Patagonia: Expedition for the
Earth’s 2013 Destination

With an area of over a million square kilometers, Patagonia offers an unrivalled landscape of jagged peaks, impossibly blue lakes and rivers, and fascinating deserts and grasslands. It encompasses the southern end of the spectacular Andes mountain range, at the southern tip of South America (including both Chilean and Argentinean territory). At its centre is the Patagonian Ice Field, a sea of ice the size of Hawaii and a source of the region's beautiful glaciers. From the rich and engaging culture of the city of Buenos Aires to the literal southern tip of the Western Hemisphere at the port city of Punta Arenas on the Straits of Magellan, Patagonia is awe-inspiring.

Torres del Paine National Park

In the heart of Patagonia is the breathtakingly beautiful Torres del Paine National Park, one of the most spectacular national parks on the planet. The park was designated a World Biosphere Reserve by UNESCO in 1978 for both its ecological significance and scenic beauty. It is a wonderland of snow-peaked mountains and towering granite peaks (including the iconic Torres del Paine (Towers of the Blue Sky) and Los Cuernos (the Horns). Highlights include tranquil trails through emerald southern-beech forests and the vast pampas grasslands, to brilliant blue glaciers and iceberg-filled azure lakes. The park attracts hikers, bird watchers, botanists, rock climbers, anglers and adventure-seekers from all over the world.


One of the most significant features of Torres del Paine is its large population of diverse wildlife, including 120 species of birds and 26 species of mammal. With the highest density of wildlife and diversity in all of Chile, Torres del Paine visitors enjoy regular animal sightings. Some species are abundant, like the guanaco, while others are endangered or vulnerable, such as the huemul (native deer), southern river otter, big hairy armadillo and puma.

Some of the unique mammal species in the park include:

The Guanaco
Just a few decades ago, the guanaco, a little cousin of the alpaca and llama, was endangered, but conservation efforts have raised its population significantly. Speed and mountain-goat-like alpine agility help these herbivores to survive in the park’s wide open grasslands, which offer no place to hide. Full of character and energy, these big-eyed animals roam the open plains in large family groups while providing good entertainment for trekkers.


The Puma
The Patagonian puma (or panther) is the southernmost of all mountain lions and is also one of the largest, measuring over eight feet from head to tail with an average weight of 90 kilograms. The Patagonian puma was almost hunted to extinction but through government protection, the population has been able to rebound. The elusive puma is a solitary, nocturnal creature, seldom seen but lucky visitors may spot their startlingly large paw prints in the snow. 

Culpeo Fox
The culpeo fox is the largest species of fox in South America and is often referred to as the Andean fox or the Patagonian fox. This South American mammal bears a resemblance to the widely recognized red fox in North America.


There are approximately 2,000 of the endangered South Andean deer alive in the world today, Chile’s national symbol and a high conservation priority. The park provides critical refuge for the huemul, whose stocky build and short legs make it well-suited to the broken, difficult terrain it inhabitats.


Some of the world’s rarest and most fascinating bird species are found in Torres del Paine National Park. Among these are 15 birds of prey, from the black-chested buzzard eagle, cinereous harrier and chimango caracara to the Magellanic horned owl. Other interesting birds include the Chilean flamingo, Magellan goose and black-faced ibis.

When you think of the wild mountains and desert of Patagonia, you don’t necessarily picture colorful tropical birds. That is what makes the region so spectacular though—it is full of the unexpected and some of the world’s rarest and most fascinating birds. Witnessing a flock of brightly colored austral parakeets flying through the grasslands, or Chilean Flamingoes silhouetted by snow-capped mountains feels a bit otherworldly.


Andean Condor
The Andean condor, a national symbol of Chile, has the largest wing span of any land bird in the world, reaching an amazing 3.2 meters. They are among the biggest birds on the planet. They inhabit large territories, often travelling more than 200 kilometers in a day in their search for carrion. They can reach heights of 7,000 meters, with speeds of 35 miles an hour. The condor can be observed soaring for hours on end over beech forests and open grasslands in the park, barely flapping its wings as it takes advantage of the uplifting air currents.

Darwin’s Rhea
The ostrich-like flightless rhea is the largest bird in South America. The rhea has large powerful legs enabling it to run swiftly, reaching speeds of up to 60 kilometers per hour. The sharp claws on its toes are effective weapons for self-defense. It can be seen feeding on roots, fruit, seeds and leaves in the grasslands within the park.


Cachana (Austral Parakeet or Emerald Parakeet)
These vibrant birds live further south than any other parrot in the Americas and are one of the few non-tropical parrots. It has beautiful green wings with metallic blue accents. At any given time you may see these lovebirds (who mate for life) flying side-by-side, or at mealtimes gathered in sociable flocks of over 100 birds.  


Magellanic Woodpecker
The largest South American woodpecker (and the third largest in the world) inhabits mature southern beech and cedar forests that grow among the towering mountains.  They can be seen feeding on grubs, beetles and even small reptiles.



Torrent Duck
This resident of the Andes and South America holds its territories on fast flowing mountain rivers usually above 1,500 meters with nests in watersides caves.  Living up to its name, the torrent duck finds its food in icy, fast flowing “white water” and is reluctant to fly even short distances.

Pygmy Owl
Whether you’re hiking during the day or camping at night, chances are you might see (or hear) a Patagonian pygmy owl. Unlike other owls, they are not strictly nocturnal, frequently emerging from their nests during the day. With their grey and brown coloring, however, they are well camouflaged and at a quarter pound or less, they are one of the Earth’s smallest owls. These clever birds imitate the songs of local birds, who then gather curiously around the newcomer. Once gathered, one will likely become the owl’s unsuspecting lunch.



With a diversity of natural landscapes and highly varied climatic influences, Torres del Paine offers a wide variety of unusual and beautiful plants and trees, including the southern-most orchids in the world.


The Patagonian steppe is dominated by wind-bent grasses, one of the few plants resistant to the harsh winds and weather of these vast open plains.


In contrast, in the Megallanic forest landscapes, the lush old growth beech forests (the world’s southernmost forests), thrive. These deciduous forests provide a stunning show of colour each autumn.

The shrublands closer to the mountains bring a colourful array of low-growing cushion-plants, creeping bushes and low-growing shrubs suited to the low humidity and drying effects of the wind. Chilean firebush, with gorgeous deep red flowers, thrives in the more temperate regions of the shrublands.

Above tree line is the Andean high desert, a seemingly inhospitable landscape is actually home to a fascinating array of alpine plants growing in crevices, rocks or fissures.


These amusing little creatures are Calceolaria Uniflora or “Darwin’s slipper flower.”

Discovered by Charles Darwin during his voyage around South America, these unique flowers resemble tiny orange penguins marching over the rocks.


The Magellan barberry, with its infinite little orangey-yellow flowers, has exquisitely sweet berries used for jams, sauces and tarts. Local legend has it that “he who eats the Magellan barberry will return to this land.”


Learn More

To learn more about Patagonia and Torres del Paine, visit these resourceful websites:
Park maps:
Plant list:
Bird list:
Rock climbing:

Sponsors and Partners

Nova Scotia Nature Trust

The Nature Trust is Nova Scotia’s leading land conservation charity, focused exclusively on protecting the province’s outstanding natural areas. Since 1994, the Nature Trust has worked together with landowners and local communities to protect the places they love. To date the Nature Trust has protected more than 5,800 acres, from unspoiled lakeshores, coastal wilderness and old growth forests to important wildlife habitat.

Visit the Nova Scotia Nature Trust website »

Become a Sponsor

Join as an expedition sponsor and gain many marketing and promotional benefits OR send your company to Patagonia!  Sponsor an employee or a valued customer and take advantage of unique opportunities to promote your company’s own Patagonia 2013 charity challenge. Encourage employees, customers and the general public to support your efforts to reach your fundraising goal in support of land conservation in Nova Scotia.

We invite you to join us for this exciting, unrivaled initiative that goes beyond charity runs, relays and sports events, golf tournaments and dinners that flood the charity/sponsorship market. It’s a unique adventure, to a unique destination, and it’s raising funds for a unique cause.  We look forward to helping you to meet your company’s charitable, marketing and environmental goals!

Become an expedition sponsor today. Contact the Nature Trust at (902) 425-5263 or to get a sponsorship package.


Nova Scotia Nature Trust
PO Box 2202
Halifax, NS
B3J 3C4

Phone: (902) 425-LAND (5263)
Fax: (902) 429-LAND (5263)


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