King Penguin Colony at Tierra del Fuego

king-penguin-colony-bahia-inutil-useless-bay-tierra-del-fuego-chile
  • Duration: 14 hours
  • Departure: Tuesday to Sunday at 7:00 AM, year-round
  • Activity level: Level 1, easy, possible for everyone of any age in general good health

This is truely quite a sensation!

There is a new colony of King Penguins establishing at Tierra del Fuego – and, guess what, we are happy to take you there!

King Penguins (Aptenodytes patagonicus) are usually only found on subantarctic island, such as remote and difficult to access South Georgia and the Falkland Islands. Observing them in Tierra del Fuego, therefore, is a very unique oportunity!

For quite a while now, we have been hearing rumours and in some occasions believed-to-be-true stories amongst some of the local elders that a long time ago there once was a king penguin colony at Tierra del Fuego. Today, a group of about 100 king penguins is reestablishing right at the same spot. For the first time one of their last season’s chicks has made it through the winter. We believe that this is a very good sign for a recovering ecosystem.

Let us go out to observe, spread the word and protect these magnificent seabirds in their natural habitat!

On top of this, the King Penguins live there year-round.

With this tour you will directly contribute to the protection of the King Penguins at Tierra del Fuego.

Every day (except Mondays) at around 7.30 a.m., all participants are picked up from their hotels in Punta Arenas. Be prepared for a loooong road trip – distances and therefore traveling time in Patagonia & Tierra del Fuego are huge. You have been warned! The drive through the Patagonian Pampa takes you at first about 2 hours Northeast of Punta Arenas to Primera Angostura, the first narrowing of the Strait of Magellan, if you would sail into the Strait from the Atlantic. On the way, stop at San Gregorio. Once a flourishing estancia, today it appear to be a ghost town. Later, cross the Strait of Magellan by ferry from the South American mainland to the island of Tierra del Fuego. From here, the only way is South. The landscape in the northern part of Tierra del Fuego is similar to that on the mainland, dominated by the vast, windswept Patagonian steppe. Roughly another 2,5 hours drive later, we reach the King Penguin Colony. Spend about one hour at the penguin colony. Join your guide to approach the penguins on foot. We will keep a fair distance, not to disturb them – penguins first! After a while, the penguins tend to forget about us visitors (or they might simply not care about our presence) and usually come closer on their own – sometimes as close as 20 meters, sometimes a bit closer, but again: we’ll let them decide! After a great experience and high quality observation, we return to Punta Arenas to arrive at about 09:30 p.m. – sometimes even later!

Important:

Experience tells us that some travelers underestimate the huge distances in Patagonia & Tierra del Fuego. For this reason it is very important that you understand what it takes to visit the King Penguins at Bahía Inútil in Tierra del Fuego.

 

Tour Includes

  • Transfer from/ to your hotel or our down town office

  • Ferry tickets across the Strait of Magellan
  • English speaking tour guide

Additional Costs

  • Lunch (please bring your own)
  • Entrance fee to the King Penguin Park: CLP 12,000 (about USD 18.- pp*)

    This fee will help to build basic infrastructure including fences to protect the penguins from natural predators like Patagonian Foxes (which were introduced to Tierra del Fuego and are therefore not native to the island), potentially from stray dogs, but also from potential human misbehavior. This entrance fee will therefore allow for a long lasting establishment of this king penguin colony – and this is what it’s all about!

  • Optional tips to your tour guide and/ or your driver

Regular Departures

Our full-day tour to the King Penguin Colony at Tierra del Fuego departs every day (except Mondays) and outside this time frame on demand.

Important

Although, this tour is mainly a road trip, we have to cross the Strait of Magellan twice. The ferry sails almost always. Nevertheless, delays may occur due to weather conditions that may result in a very late arrival back in Punta Arenas. 

Price

CLP 50,000 per person (about USD 78.- pp*)

+ Entrance fee to the King Penguin Park: CLP 12,000 (about USD 18.- pp*)

Of course, the main goal of this full-day tour is to observe King Penguins (Aptenodytes patagonicus), but there’s much more to see…

Other species you may observe during this trip include

  • Guanaco (Lama guanicoe); the wild ancestor of the domesticated llama; fairly common in the Patagonian steppe and on Tierra del Fuego
  • Ñandu (Pterocnemia pennata); a large flightless bird similar to the ostrich, also called Darwin’s Rhea or Lesser Rhea; fairly common in the Patagonian steppe, but does not inhabit Tierra del Fuego
  • South American Gray Fox (Lycalopex griseus); a species of the “false” foxes, which is actually closer related to wild dogs than to foxes, also called Patagonian Fox

  • Southern Crested Caracara (Caracara plancus); a bird of prey often seen perched on trees and fence poles; very common

… and if you’re somewhat lucky:

  • Chilean Dolphin (Cephalorhynchus eutropia), also called Black Dolphin, only found off the coast of Chile

  • Commerson’s Dolphin (Cephalorhynchus commersonii)

… which may be observed during the ferry crossing from the Patagonian mainland to Tierra del Fuego.