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Five places to watch whales and penguins in the south of Chile

Five places to watch whales and penguins in the south of Chile

By: Hernan Claro - 28 November, 2023

penguins in the south of Chile

Chiloé and Magallanes offer unbeatable whale and penguin watching places. Would you like to get to know these wonderful animals?

Did you know that in the south of Chile there are different places where you can see penguins and whales? Here at Chile Travel we will tell you about five natural areas where you can watch these wonderful animals, as well as the precautions you must keep in mind.

First, remember that the best date to see whales is from October to April. The peak is between January and February because during that season the cetaceans travel from the Antarctica to the continent to feed.

Additionally, the best date to see penguins is between October and March due to their reproductive cycle.

1. Islotes de Puñihuil Natural Monument

We start on Chiloé Island. Caleta Puñihuil is located 25 km from Ancud, in front of which there are the three islets that make up the Islotes de Puñihuil Natural Monument.

Besides it being a whale-watching point, it is one of the few places in the world where both the Humboldt penguin and the Magallanes penguin nest. The first one is characterized for the stripes of black feathers that cross its white chest, which form kind of an inverted “u”.

And although it has similar characteristics, the Magallanes penguin is distinguished for having two black lines on its chest instead of one.

In the same Caleta Puñihuil there are navigation services that sail around the islets every 20 minutes. The Natural Monument is open from Monday to Sunday, from 9:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m.

2. Tantauco Park

Tantauco Park is also on Chiloé Island, where you can take a kayak tour in the Corcovado Gulf from, a place where the highest quantity of blue whale sightings has been registered in the whole southern hemisphere.

To get to Tantauco Park, you must travel 14 km from Quellón heading north and then take the exit towards Portería Yaldad, entry point to the park. Travelling another 20 km you will reach the area of Chaiguata Lake, where the kayak services are located.

The section between Quellón and the Chaiguata Lake takes around three hours by car, so we recommend you spend the night at the campsite. The entry prices go from $1,000 to $5,000, depending on the area and the age of whoever buys the ticket.

3. King Penguin Natural Reserve

In the Bahía Inútil area on Tierra del Fuego, there is the King Penguin Natural Reserve. You can find the king penguin in this sanctuary, the second largest of its kind with its 94 cm and weight of 10 to 15 kg.

The colony of king penguins arrived in the area in 2010, which led to the creation of the natural reserve with the purpose of guaranteeing their protection. The park opens from October to May, requires previous booking, and entry has a general price of $8,000.

4. Los Pingüinos Natural Monument

Los Pingüinos Natural Monument is located 35 km northeast of Punta Arenas, specifically between Magdalena and Marta islands. It is an ideal wilderness area to watch the Magallanes penguin.

The place runs from October to April, and it is closed from May to September. There are tourist boats that depart from Punta Arenas to this destination, and the entry price is between $2,500 to $9,000.

5. Francisco Coloane Marine Park

From Punta Arenas, a seven-hour boat tour will take you to Francisco Coloane Marine Park, the best place in Chile for whale-watching because of the quantity of cetaceans gathered there.

Between its fjords, channels, and native forests the humpback whale circulates mainly, as well as its relatives Sei, Minke, and even orcs and dolphins. Here you can also find the Magallanes penguin.

Keep in mind that the park can be visited only through tourism agencies.

6. Whales and penguins in Chile: recommendations

It is important to remain t at the moment of sighting these animals, always respecting their space, and following your guide’s recommendations. It is fundamental not to make campfires or throw garbage on natural environments.

To see penguins, you must maintain a distance of at least six meters, not take photos with flash, always let them pass, and never feed them. Remember to move silently so as not to bother their space.

If you are going whale-watching, keep in mind the rules that regulate the vessels, such as keeping a distance of at least 200 meters, and not make sudden changes in speed. Do not throw waste into the sea and avoid loud noises because it bothers them.

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