The north of Chile is wide, diverse, and as I have told you, full of secrets. Another secret lays approximately 1 hour away from La Serena, in Punta de Choros, a small town with the reputation of being the best place to see wildlife in Chile. From there you can grab a tour to the Humboldt Penguin National Reserve, a magic place with diverse inhabitants you’ll be surprised by.
The national reserve is in Punta de Choros, an hour away from La Serena. A great thing about this place is that you can tour it by boat or diving if you’re more adventurous. The tour by boat takes 3 hours approximately - 3 hours of appreciating wildlife you wouldn’t expect in the north of Chile. There are at least 68 species in the national reserve such as the Humboldt penguin, sea lions, and even dolphins and whales if you are lucky! Three islands compose it: Isla Choros, Isla Damas and Isla Gaviota, I´ll tell you all about them right now!
Choros Island is very special because of its beauty; the rocky shores of the island have holes and “windows” formed by the action of the sea... imagine this and add colonies of penguins, sea lions, dolphins nearby, many birds. You get a natural paradise in the middle of the ocean. This island is home to many species such as sea lions, dolphins, turtles and a variety of birds among others. However, the very special inhabitants of this island are the Humboldt penguins, an endangered species that is protected and after which the national reserve got its name. A thing that you need to know is that for reasons of preservation and protection, you’re not allowed to step on this island.
This is the only island you can step in! There’s a path that gives you important information about flora and fauna of the island as you walk through it. You have one hour to discover this beautiful island and its inhabitants by walking through the designated path or just enjoying the white sand and turquoise water of the beaches, La Poza y La Tijera. Please keep in mind that you're only allowed to stay for an hour and you’re not allowed to camp here. These are measures taken to preserve the island and its wildlife.
The biggest of them all! Is also called Gaviota Island, which in Spanish means "seagull." A fun fact about this island is that most of its flora includes cactus. Humboldt penguins also live here, among other endangered species, such as sea otters, but the highlight of this island are the bottlenose dolphins, an endemic species of the zone. If you like diving, this is your place! Not only can you see dolphins and many marine species but also coral formations.
The National Reserve Humboldt Penguin has different opening hours depending on the period you're visiting (high season or low season).
The High season goes from December to March and the opening hours are every day from 09.00 to 14.00 -the reserve is usually evacuated at 16.00.
The low season goes from April to November and it is open from Wednesdays to Sundays and festivities, the opening hours are 09:00 to 16.30.
The reserve is not open on December 25th and January 1st. We highly recommend you take a tour to the National Reserve instead of going by yourself because is quicker and they take care of everything. If you go by yourself, you have to pay for a permit to enter the Damas Island at the CONAF office.
Punta de Choros will show you the wonders of nature and the importance of preservation of natural landscapes. The islands and its inhabitants will take a place in your heart and memory forever.
Cover Picture © Istock/joseph chaouat
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