Where to see Penguins In Chile

There’s just something remarkable about Penguins in Chile that makes even the toughest of hearts swoon awwwwwwwww. Chile is so lucky to have the most accessible penguin colonies in the world! We have 5 different types of Penguins in Chile, delighting all animal lovers and wildlife photographers who visit in search of the best time to see Penguins in Chile. The good news is though, they aren’t just as far south or seasonal as you think!

Beautiful, streamline, sleek and fast in the sea but then the clumsiest, funniest looking thing ever waddling on dry land. So animated are their movements, the penguins seem almost a caricature of themselves. Whilst enjoying their company, small dramas will unfold before you. Lovers’ tiffs, fights over girls, what looks like chivalry as they waddle around like Charlie Chaplin greeting incomers who have presumably been off feeding. Yep, they’re a firm favourite at Condor Campers HQ and so, if you’re wondering where and when to see Penguins in Chile, read on!

Magallenic Penguins

Magallenic Penguins in chile on Isla Magdelana with lighthouse in background

Interesting fact: The most common type of penguins in Chile. The only migratory penguins we have moving north to Peru in winter.

Diet: Anchovies and sardines, supplemented by cephalopods.

Where to see Magallenic Penguins in Chile: Isla Magdelana (walk amongst 60,000 breeding pairs) and the island of Chiloé.

Best time to see Penguins in Chile: November to early March.

How to get there in your Condor Camper: Isla Magdelana is accessed from Punta Arenas with many boat companies offering trips. On the island of Chiloé, drive to Playa Mar Brava beach and catch a small boat to take you to the penguins. The iOverlander app has many great free camp spots in both locations.

King Penguins

King penguins in chile looking down on its fluffy young chick

Interesting fact: King Penguins are one of the few birds that do not build nests; eggs are incubated under their bellies on top of their ‘Happy’ feet!

Diet: More specialised than other penguins in Chile, they prefer pelagic fish (like the lanternfish) more than crustaceans any day!

Where to see King Penguins in Chile: Parque Pinguino Rey located in Useless bay, Tierra del Fuego.

Best time to see Penguins in Chile:  If you can brave the weather, all year!

How to get there in your Condor Camper:  Parque Pinguino Rey opened in November 2011 allowing year-round, inexpensive, easily accessible trips to see the formally-dressed, feathered inhabitants.

There’s a car park, a visitor centre and plenty of iOverlander overnight camp spots nearby meaning, you can rise early and get some amazing sunrise photos before the tour groups arrive!  You can drive in a day from Punta Arenas, however, we would recommend taking your time and enjoying the area. For more info on the national park visit King Penguin Park and book in advance as visitor numbers are limited!

Gentoo Penguins

A Gentoo penguin in chile jumping feet first from the sea onto an icebergInteresting Fact: The fastest penguin species in the world reaching 22mph!

Diet: Just loves krill, squid if it must!

Where to see Gentoo Penguins:  Isla Martillo, Ushuaia, Argentina. There is also a huge colony of Magallenic Penguins there and some King Penguins too!

Best time to see Penguins: October to end of March.


How to get there in your Condor Camper: Accessed via the park reserve HQ, Estancia Harberton (1hr 40mins from Ushuaia). You can obtain a free camp permit at the office which allows you to camp anywhere in the area. If you want to walk with the penguins, the company Pira Tour has full concession and must be booked in Ushuaia. The penguins are 15 mins by boat from the Estancia, tell them you have your own transport (as its much cheaper). If you arrive at the Estancia early before the tours, we believe that you ‘may be’ lucky and they may let you on a boat directly from there. Please, this is only a ‘maybe’. If you only have a small amount of time best to pre book from Ushuaia.

Humbolt Penguins

Four humbolt penguins in chile sitting on a rock in the sunInteresting Fact: Named after the Humbolt current, they stay true to their name and are real home birds, venturing only 3.5 km away their colonies!

Diet: Anchovies, sardines and the odd tasty squid.

Where to see Humbolt Penguins in Chile:  Magdelana Island, Island of Chiloé and the Reserva Nacional Pinguino de Humbolt (Isla Damas and Isla Chanaral).

Best time to see Penguins in Chile: October/November to March.

How to get there in your Condor Camper : Magdelana Islands are accessed from Punta Arenas. On the island of Chiloé, drive to the beach and book on a small boat to take you to the penguins. The Reserva Nacional Pinguino de Humbolt (100km north of La Serena) is made up of many islands. Our favourite is Isla Chanaral in the beautiful fishing village of Chanaral (In our opinion much nicer than Punta de Choros). You can also dive there, spot whales, sea otters and lots of sea lions. iOverlander has some great camp spots in this area.

Southern Rockhopper Penguins

A facial shot of a rockhopper penguin in chile showing its yellow spikey hairInteresting Fact: Their name comes from their ‘hopping’ action rather than the usual penguin ‘waddle’ !

Diet: Loves crustaceans but fish and cephalopods will do once in a while.

Where to see Rockhopper Penguins in Chile: A small group has joined the king penguin colony in Inútil Bay (Useless Bay) in Tierra del Fuego. The best place to see Rockhoppers though is in Puerto Deseado in Argentina.

Best time to see Penguins in Chile/Argentina: October to April.

How to get there in your Condor Camper: Drive to the coastal town of Puerto Deseado and from there you can take a boat to the Isla Pinguino. A municipal campground and wild camps can be found on iOverlander. For Useless Bay see Gentoo Penguin section.

To help you plan your Penguin tour around Chile visit our Road Trips page. For tips on how to be a responsible camper and how you can help us to protect our wildlife please visit our Eco Page

Please note, our cheeky inhabitants aren’t always on time or on schedule. Check online before you travel.

Book you Condor Camper today to enjoy your Happy PPPPP Penguin spotting!!