Where to see Condors in South America
They are one of the great symbols of South America and the Andes Mountains, a combination of power and grace that stirs a sense of wonder in visitors from far and wide. They are often seen gliding along powerful winds up high, their razor-sharp eyes peeled and their wings spread wide, up to 10 feet in total. Whilst condors live throughout the continent's Andean regions, they are most commonly seen further south and there a few spots in Peru, Chile and Argentina where it is possible to get a close look at these majestic creatures in their natural habitat, without disturbing them, damaging their environment or risking ongoing conservation efforts. So let's have a look at five of the best places to see condors up close in South America.
Cruz del Condor, Colca Canyon - Peru
Probably the most well-known place to observe the great birds is at the Mirador Cruz del Condor in the immense Colca Canyon in the south of Peru. The canyon is reached via the attractive 'White City' of Arequipa, famed for its colonial buildings and leafy squares, itself a short flight south from the capital Lima. Colca Canyon is considered to be one of the deepest in the world, far deeper in fact than its more famous contemporary in the Arizona Desert.
The highlight of a visit here though is the chance to hike up to the Mirador, located 3,200 metres above sea level. Condors swoop and circle back and forth, almost within touching distance, as the vertiginous walls of the canyon provide a suitably epic backdrop. Where possible, it is always best to arrive here as early as possible to see the birds at their most active and also to share the experience with fewer guests.
See our tours to Colca Canyon
photo by Randal Sheppard
Enchanted Valley, Lake District, Argentina
The wonderfully named Enchanted Valley is situated at the confluence of two rivers, in the heart of the Argentina Lake district, some 40 miles from the town of Bariloche. It is an area of astonishing beauty, where verdant hillside forests converge with reflective lakes and towering centuries-old volcanic rock formations. These 'sculptures' have taken some vivid names thanks to their resemblance to castles, lions, trains or cathedral towers. There are also caves in the area, used by nomadic tribes for shelter and protection.
It is a truly enchanting place where visitors can not only admire the scenery, but also partake in a number of activities, including water-sports. But of course, it wouldn't be on this list if it wasn't somewhere where you'd stand a good chance of seeing Andean Condors in flight. A nearby nesting site increases the chances of seeing them on your visit to the Enchanted Valley.
See our tours to Bariloche and the Argentine Lake District
Estancia Huechahue - Argentina
Estancia Huechahue is a cattle farm estate spread out over rolling plains, grasslands, forests and wetlands in the foothills of the Andes in Northern Patagonia. A stay here allows intrepid travellers to immerse themselves in the Guacho way of life, riding horses, eating asado style barbecues, helping to herd the cattle and even learning how to throw a lasso. There are also a range of other activities on offer, including rafting, fly-fishing, bird-watching and hiking.
Walks through the vast estancia afford panoramic views of the perfectly conical Lanin Volcano, as well as bringing you closer to their condor nesting site. According to the estancia, the best time to see soaring condors is between mid-September to mid-November and from mid-March to the end of April.
As well as condors there are some 170 different bird species living within the estate.
Learn more about Estancia Huechahue
El Calafate's Balcony - Argentina
El Calafate is best known as a base from which to visit the nearby Perito Moreno Glacier or cruise down narrow Patagonian channels to the more remote glaciers at Upsula and Spegazzini. But a lesser visited sight is the Calafate Balcony, a natural viewpoint which affords sweeping views across the Andes Mountain range, Lake Argentina and the glaciers around Boca del Diablo.
The Balcony also happens to be a great place to see Andean Condors soaring in the powerful Patagonian wind.
See our tours to El Calafate
Ascencio Valley & Cerro Cóndor, Torres del Paine - Chile
Torres del Paine is one the continent's premier hiking destinations, a wonderful national park charactarised by towering granite peaks, powerful glaciers, shimmering turquoise lakes and open pampas. It provides a home to wandering guanacos, reclusive pumas and, of course, soaring condors.
From Mirador Cerro Cóndor you can enjoy a sumptuous panoramic view of Lake Pehoe and the three towers after which the park is named, as well as a chance of spotting a condor in flight, given the proximity of several nesting sites here.
See our tours to Torres del Paine
Inspired by our any of the places in our guide to the best places to see Andean condors? We'd love to help you realise your dream and see the majestic birds up close. You can browse below for a selection of tours that to some of these places, or if you want something a little more bespoke, drop us an email and we'll get straight back to you to start planning your adventure!
Find your perfect Holiday from our
Chasqui Active Tour
14 Nights from £3,349 €3,118 $3,353
Active Tour of Peru, with day walks in the Colca Canyon, Sacred Valley, and finishing with the Inca Trail to Machu Picchu.
14 Nights from £3,349 €3,118 $3,353Full Itinerary Contact Specialist
Day 1 - Welcome to Lima
Day 2 - Lima City Tour
Day 3 - City Tour & Santa Catalina Convent
Day 4 - Colca Canyon
Day 5 - Continue to Puno, Lake Titicaca
Day 6 - Tour of Uros & Taquile Islands
Day 7 - Journey to Cusco
Days 8-9 - Full Day Tour of the Sacred Valley
Days 10-12 - Ancient Inca Trail
Day 13 - Guided tour of the site
Day 14 - Tour of the city
Day 15 - Flight home via Lima
10 Nights from £3,305 €3,066 $3,296
Combine in-depth Buenos Aires with pristine alpine and mountain scenery, endemic birds and the towering Perito Moreno glacier.
10 Nights from £3,305 €3,066 $3,296Full Itinerary Contact Specialist
Day 1 - Overnight flight to Buenos Aires
Day 2 - Buenos Aires at leisure or optional tours/excursions
Day 3 - Buenos Aires city & history tour
Day 4 - Dinner & Tango Show
Day 5 - Fly to Bariloche
Day 6 - Scenic lakes, forest walks & endemic birds
Day 7 - Lake District at leisure
Day 8 - Fly to El Calafate
Day 9 - Perito Moreno Glacier
Day 10 - El Calafate's Balcony
Day 11 - Fly to Buenos Aires
Day 12 - Return flight to the UK
13 Nights from £4,465 €4,458 $4,804
A thin ribbon of land stretching between the Andes and the Pacific. We visit the Atacama desert, the green lakes and mighty volcanoes of the Lake District …
13 Nights from £4,465 €4,458 $4,804Full Itinerary Contact Specialist
Day 1 - Departure from the UK
Day 2 - Arrive Santiago. Tour of the city
Day 3-4 - Santiago at leisure
Day 5 - Puerto Varas, Lake District
Day 6 - Lago Todos Los Santos, Lake District
Day 7 - Travelling to Torres del Paine
Day 8-9 - Torres del Paine National Park
Day 10 - Travel to Santiago with Overnight Stay
Day 11 - Travelling to San Pedro de Atacama
Day 12 - Moon Valley
Day 13 - El Tatio Geysers
Day 14 - Salar de Atacama & fly to Santiago
Day 15 - Return to the UK
Day 16 - Arrive home
Extend your trip
Days 1-2 - Moai Statues
Day 3 - Crater Lake
Day 4 - Return to Santiago
San Martin Tour
20 Nights from £4,004 €3,904 $4,205
A grand tour of Argentina's diverse landscapes, from vast wetlands and tropical forests to arid deserts, glistening lakes and immense glaciers.
20 Nights from £4,004 €3,904 $4,205Full Itinerary Contact Specialist
Day 1 - Overnight flight to Buenos Aires
Days 2-4 - Buenos Aires at leisure or optional tours/excursions
Day 5 - Fly to Salta
Day 6 - Cafayate Desert Landscapes and Winery
Day 7 - Self-drive from Salta to Purmamarca
Day 8 - Self-drive from Purmamarca to Salta
Day 9 - Fly to Iguazu
Day 10 - Iguazu Falls
Day 11 - Transfer to Posadas via San Ignacio Ruins
Day 12 - Iberá Wetlands excursions with lodge guides
Day 13 - Fly to Bariloche via Buenos Aires
Day 14-15 - Self-drive from San Martin
Day 16-17 - Self-drive from Bariloche
Day 18 - Return car & fly to El Calafate
Day 19 - Perito Moreno Glacier
Day 20 - Glaciers & Patagonian Lakes Cruise
Day 21 - Fly to Buenos Aires
Day 22 - Return flight to London