I am writing this on our last night on Chiloé, an island in the southwestern part of Chile, in the northern part of what is considered Patagonia. Well, our last night… The ferry from Castro (Chiloé) to Chaitén (on the mainland, on route towards the south) was supposed to leave the 13th of December at 16.00. This would give us 5 hours of daylight on the open sea to search for dolphins and sea birds that are hard or even impossible to see from the mainland. Unfortunately they rescheduled, and we will leave at night at 02.00! Ah well, we had so many short nights already on Chiloé, one extra shouldn’t hurt.
Chiloé is an island which still has a lot of its native forest, has rugged coastlines and pristine rivers. The coastlines have mammal species like Marine Otters, and also Blue Whales migrate along these shores from December – March. Southern River Otters, one of the rarest otters in the world, is seen quite regularly in certain rivers here. On top of that some of the cutest mammals can be spotted in the forest. Think of Southern Pudu, the smallest deer; Kodkod, a rare cat species and Darwin’s Fox, which must be the cutest fox in the world! You can imagine this is one of those places we looked forward to for a long time and we couldn’t wait to explore the island and see these mammals. However, these mammals clearly didn’t want to see us. The Marine Otter population declined big time the last few years due to a certain type of algae. The Blue Whales hadn’t been spotted yet and still had to arrive from the north. The Southern River Otter wasn’t anywhere to be seen after 7 hours on the water and even more from the river banks. We spent lots of time on trails, walking more than 50km and spending about 8 nights and 2 mornings (about 20 hours!) spotlighting for Darwin’s Fox and Kodkod, but saw none! Southern Pudu was however super easy to see, and we had more than 50 observations of this cute little deer. Also we saw one Monito del Monte, a small arboreal marsupial, related most to the marsupials on Australia! So an odd one out here in South-America.
Now it’s our last night and Romy is preparing dinner while I write this blog. In a few hours we will walk another trail and after that spotlight for about 2 hours from 22.00-00.00. If there is not too much rain and wind we will get up again at 04.00 and try again for another hour (like we did this morning). If we don’t see a Darwin’s Fox or Kodkod, at least we tried. And that’s nature… unpredictable. And I guess that is what makes it frustrating and fun at the same time. Because if we spot a fox, even if it’s crossing the road for 2 seconds, it will make up for all those hours searching. There will be a lot more species the next 2 years during our world travel that we hope to see, but don’t get to see. The other way around, there will be a lot we’ll see and didn’t expect to. And that’s why it’s a Wild Life!