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Wild Pumas
the Wildlife of
Torres del Paine!


Chile Pumas 2023
December 5-12, 2023

(from Punta Arenas)
Price: $8900 for each tour
Limited to 5 participants

Pumas, or Mountain Lions (aka Cougars) are the most wide-ranging of Cats, with a range extending from Canada and southern Alaska all the way south to the tip of South America. Yet they are among the most elusive of all the big cats, and throughout their range they are extremely difficult to see or observe, or to photograph. Except one place ... the area around Torres del Paine, Chile, the site of our exciting Photo Tour.

We'll be in prime Puma country, and with the aid of at least one special game tracker we'll have an excellent chance to photograph Pumas in the wild. My personal quest to photograph Pumas extends over twenty years, and beginning in 2012 I've had great luck (and photographs) on every trip.

Besides Pumas, there is a nice variety of wildlife in and around Torres del Paine, and the landscape photography is famous around the world. Here's the details!

(For the most thorough information on this trip please refer to our January 2023 Trip Report, or our 2020 Trip Report #1 or 2020 Trip Report #2. It will provide the most accurate information on what you can expect on this trip.)

View a Torres del Paine Wildlife and Landscape Portfolio

: When I first started looking for and photographing Pumas in Torres del Paine National Park one could go anywhere inside the Park to do so. A few years ago the rules changed, and today almost all Puma photography and viewing is done on private land, where we pay a fee (4 days included). Regardless of what you may read or what may be claimed, this is how it is now done - by everyone.

We have booked four of our five days for use of this private land, which should be more than adequate for our Puma photography. If need be, we could pay (the fee not included) for an additional day, but that should not be necessary. Some Puma photography may be done along the Park border - no fee, here -- or even along the main park road but our best viewing and shooting will be on private land.

Check out one of our videos from our 2018 Trip
Training Day - Young Pumas learn to Hunt

IMPORTANT FACT: Photographing Pumas requires walking, usually off-trail, and sometimes going up or down hills. We can usually drive our vehicles to within sight of the Puma or our puma scout, but from there we must walk. Distances are usually no more than 1/4 mile, but this can vary, especially if a Puma moves and we decide to follow. Rain, high winds, uneven ground ... this is Puma country, and you must be prepared. This isn't roadside photography (very rarely it is), and photographers must be physically able to walk and to carry the equipment (we always give recommendations). We don't want to discourage anyone, but we certainly do not want to decieve or disappoint anyone either!

Our Trip:

pOur time will be concentrated on finding and photographing Pumas, but our time won't be wasted by having to devote ourselves solely to this task! We'll have a scout out there looking, while we enjoy any and all photographic opportunities this area presents. When we find Pumas we'll spend as much time as we can with them, which might mean the entire day. Cats do spend a lot of time sleeping, so sometimes the time is spent simply waiting, and being there, for when the activity begins. Patience is the key.

Anyone familiar with spectacular landscapes knows the name - Torres del Paine, the Towers of Paine. The ruggedness of the mountain landscape and the unsettled, stormy weather conjures up a variety of mental images, no doubt fostering the mistaken belief that the English translation of Torres del Paine is the Towers of Pain! Of course, for anyone who has ever tried climbing the towers, pain might be the best translation.

Our trip is planned for the beginning of the Austral summer, when wild flowers, verdant vegetation, and wildlife babies will be at peak abundance.



bThis trip is a 'tour,' where our daylight hours will be involved in finding, and photographing, subjects.That does not imply that we're not available to help you in whatever ways we can. Mary and I will be offering our on-the-spot suggestions on the best way to compose the images before us, as well as suggestions on making the correct exposures, choosing the correct lenses, and obtaining the best perspectives. We're always there for you -- if you have questions, if you'd like an opinion on a composition, if you'd like to see what we're doing, whatever, WE ARE THERE FOR YOU.

Finally, we're available to answer all of your questions prior to the trip, and we'll be anxious to assist you in your efforts when we're afield in Torres del Paine.

Our DAILY Schedule

tSearching for Pumas in southern Chile involves long days. Our trip will end not long before the longest day of the year in the southern hemisphere, and at our southern latitudes true darkness extends from approximately Midnight until 4AM. Our shooting schedule will vary each day, but we'll be leaving our hotel at 4:30AM to begin our day. If the weather is clear (and no Pumas have yet been spotted), our sunrise shoots (when sunlight actually reaches the mountain tops and provides light for our subjects) typically begin at around 5:45AM, and late evening shooting in the field extends to 9PM. Our hotel base is located in one of the most scenic locations in the park, and photographers who wish to shoot even later from the hotel's grounds may do so - at least until10:00PM or so!

Most days, if we're not keeping our eyes on a Puma, we take a post-lunch siesta, returning to the field around 4PM for the remainder of the day.



Day 1. Arrival in Puna Arenas. You are responsible for transportation into Punta Arenas -- taxis are available. If you are on our flight we will arrange transportation and we'll split the cost of the transfer fee. Overnight: Punta Arenas.
Note: Many participants arrive a day earlier (we strongly recommend this).

Day 2. We'll leave Punta Arenas for the 2.5 hour drive to Puerto Natales where we'll switch to the vehicles we'll be using for our Puma expedition. After lunch we'll continue to Torres del Paine, check in, and do our first game drive that afternoon. Our Puma trackers will start tracking and scouting on this day.
Overnight, Hotel Las Torres, Torres del Paine.

gDay 3-7. We'll leave early -- approximately 4:30AM! -- to be in the field as Pumas are still active and easier to locate. Our trackers will be searching, and we will be in radio-communication with the trackers when cats are spotted. This will free us to photograph other subjects as they are encountered, from landscape to birds and wildlife. Most days we will take a mid-afternoon break and do another game-drive/puma expedition beginning at 4PM. Dinners will be after 8:30PM.

We're not going to set a definite itinerary for these five days. It was our experience that even the best laid plans never materialized due to the changing weather conditions.

On one of our days we'll travel deep into the National Park to photograph the park, the landscape, and the wildlife found within. At several locations bird photography can be particularly productive, and, of course, the landscapes!!! We'll do this excursion based upon weather and our success with the Pumas.
Overnights: Hotel Las Torres, Torres del Paine.

Day 8. After one of our only breakfast buffets we head back to Puerto Natales and Punta Arenas. Participants will either overnight in Punta Arenas (rooms are not included) or will fly home that afternoon. We'll be taking an early afternoon flight back to Santiago and connecting (with a few hour lay-over) with our evening flight back to the US.


Your fee includes the tour, lodging (based on double occupancy), and transportation from Punta Arenas. Your fee also includes all tips for the Chilean guide and driver and for the transfer drivers. A welcome dinner is included in Punta Arenas. Dinners are not included from Day 2 onward, for a reason. Dinners may be late, and you may elect to skip dinner or eat a light meal. Our hotel has a wonderful buffet each evening for those who wish (in 2020 we never had the chance -- too busy!). We did not want to charge a fee for an option you may not use. FYI, our picnic breakfast was big enough that we usually had the sandwich from that meal for our dinner -- often after 10PM!).

rWe strongly advise that you obtain trip/travel insurance if there exists the remotest possibility that you may have to cancel at the last minute or leave the tour before its conclusion on Saturday morning. Emergency Medical Evacuation Insurance is also recommended,

Lodging is included, and is based upon double occupancy. We'll do our best to make roommate matches. Please be aware that if a roommate is unavailable (due to an odd number of males/females or an odd number of registrants) you will be responsible for the single supplement. Roommates will be assigned based on receipt of the registration form and whether it is a male or female registrant. There is an additional cost for the single rooming supplement.


fWe'll be forwarding a complete list of equipment recommendations to our registered participants. However, this tour offers the wonderful chance to use a variety of different lenses, for telephoto shots of wildlife or for landscape extractions, as well as wide-angles, zooms, and tilt-shift lenses.



cWeather at the beginning of summer in Torres del Paine can be erratic, ranging from a 'typical summer day' to nearly winter conditions. Regardless, you can expect the mornings to be cool, and gloves and a wool cap are suggested. Layering is the key to comfort on this trip, with the most important clothing items being a windbreaker, or rain gear, (wind is a near constant) and a good pair of broken-in hiking boots. We advise people to wear layers that can be shed as the temperature increases or decreases. Although unlikely, we could have heavy snow flurries, freezing rain, or damp fog, so we advise people to pack for the type of field conditions one might experience in Yellowstone in late September, just in case. Mary will provide participants with a complete list of suggested clothing.


d  Besides Pumas, we'll be photographing Guanacos, and likely to photograph Patagonian Gray Fox, Andean Condors, Chilean Flamngos, Magellanic Woodpeckers, and various birds. Our list of potential subjects include Patagonian Red Fox (not our species!), Hairy Armadillo (aka Yellow Armadillo), Hognose Skunk, European Hare, Austral Parakeet, Ringed Kingfisher, Austral Pigmy Owl, Magellanic Horned Owl, Black-chested Buzzard Eagle, Crested Caracara, Upland and Ashy-Headed Geese, Black-faced ibis, Long-tailed Meadowlark, Black-necked Swan, Magellanic Snipe, Rufous-collared Sparrow, and more. Landscapes will include beech forests, mountain landscapes, waterfalls and streams. Please read any of our Trip Reports to have a great idea of YOUR potential subjects.


Location: Punta Arenas and Torres del Paine National Park, Chile.
Accommodations: Lodging is included. In Torres del Paine National Park we'll be based at the most centrally located lodge for pumas, just inside the park. Lodging is based on double occupancy with a possible option for single accommodations in Punta Arenas pending availability.
Photo Tour Duration: Our trip begins on Day 1 in Punta Arenas and ends on Day 8 in Punta Arenas.

Transportation: Included upon arrival in Punta Arenas, based upon the itinerary.
Costs: $TBA, including all breakfast and lunches and a welcome dinner in Punta Arenas. Dinners, Day 2-8, are not included, lodging (based upon double occupancy), transportation (see above), tips and all handouts. For our cancellation and payment schedule, please see our registration sheet detailing it.
Participation: Limited to 6 participants.
Liability Release: Our release form must be signed prior to participation.

Lodging is included. In Torres del Paine National Park we'll be based at the most centrally located hotel for our Puma expedition, the Hotel Las Torres. Lodging is based on double occupancy with a possible option for single accommodations in Punta Arenas pending availability.

About Your Leaders

Joe and Mary Ann McDonald are the most prolific and active husband-wife wildlife and nature photography team in the United States today. At least half of each year is spent in the field, leading photo tours and safaris to Africa, South America, India, and other exotic locations, as well as various tours and workshops in the US. They conduct their Complete Nature Photo Course and Advanced (Flash) Courses at their studio at Hoot Hollow, in central Pennsylvania. At their studio they have hosted students and photographers from around the world, including photographers from Australia, the UK, the Netherlands, Ireland, Germany, Belgum, South Africa, Singapore, Canada, and Mexico, as well as from all four corners of the US.

Additionally, in their free time Joe and Mary Ann occasionally conduct one-day and weekend seminars on photography, offered across the country.
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