Beyond the towering mountains and turquoise lakes, catching a glimpse of a puma is undoubtedly one of Patagonia’s most awe-inspiring sights. Famously difficult to spot, your chances of witnessing these stealthy felines in the wild is greatly increased on a puma tracking tour. You’ll be led by an expert guide with a deep knowledge and understanding of this untamed terrain.
Tracking these elusive big cats need not mean disturbing them. In fact, the whereabouts of a puma is often given away by the movements of other creatures in this region.
Guanacos (tawny-coloured relatives of the llama) make a satisfying meal for big cats. They also noisily sound the alarm if they sense a predator nearby. Pinpoint where herds of guanacos graze on lichen and shrubs and listen carefully for a warning call. With any luck, you’ll encounter a puma on the hunt.
Similarly, a swirl of condors will often gather and swoop over a fresh kill. Spot them circling in the skies and you may well be close to a puma feasting on its prey.
Patagonia is home to the greatest population of pumas in the world. Around 50 individuals inhabit the remotest reaches of Torres del Paine National Park in Chile. While searching for big cats in this region, you’ll be immersed in a wilderness of snow-capped peaks, soaring granite spires and glassy lakes in gemstone hues. A vast array of wildlife thrives in this vibrant ecosystem, from grey foxes and huemul deer to rheas and flamingos.
Where to stay?
Nestled across these wild terrains are some truly beautiful properties. We’ve hand-picked some of our favourites, which offer luxury and comfort as well as exceptional puma tracking expeditions with world-class guides.
Explora sits amidst the open grasslands of Patagonia National Park. This stunning conservation area encompasses rivers, wetlands, glaciers and native lenga forests. The sleek, understated architecture is designed to blend seamlessly into the surrounding natural landscapes.
On the shores of Lake Sarmiento, bordering Torres del Paine, Tierra Patagonia offers a friendly and laid-back atmosphere. You’ll enjoy exceptional lakeside views, locally-made textiles and furnishings and roaring open fires. It’s one of our favourite places to stay in southern Patagonia.
Awasi Lodge and Puma Foundation
Awasi occupies a 15,000 acre private nature reserve. This luxury lodge’s commitment to conservation is impressive. The Awasi Puma Foundation works alongside scientists to gather ground breaking information on the behavioural patterns of native species and to plot wildlife movements by using hidden camera traps.