For nature lovers, the vast landscape of Patagonia is a veritable treat, with the fertile plains (pampas), glistening lakes and soaring mountains. It’s also the home of a range of diverse wildlife, from fascinating birds to powerful creatures such as pumas.
Here we are taking a closer look at some of the region’s local residents so that you know what to look out for on your own Patagonian expedition.
Guanacos (Lama guanicoe)
With their long necks and long legs, these furry friends are believed to be the ancestor of the domestic llama. Living in the high Andes, the guanaco has a dense, woolly coat, with padded feet that can carry them at speeds of up to 56 kilometres per hour, according to the BBC. To help it survive at dizzying altitudes as high as 4,000 metres, the animal’s blood has a higher oxygen content.
Interestingly enough, young male guanacos often live in a separate bachelor herd until they mature. Another intriguing characteristic is that guanacos will spit at each other in a territorial display.
South Andean Deer / Huemul (Hippocamelus bisulcus)
The South Andean Deer, locally known as Huemul, is another species you might encounter while exploring Patagonia with Aurora Expeditions. While these gentle creatures are considered to be endangered with only 2,500 left in the wild, a strong conservation effort has found the Huemul slowly beginning to return to the area.
The deer is featured on the Chilean coat of arms and has a stocky build and short legs, well suited to its preferred habitat.
South American Fox (Lycalopex)
This small, fox-like creature is actually part of the dog family, or candiae. They live in open terrain, preferring abandoned dens and burrows in rocky areas. Their coat is long-haired and grey, and they can grow to be up to a metre long, with a bushy tail that measures an additional 25-50 centimetres.
Nocturnal, they feed on a mix of plants, small animals and birds, and have been shown to be useful in helping to control rodents. Fox parents will care for a litter of one to eight cubs.
Patagonian Fox, also known as the ‘zorro culpeo’, spotted on one of our #Patagonia Discovery Treks. . . . . . #visitpatagonia #trek #trekking #southamerica #wildlife #adventure #getoutdoors #liveyourownadventure #chile #argentina #fox #discoverpatagonia #auroraexpeditions @chiletravel @visitargentina @visitpatagonia
Patagonian Puma (Puma concolor)
This agile mountain cat is a territorial creature, preferring to roam alone. They grow to be about 2.4 metres from nose to tail, with adult males weighing up to 53-100 kilograms. The lengthy tail acts as a counter-balance, helping to keep the puma in control as it moves across challenging terrain.
Their big paws enable them to scale rocky mountains, while their powerful legs are ideal for leaping up to 5.5 metres into the air. The females will be solely in charge of rearing their young, who will be totally dependent on them for the first six months of their lives.
If you’ve been dreaming about exploring the beautiful region of Patagonia, then 2016 is the year to do something about it! Our Patagonia Discovery Trek covers the Perito Moreno Glacier and the Cerro Torre in Argentina, as well as a cruise to the Torres del Paine National Park in Chile.