Whales in site! A guide to whale watching in Chile
From December to March, whale populations are migrating to the krill-filled waters of the country’s south. See it for yourself at these three whale-watching hotspots.
Friday, August 31, 2012
A humpback whale, one of the many types of whales that migrate along the coast of Chile. Photo: Michael Dawes / Flickr
With over 2,485 miles (4,000 km) of coastline, Chile is a great place to catch a glimpse of migrating blue, humpback, and gray whales. Thanks to the area’s unique topographical conditions and water depths, these incredible creatures come much closer to Chile’s coastline than in other parts of the world.
Whale-watching season in Chile usually runs from December to March, when whale populations are making their long migration from the warmer latitudes where they mate and give birth, to the krill-filled waters of southern Chile.
While there’s no guarantee you’ll see whales (that’s obviously up to the whales themselves), these three sites are spectacular locations in Chile in their own right.
Reserva Nacional Pingüino de Humboldt (Humboldt Penguin National Reserve)
This beautiful reserve 70 miles (114 km) north of La Serena is prime dolphin and whale-watching territory, and you can also visit the nesting area of the Humboldt penguin. Your best chance for a glimpse is by hiring a boat out to the reserve's island attractions: Isla Damas, Isla Choros, and Isla Chañaral.
Parque Nacional Chiloé (Chiloé National Park) and Parque Tantauco
The forests and cliffs that span the western coast of Parque Nacional Chiloé are some of the best places to spot blue and humpback whales on their way to Patagonia. The coast of Chile’s newest park, Parque Tantauco, also shares this excellent view. A significant number of whales are in this area from December through March.
Francisco Coloane Marine Park
Located near Punta Arenas in the South of Chile, this 416 square mile (670 km) area of ocean is Chile’s first aquatic reserve. It’s an excellent place to sea kayak, and humpback whales, minke whales, and southern right whales call this area home. The observation season begins in November and finishes in May, with its peak between January and April. You can also check out glaciers, penguin nesting areas, and seal communities here.