Patagonia Photo Safari
Join us for a 9 day adventure to the southern tip of South America as we visit Patagonia, the locale of landscape vistas, great sunrises, penguins and breath-taking mountains. We plan to arrive in Punta Arenas , Chile, via Santiago, and begin with a visit to one of the largest penguin colonies in the world, a great way to start a photographic adventure. Over the next few days, we will rise early to photograph the sunrises across the magnificent, sheer mountain faces. In the right light, the mountain base turns orange, often with dramatic lenticular clouds moving fast above the peaks. We plan to hike to glaciers and explore the alkaline ponds and reed-fringed lagoons. There are approximately 120 species of birds and nearly 500 species of plants in the park, a number of which are very interesting subjects for observation and photography. We then travel to the undulating landscapes of Pali Aike National Park, where its many extinct cinder cones break the uniformity of this vast, big-sky country.
Our next stop is a private nature reserve that protects a small breeding colony of king penguins. The penguins are present here year-round, due in part to the bounty of the surrounding sea. We have ample opportunities to observe and photograph the penguins from a safe distance, so as not to disturb their natural behavior.
We continue exploring the wind-swept steppes, rolling hills and lush temperate forests of Tierra del Fuego. Sheep-farming stations, locally known as estancias, are interspersed amidst these picturesque and colorful landscapes dominated by dramatic skies. In the small town of Porvenir, photograph and learn about the wildlife and history of Chile’s southernmost city. Visit the nearby alkaline pools which play host to waders such as sandpiper, plover and Chilean flamingo. Later we’ll explore the coast to see some of the many shipwrecks that have fallen victim to these infamous seas.
This is an opportunity to further develop both the technical and artistic photographic talents we have been working to perfect in a supportive environment that stimulates creativity. Frequent instruction and regular photo critiques are all part of our trip.
Excluding airfare, gas and meals on the trip. A non-refundable $600 deposit will be requried when your registration is confirmed
Minimum of 3 students
Maximum of 7 students
Those who have not completed Photo 2 may enroll if they demonstrate a working understanding of white balance, color correction, camera calibration, histograms and the five types of light.
4001 N. Ravenswood Ave.
Chicago, IL 60613
Day 1 – February 24, 2018 – U.S. / Santiago
Fly independently on an overnight to Santiago, Chile.
Day 2 – February 25, 2018 – Santiago / Punta Arenas
After clearing customs in Santiago connect with Arenas. Enjoy great views of the mountains as you soar over the Southern Patagonia Ice Field. The rest of your day in Punta Arenas is at leisure. Spend the night at the Hotel Diego de Almagro.
Day 3 – February 26, 2018 -Punta Arenas, Chile / Magdalena Island / Torres del Paine National Park
After meeting your naturalist guide in Punta Arenas this morning, cruise to Magdalena Island, set within the mythical Straits of Magellan. This protected area is home to a huge Magellanic penguin colony of more than 150,000 individuals. The penguins inhabit every available spot of the island’s surface, and with little fear of humans, we’re sure to get incredible up-close shots of these often comical birds. Besides the penguins, several other species of seabirds, including imperial and rock cormorants, dolphin and kelp gulls, Chilean skua and South American tern nest here. Take a hike to explore Magdalena Island’s imposing cliffs and into the center of the island, ending at the conspicuous lighthouse which is now the ranger station. South American sea lions often patrol the coast looking opportunities to catch a distracted penguin.
En route to Torres del Paine National Park, observe how the strong westerly winds have sculpted the vegetation of Patagonia’s grassy steppes. Stop along the way for photography and wildlife observation, where we might spot Andean condor, guanaco, southern grey fox and Patagonian skunk while enjoying our first contact with the sub-Antarctic southern beech (Nothofagus) forest, the world’s southernmost woodlands.
In the picturesque coastal town of Puerto Natales, enjoy gorgeous vistas of the Chilean fjords and groups of stunning black-necked swans feeding along the shoreline. From here, we have splendid views of the range, and if it’s clear, of the Paine Massif in the distance. Join our Patagonia tour guide for a sunset photo session. Spend the night at Hotel Pehoé. (B,L,D)
Day 4 – February 27, 2018 – Torres del Paine National Park
The omnipresent Paine Massif, a magnificent set of rugged peaks, formed of granite and sedimentary rock, dominates the landscape of Torres del Paine National Park. Rise early today, and set up at the best location to photograph the Paine Massif at dawn—concentrating on the horns and Paine Grande peaks, located in the southern face of the Massif. Then explore the southern and western regions of this huge national park. The contrasting mosaic of towering mountains, glaciers, wetlands, steppes and forests is a photographer’s delight. Hike into the southern beech forest, to search for a diversity of plants and animals. Observe Magellanic woodpecker, Austral parakeet and, if we are lucky, the shy south Andean deer. Lake Grey is certainly one of the highlights of the day, where colossal icebergs become stranded on the southern shore of the lake after a long and slow journey from the glacier front. From this shore we will board our boat, cruising through the icy waters of the lake towards the impressive and actively calving front of the glacier. Grey is one of the nearly 50 glaciers that originate from the massive Southern Patagonian Ice Field, the world’s third largest after Antarctica and Greenland, and is one of the most beautiful and colorful in all of Patagonia. The front is full of crevasses and the colors of the solid glacial ice varies from white to deep indigo. The glacier is flanked towards the east by impressive granite walls which are part of the Paine Massif, and towards the west, by the eroded, low summits of the older Andes. During the cruise, enjoy a refreshing glass of Pisco sour containing hundreds- possibly thousand-year old glacial ice! This evening we will have again an optional photo outing at sunset. Spend the night at Hotel Pehoé. (B,L,D)
Day 5 – February 28, 2018 – Torres del Paine National Park
Again this morning we will have an early start in order to photograph the Paine Massif illuminated by the sunrise. In the right light, the mountain base turns orange, often with dramatic lenticular clouds moving fast above the peaks. Explore the alkaline ponds and reed-fringed lagoons located in the eastern part of the park. There are approximately 120 species of birds and nearly 500 species of plants in the park, a number of which are very interesting subjects for observation and photography. During the southern spring and early summer (mid-October through late January), the myriad of flowers that bloom in these magnificent landscapes are an unforgettable sight. After dinner, photograph the mountains and clouds, this time at sunset. Hotel Estancia Cerro Guido (B,L,D)
Day 6 – March 1, 2018 – Torres del Paine National Park / Puerto Natales
From the lookout at the eastern corner of Sarmiento Lake, take in some of the most incredible views of the towering peaks of Las Torres. As we explore the area, you may observe herds of guanaco, a relative of the camel, the curious-looking lesser rhea and graceful Andean condor gliding over the landscape. This morning we will visit the eastern side of the park and enjoy the views of one of Paine River’s impressive waterfalls and if it’s clear, the fabulous Paine Massif from Lago Amarga. During the afternoon we will visit Mylodon Cave Nature Reserve. This outstanding natural formation consists of a massive cave carved by the waves of an ancient lake. The cave was used as shelter for a large array of long-gone Pleistocene mammal species, including the giant ground sloth or Mylodon. Learn more about the paleontology of the area from our guide, and visit the informative interpretation center. We then have the rare opportunity to explore other minor caves at Benitez Hill. These smaller shelters, fairly easy to explore, were primarily used by pre-Columbian humans, who reached these latitudes several thousand years ago. The trail goes through southern beech woods, with great chances of seeing raptors and soaring condors, and when the Chilean firebush is in bloom, entire hillsides become covered in scarlet. Overnight at Weskar Lodge. (B,L,D)
Day 7 – March 2, 2018 – Pali Aike National Park / Tierra del Fuego / Porvenir
Depart Puerto Natales, driving across the wind-swept steppes. Arrive at the undulating landscapes of Pali Aike National Park, its many extinct cinder cones break the uniformity of this vast, big-sky country. Some of the intriguing species we may find include least seedsnipe, tawny-throated dotterel, chocolate-vented tyrant and the colorful white-bridled finch. Take a short ferry ride across the narrowest portion of the Magellan Straits, where we expect to see the delightful Commerson’s dolphin playing in our wake. Drive along the scenic shores of Bahia Inutil, Useless Bay, to a private nature reserve that protects a small breeding colony of king penguins. The penguins are present here year-round, due in part by the bounty of the surrounding sea. We have ample opportunities to observe and photograph the penguins from a safe distance, so as not to disturb their natural behavior. Spend tonight at Yendegaia House in Porvenir. (B,L,D)
Day 8 – March 3, 2018 – Porvenir / Tierra del Fuego / Straits of Magellan / Punta Arenas
Continue exploring the wind-swept steppes, rolling hills and lush temperate forests of Tierra del Fuego. Sheep-farming stations, locally known as estancias, are interspersed amidst these picturesque and colorful landscapes dominated by dramatic skies. In the small town of Porvenir, photograph and learn about the wildlife and history of Chile’s southernmost city. Visit the nearby alkaline pools which play host to waders such as sandpiper, plover and Chilean flamingo. Later we’ll explore the coast to see some of the many shipwrecks that have fallen victim to these infamous seas. Return to Punta Arenas by ferry. Spend tonight at Hotel Diego de Almagro. (B,L)
Day 9 – March 4, 2018 – Depart Punta Arenas
Transfer to the airport for independent flights home. (B)