Discover life beyond llamas as you canoe, cruise and trek your way through the South American wilderness



The quintessential wildlife icon of South America is, of course, the llama. The subject of many silly selfies and one of the myriad rewards for trekking the Inca Trail to Machu Picchu.

While we at Chimu Adventures adore the humble llama and commend it for its impressive social media adulation (watch out, sloths), allow us to shine a light on South America’s other bountiful wildlife experiences. Buckle up because we are going to travel by canoe, by boat and by foot; it’s time for a Chimu South American safari!



Welcome to the jungle. Our first port of call for all things wild in South America must be the Amazon. This mighty rainforest has its roots in most South American countries, providing an increasingly threatened home for some of the world’s most incredible animals. Forget a dull flop and drop holiday, we are going on an ecotourism adventure to see creatures such as jaguars, sloths, pink dolphins, harpy eagles and macaws in their last remaining refuge.

The money we spend will boost the local economy, creating jobs for rural communities and providing education for the urgency of the Amazon’s conservation.

Did we mention there might be a few insects along the way? Don’t worry, they are only little… Luckily, there are ways of experiencing the Amazon in style and keeping the bugs at bay. Believe us, ‘eco’ does not mean basic. The likes of La Selva Ecolodge in Ecuador, a two and a half hour motorised canoe journey down the Napo River, will see us dining on beautiful, local Amazonian produce and resting our heads on luxury linen with leafy views.




Continuing in the gem of a country that is Ecuador, our next stop on the Chimu South American safari tour is the Galapagos Islands. This natural nirvana lies 1000 kilometres and just a two-hour flight west of Ecuador.

After bidding adios to the mainland and stepping into the kingdom of some of the world’s most intriguing wildlife, we will feel a lot further away than that. One of the best ways to see the creatures here is a multi-day trip by boat, allowing us to stop at several islands to investigate their inhabitants.

Isla Isabela is where we will find white-tipped reef sharks, Galapagos penguins and a swirl of sea lions patrolling the ocean. On Isla Fernandina, we will have to pick our way through the army of marine iguanas who may kindly allow us ashore while flightless cormorants watch on with beady eyes; and Isla Santiago will get us acquainted with marine life like rays, octopi, sharks and Sally-lightfoot crabs as we snorkel at Espumilla Beach.




Our South American safari is heading south. Way south. We need our winter woollies and a little bit of courage for this one as we fly three hours from Santiago de Chile to Punta Arenas, concluding our journey in the windswept Torres del Paine National Park in Patagonia. Here begins our puma encounter from our cosy base of Hotel Las Torres which is situated right inside the park. Our wake up call of direct mountain views and a blast of icy Torres del Paine air are enough to shake off any notions of sleep (or perhaps, the effects of the all-inclusive bar).

We  set off at 6:30am to observe, track and photograph the elusive ‘Andean Lion.’ Imposing glaciers, emerald lakes and rugged ranges are the puma’s playground. Here we will spend the next four days channelling our inner Attenborough trying to catch a glimpse of these incredible big cats against this breathtaking backdrop.

South America specialists, Chimu Adventures, can organise a South America safari for you based on exactly the wildlife you want to see, whether that wildlife is a jungle, ocean, sky or mountain dweller. Oh, and the llamas. We know where they hang out too, so rest assured those old favourites will still get a cheeky look in.


What wildlife would you love to encounter on a trip?


Written by Frances Armitage at Chimu Adventures.

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