Wildlife in Chile: All the animals you can spot

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Wildlife in Chile

If you’re an animal lover like us, then you will enjoy this post on the wildlife in Chile. We were pretty lucky and got to spot a few rarely seen animals as well.

We are no scientists or biologists, just two passionate travellers. The wildlife in Chile is very rich and we are going to present just a small part of it, “accesible” to public. It’s a proof that Chile is truly a traveller’s dream destination.

North of Chile

There are plenty of national parks and reservations in the north of the country. We visited the desert Atacama but don’t get fooled by the name. The area is home to a huge number of amazing animal species that simply adapted to its harsh conditions.

  • flamingos – there are three different kinds of flamingos living around the Los Flamencos National Reserve: Andean, Chilean and James’s. Apart from the fact that they are totally fascinating and beautiful you get to observe them from a really short distance. This of course doesn’t mean you get to disturb their natural habitat.
  • donkeys – before coming to Chile we were convinced that donkeys couldn’t survive in the wild on their own. Not true. Driving through the desert we came across these lonely pilgrims several times. Apparently they have found a way to get by, probably by sucking water out of desert plants.

Wild Donkey Chile

  • vicunas – this cute relative of llama is easy to spot. We saw dozens of them around the lake Miscanti and the surroundings. It was clear that they were used to the presence of tourists but you don’t get to get too close to them.
  • nandus – it was a strange encounter with this South American ostrich. While we were driving to the lake Miscanti we saw something moving in circles really fast. We stopped the car to get a better look and saw a nandu running around frantically. He was being chased by a small predator while a group of vicunas was passively observing the situation nearby. Since nandus are really fast it probably didn’t end well for the predator.

South of Chile

The wildlife in the south of Chile is a whole different world. The climate changes radically and the further you go the more it resembles Antarctica. So here’s a little teaser of what expects you down there:

  • penguins – who wouldn’t be curious about these wonderful and entertaining creatures? You can find them on the island Maddalena where you can be taken by a few tour operators. The penguins living on the island are the Magellanic type, which is smaller than the one living in Antarctica. Penguins are not the only birds present on the island: you’ll be surrounded by crowds of seagulls or cormorants as well.
  • sea lions – just a few kms from Isla Maddalena lies another small island, or rather a rock sticking out of the sea. You can only get closer as it’s impossible physically climb on it. When you see its inhabitants you wouldn’t want to anyway: enormous South American sea lions which constantly fight one another.
  • Patagonian fox – we spotted this furry animal close to our shelter. At first we thought it was a puma, but then discovered a curious head popping out of the bushes belonged to a Patagonian fox.
  • caracaras – ok, we have to admit that when it comes to the southern crested caracara we are cheating a little bit. The reason is that this particular one was always hanging around our shelter, sometimes even trying to enter. Apparently the staff was feeding her and she became the first “domesticated” eagle in the history of Patagonia.

In case you’re not only interested in the wildlife in Chile and want to find out how we spent our two weeks in this stunning country, check this post!

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