There is beauty in the crimson clouds and mystery in the jagged peaks. There’s mindrest on the flaxen grass and life depth in the azure pools.
There’s a paradise in Patagonia. And pumas in it.
- 9 nights and 10 days in the most expansive South American wilderness
- Possibly excellent pictures of pumas, guanacos and a wealth of other wildlife
- Breathtaking landscape photography opportunities of spectacular Patagonia
- Extensive natural history guidance and photography mentorship from expert Skipper
Patagonia is a wildly charming wilderness. Expansive and bitingly scenic, it stretches over a handsome part of Argentina and Chile in the southernmost part of South America, spanning a thousand miles from head to toe. With the Pacific Ocean to the west and the Atlantic to the east, it covers a mind-bending area of over 750,000 km2.
It’s in the thick of this sweep, between the great Andes mountain range and the Chilean Steppe, that the Torres del Paine National Park resides, with its glaciers and lakes and rivers and valleys.
Now jettison yourself imaginarily into the midst of this paradise, and you can well see how overwhelming it might be. Then sign up to jettison yourself literally.
A human population density of less than 2 people per km2 means plenty of space for wildlife. Still, the untouched nature of the wilderness means that the landscape itself is a primary attraction for photography.
But once you’ve stabilised yourself sufficiently to look beyond the achingly pretty scenes, you may do one or more of these:
- Notice a herd of guanaco sandwiched between a mosaic of white and green and a snow-cloaked hill standing like a giant terrestrial iceberg.
- Be stunned by the sight of the selfsame guanaco in a live painting, splattered vividly on a canvas of edible buff and radiant amber.
- Amuse yourself over yet more guanacos perched like llamas on a knoll with mounds of green interspersed among tufts of straw.
- Be humbled to submission by the jaw-dropping scene of one silhouetted against a red mountain aflame in the brilliance of a setting sun reluctantly leaving the Patagonian turf.
To think that all this is ‘merely’ the background score to our core quest of finding the largest cat to prowl these parts is admittedly boastful but entirely true.
The puma is a quintessential cat. Although large, it’s more closely related to its smaller cousins. But in appearance and manner, it lives up to its flamboyant alias of ‘mountain lion’ with emphatic vindication.
Of course, not being a part of the elite Panthera club means that it can’t roar, but sporting an expert balance between luxuriant and lithe, it does indeed look like a lion that shrank in size, underwent a nose-and-cheek job, and emigrated to the American mountains.
Secretive everywhere else, this adaptable and most widespread of all cats west of Africa is the most conspicuous in Patagonia. It couldn’t have chosen a more scenic place to be so.
But Patagonia is not all about pumas, guanacos and scenery you can swoon over all day, although we’re sure you’d happily ‘settle’ for that much.
There’s also the Patagonian fox, whose design seems a composite of a fat jackal, a bleached red fox and a fey wolf-impostor; the hog-nosed skunk (literally – no offence meant); and the ‘underworldly’ Megallanic tuco-tuco.
Sky traffic is busy, too, with southern caracaras, austral parakeets, Andean condor, Chilean flamingo, upland goose, and steamer ducks. And if it all gets steamy, there’s the snow, to cool your hours and soothe your eyes.
For you are, after all, in paradise.
Please note: The Tour will begin at Punta Arenas on 24 February 2019 and end at the same place after breakfast on 5 March 2019. Travel from India to Chile and back is not included in the itinerary, but all due assistance will be provided in booking flights.
24 February 2019, Sunday
We arrive in Punta Arenas and are immediately transferred to our hotel for check-in. We resort to rest this day after our long travel. After a scrumptious dinner, we tuck ourselves to bed with the endless possibilities of being struck by beauty awaiting us for the following days.
25 February, Monday
We leave for Torres del Paine and spend our time searching for the hero wild-being of our Tour, the puma. We return to our hotel for the night in Torres del Paine.
26 February to 1 March, Tuesday to Friday
We spend the entire day in Torres del Paine, feasting our eyes on its breathtaking geographical beauty and hopefully the elusive mountain lion that the puma is. We return to our hotel for the night’s sound sleep in Torres del Paine.
2 March, Saturday
We leave for Lago Grey for our day tour there and explore the area for more photography and return to stay overnight in Torres del Paine.
3 March, Sunday
We spend this day exploring and photographing the beautiful landscape in changing light. We make images to our hearts’ content before retiring for the night.
4 March, Monday
We leave Torres del Paine. On our way back, we stop by a town called Puerto Natales to photograph swans and other birds. We then head towards Punta Arenas where we spend our time watching and photographing the majestic Andean condor. We return to our hotel in Punta Arenas for a good night’s sleep.
5 March, Tuesday
With a lot of memories to cherish, we leave the puma paradise and head towards the airport to catch out homebound flights.
- Per Person on Twin Share Accommodation
- Per Couple on Twin Share Accommodation
- Per Person on Twin Share Accommodation
- Twin-sharing accommodation in comfortable, non-air-conditioned lodges/hotels
- All meals (breakfast, lunch and dinner) and hot beverages (coffee and tea)
- Transfers between Punta Arenas and Torres Del Paine
- Services of a team of trackers working every morning and evening to enable better sightings
- Services of your Photography Skipper
What’s Not Included?
- All airfare and transfer expenses between your home and Punta Arenas
- Any kind of personal expenses or optional tours, extra meals and beverages ordered
- Insurance, laundry and phone calls
- Bottled water, soft drinks and alcoholic beverages
- Camera and lens fees
- Anything that is not included in the inclusions list
- All applicable taxes
- USD 1500 of the Tour fee as booking amount (non-refundable)
- USD 2500 of the Tour fee before 15 November 2018
- Remainder of the Tour fee latest by 25 December 2018
All figures per person.
- USD 1500 of the Tour fee on or before 31 December 2018
- 100% of the Tour fee on or after 1 January 2019
All figures per person.
Please note: The date of written (email) communication of intent to cancel is the date considered for calculation of the cancellation fees.
While Toehold Photo Travel is one of our most popular offerings, we work as a travel agency without bringing the photography guide element in to your travel. In short you would be using our travel experts service to just plan the vacation and execute it.
- Unlike a Photo Travel experience, your Vacation is completely personalised.
- The dates, style of travel, class of hotels and lodges, destinations, everything is tailor-made to suit your custom requirement.
- A Skipper or a photography guide doesn’t travel with you to guide you unless you decide to take our customised and guided photo travel experience.
So take advantage of the immense experience and field knowledge that we bring in to your Vacation’s planning without having to pay for our time and costs. Plus, we don’t charge an additional fee for our time and travel planning services.
Who should participate in this Tour?
Anybody with an interest in wildlife, photography or both, and is over the age of 18 (unless accompanied by a parent or adult guardian) is welcome to join the Tour.
I am a newbie in nature photography. Am I eligible?
Absolutely! This Tour is meant for fledgling as well as experienced photographers. Beginners get all the advantages of learning on and off the field from Toehold’s eminent Skippers. In fact if you are a newbie, you should jump on this terrific learning opportunity and sign up right away! However, in order to make the most of the Tour photographically, we recommend that you be familiar with photography fundamentals. If you’re not, we suggest you join an Art and Science of Photography Workshop before the Tour.
By what mode or modes will we explore Patagonia? What is the level of physical fitness required on this Photo Tour?
We will travel between the destinations by road, but most of the photography will be done on foot, which is why a moderate level of physical fitness is required for hiking. Also, there will be no porters to help us with our luggage. Please talk to us to know more.
How sure are you about photographing wildlife on this Tour?
Considering the meticulous attention to timing we pay while scheduling Tours and the local expertise we leverage, we believe that it would be extremely unfortunate if our sightings and photography were unsatisfactory. Patagonia is a country blessed with the greatest biodiversity, and the destinations we’ll be visiting are teeming with wildlife, but since we will be in an uncontrolled environment, we do not claim that sightings of specific species are guaranteed.
What equipment do you suggest on this Tour?
For birds, a lens with a focal length of around 400mm is essential. For mammals, a telephoto zoom lens in the range of 100 to 400mm works very well, but a longer lens is fine too. The longer the lens, the better for your photography in Patagonia. A wide-angle or normal zoom to capture landscapes or creative perspectives of wildlife is a must. However, if you do not have appropriate equipment, there is no need to fret. Toehold offers an exhaustive array of cameras and lenses for hire, so you can always hire what you need. What’s more, you enjoy a 10% discount on all equipment hired on our Tours!. Visit our Rental Store to see what we offer.
How different are your Photo Tours from ordinary tours?
Unlike travel agents who plan your holiday from a remote destination to places they sometimes haven’t experienced themselves, Photo Tours offer a comprehensive toehold to experience a place through the guidance of a professional photographer. The common ingredients in all our Photo Tours are fun and a lot of learning and knowledge-sharing. Besides, most or all of our Tour participants are photography enthusiasts, which keeps the group in harmony and helps make your experience focussed.
We had a lovely time during the trip. Thank you for all the efforts in making it memorable and fruitful! We look forward to being on another photo tour with you soon!
Thank you so so much for everything; you guys are the best skippers ever! I had an absolutely amazing time on the trip; everything was so well organised and taken care of. Can’t wait to go for the next one!
Being my first wildlife tour, I was not only enjoying the game but also the immense confidence build that Toehold influenced when it comes to photography.