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King Penguin Encounter

Available as a 2-day trip by ferry, this unique wildlife adventure offers a perfect opportunity to spend time with the most accessible King penguin colony in the world. Cross the Strait of Magellan from Punta Arenas to reach the nesting site of these beautiful birds; your expert naturalist guide will help you discover the fascinating wildlife of Tierra del Fuego.

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King Penguin Encounter

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Trip type

Guided Activity

Trip length

2 Days




Tierra del Fuego

King Penguin Encounter - 2 Days - $921

Trip Summary and Itinerary Map

Day 1: Cross Strait of Magellan; Useless Bay (Bahía Inutil); Hotel in Porvenir

Day 2: Stromatolite Park; Laguna de Los Cisnes Nature Reserve; Punta Arenas

Start from Punta Arenas and end at Punta Arenas

Landmarks visited on King Penguin Encounter

Operator's Itinerary

Day 1: Cross Strait of Magellan; Useless Bay (Bahía Inutil); Hotel in Porvenir

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 2-hr crossing of the mythic waters of the Strait 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: Picnic lunch, dinner
Accommodation: Hosteria Yendegaia or similar, in Porvenir

Day 2: Stromatolite Park; Laguna de Los Cisnes Nature Reserve; Punta Arenas

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

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What our customers think of King Penguin Encounter

King Penguin Encounter trips scored 4.5/5 from 23 reviews

After waiting 40 years, visiting Torres del Paine exceeded my expectations. The team at Swoop and our guides during the trek were amazing.

Travelled: April 2024

Erik -

The breathtaking view of the towers after a challenging hike up!

Travelled: April 2024

Rochelle -

Watching a Guanaco run to the bathroom spot right after our guide told us that they have designated potty spots!! What a crack up!!

Travelled: March 2024

Anonymous -

There are so many to choose from. I think it was the French Valley hike in Torres del Paine national park. We had perfect weather, warm and no wind if you can believe that.

Travelled: March 2024

Anonymous -

The landscapes and Hiking in Torres.

Travelled: February 2024

Kevin -

Surreal feeling to watch up to 100 King Penguins in the Pinguino Rey Natural reserve! Watching Puma and Guanacos in their natural habitat in Torres del Paine National Park

Travelled: December 2023

Kalyan -

El Chaltén was incredible. The domes were great, albeit cold.

Travelled: December 2023

Alizé -

Last very treacherous rocky path without our guide. ( She had to catch her boat)

Travelled: February 2023

Arleene -

finishing the W

Travelled: February 2023

Donnis -

The sense of accomplishment when we finished our last day of hiking.

Travelled: December 2022

Patrick -

It was snowing and hailing the day we did John Gardner Pass. The groups had split into two and I was at the back of the 1st group. I trudged along, just trying to not slow anyone down. I was definitely tired and cold. I remember seeing the group resting and waiting for me to come up over the pass. When I reached them I couldn’t contain my emotions. I burst into tears. It was so unbelievably beautiful. How lucky I was that I was physically able to see this wonder. So many people will never get get the chance to experience this… and I counted my blessings and thanks.

Travelled: December 2022

Cortney -

Crossing the pass and first seeing the glacier

Travelled: December 2022

Marc -

Overall, being able to complete the hike, which was challenging and amazing. But the third day (John Garner pass) was probably the most memorable.

Travelled: December 2022

Carol -

crossing the John Gardner pass and seeing the ice field. And the guides Mauricio and Javier, they were amazing.

Travelled: December 2022

Marnie -

Going over the John Garner pass with good weather and sunshine on the glacier below

Travelled: December 2022

Anonymous -

early morning walk at Patagonia Camp

Travelled: November 2022

Kathryn -

Fjords and glaciers on the route to Cape Horn

Travelled: November 2022

Bradley D. Keister -

Spending time with a mother puma and her cubs at sunset and sunrise, walking a trail with a puma after the first snowfall of the season

Travelled: April 2022

Maddie -

Photographing puma cubs

Travelled: April 2022

Connor -

First seeing the penguins and chicks

Travelled: April 2022

Jennifer -


Prices, Departures and Inclusions

Prices for the 2023/24 season are:

4 people: USD $921 per person

2 people: USD $1,208 per person


Book now to guarantee the same price for the 2024-25 season. We expect the operator's final price to be higher when they confirm their new rates in the coming weeks; book before then and we can guarantee you will not pay more for your trip.


Please get in touch for more details.

Additional Notes

Group size – Maximum of four people to minimise the impact we have on the penguin colony.

Opening dates - The penguin colony will be open from December to May. Closed Mondays and from 18 March also on Tuesday and Wednesday.


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


  • 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?