas to Useless Bay (Bahía Inutil)

We start our journey with a transfer from your hotel to Punta Arenas Airport; from here we take the earliest flight at 8:15am to the town of Porvenir, in Chilean Tierra Del Fuego Island. This is a short but truly scenic 15-minute journey over the mythic waters of the Strait of Magellan. We'll see the incredible glacial action of the last 12,000 years which has carved this famous seaway as well as the coasts of both the mainland and the huge island of Tierra del Fuego. We'll also see the distant peaks of the Andes, located in the southern part of the island, and the huge expanse of Useless Bay.

As soon as we land you will notice that the landscape on this part of Tierra del Fuego is dominated by flat wind-swept steppes, with tussock grasses and low shrubs, and interspersed with rolling hills. After meeting our local guide and driver, we'll stop at the town of Porvenir, visiting a pioneer home, the lovely and cozy Hosteria Yendegaia. Here we'll have coffee or tea with snacks and will have the opportunity to relax for a short while.

From here we'll drive for approximately 2hrs along the shore of Useless Bay where we can expect to see a huge variety of wildlife including guanaco, southern grey fox, the ubiquitous upland goose, Chilean flamingo and a wide diversity of waterfowl and shorebirds. At sea we might see albatrosses, petrels, gulls and skuas patrolling the choppy waters of the bay.

At King Penguin Park we'll have a short introduction on how best to visit and approach the king penguins. This is a private nature reserve which aims to preserve the small numbers of king penguins that visit the area and even remain here year-round, taking advantage of the excellent feeding opportunities in the surrounding seas. We'll have plenty of opportunity to observe and photograph the penguins from a reasonable distance – the maximum approach distance will be given by the guide and must be respected at all times during your visit.

After this unique wildlife encounter, we'll return to Porvenir to take our flight back to Punta Arenas.

Trip duration: 8-10hrs

Meals: Picnic lunch


Option B: 2-day ferry trip from Punta Arenas to Useless Bay (Bahía Inutil)

Day 1 – We'll start our journey with a private transfer from your hotel to the ferry dock at the north of Punta Arenas. At around 9am we'll begin our 2hr crossing of the mythic waters of the Straits of Magellan; these world-famous seaways are very rich in exploration history. Magellan, Drake, Cavendish, Bougainville, Fitz Roy and Darwin, among several other sailors and explorers, surveyed this region, often in extremely harsh and dangerous conditions.

We'll see an interesting array of seabirds, including black-browed albatross, southern giant petrel, southern fulmar, imperial cormorant, dolphin gull and South American tern. We're also highly likely to see interesting marine mammals such as pods of Peale's dolphin and inquisitive South American sea lions.

As soon as we land you will notice that the landscape on this part of Tierra del Fuego is dominated by flat wind-swept steppes, with tussock grasses and low shrubs, and interspersed with rolling hills. After meeting our local guide and driver, we'll stop at the town of Porvenir, visiting a pioneer home, our lovely and cozy hotel, Hosteria Yendegaia. Here we'll have coffee or tea with snacks and will have the opportunity to relax for a short while.

From here we'll drive for approximately 2hrs along the shore of Useless Bay where we can expect to see a huge variety of wildlife including guanaco, southern grey fox, the ubiquitous upland goose, Chilean flamingo and a wide diversity of waterfowl and shorebirds. At sea we might see albatrosses, petrels, gulls and skuas patrolling the choppy waters of the bay.

At King Penguin Park we'll have a short introduction on how best to visit and approach the king penguins. This is a private nature reserve which aims to preserve the small numbers of king penguins that visit the area and even remain here year-round, taking advantage of the excellent feeding opportunities in the surrounding seas. We'll have plenty of opportunity to observe and photograph the penguins from a reasonable distance – the maximum approach distance will be given by the guide and must be respected at all times during your visit.

Meals: Breakfast, picnic lunch, dinner

Accommodation: Hosteria Yendegaia or similar, in Porvenir 

Day 2 – After breakfast, we'll head out to Stromatolite Park. The landscape of this park looks like it dates from the very early days of out planet. We'll also visit the Laguna de Los Cisnes Nature Reserve to spot a wide variety of land and water birds in the lagoons. There might also be cururos, foxes and guanacos in sight.

After lunch we'll board the ferry and sail back across the Strait of Magellan to Punta Arenas.

Meals: Breakfast, picnic lunch

Customer review background image

What our customers think

Our King Penguin tour was well organized and our guide was very knowledgeable and fun! The King Penguins were simply breathtaking. What an experience to be able to see them so close. We were happy that the guide had a spotting scope as it allowed us to get some even better pictures.

Chris Houck United States Of America December 2019

The penguin encounter was amazing!! Penguins have always been my favorite animal so seeing them in their natural environment in a place that doesn't sensationalize it but respects the colony was really a dream come true.

Jami & Don California, USA December 2017

The King Penguin tour (many king penguins and their babies - just adorable) and the Birding tour (birds, geese, sea lions, wild horses and dolphins galore) were outstanding. Our guide was outstanding and personable and we saw wildlife beyond what we could have imagined.

Gail Florida, USA October 2017

Prices, Departures and Inclusions

Option A (1 Day) is available year-round from Tuesday through Friday. Prices for a full group:

4 people: USD $481 per person

3 people:USD $564 per person

2 people:USD $648 per person

1 person: USD $1,063 per person

Option B (2 Day) is available year-round from Saturday to Sunday only. Prices for a full group:

4 people: USD $650 per person

3 people: USD $775 per person

2 people: USD $950 per person

1 person: USD $1,650 per person

A departure can be set up on a date of your choice, subject to availability. Please get in touch for more details.

Additional Notes

Group size – Maximum of 4 people to keep to a minimum the impact we have on the penguin colony.

Includes

  • Ferry tickets/domestic flights 
  • Meals and naturalist guide services as stated in the itinerary
  • Private ground transportation during the tour
  • Park entrance fees
  • English and Spanish-speaking guide

Excludes

  • Meals not indicated in the itinerary
  • Drinks during lunch or dinner
  • Any extra/optional excursions
  • Personal equipment (see our recommended kit list)
  • Personal travel insurance
  • Gratuities/tips
  • Excess baggage charges
  • International and domestic/in-country flights
  • Any visa, passport and vaccination expenses

Questions about this Trip?