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You Can Now Take a Puma Trekking Trip In Chile And We're Already In Line...

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    In Chile, pumas are making a name for themselves in tourist circles whil Patagonia is becoming the go-to place to see pumas in the wild.

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    Chile is unusual for its dearth of predators. Pumas, as well as raptors like the Andean condor, are the primary threats to prey animals. Their range takes them from the country's far north all the way south to the Strait of Magellan. In Patagonia, where prey is abundant, pumas tend to be larger than in the rest of the Americas. They feed on guanacos (relatives of the llama), hares, geese, rheas and, along the coast, penguins.

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    Because pumas rule the Patagonian landscape, which is populated more by sheep, cattle and guanacos than by humans, they stalk fearlessly over the grasslands, little deigning to notice the humans who have come to see them.

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    They are much more interested in hunting a pair of hares near Hotel Las Torres in Torres del Paine National Park, ignoring the tourists following behind them with binoculars and cameras.

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    A number of hotels in the area now offer puma trekking trips in which guests go out with a guide familiar with the animals’ habits

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    While they might not be as visible or accessible as the lions ubiquitous in Africa, with a good guide, visitors stand an excellent chance of seeing them. "Guiding is always the most important part," says wildlife biologist Bill Given, owner and founder of travel company The Wild Source. "You need guides with local knowledge to know the best locations and the different individuals and their habits. Mountain lions, or pumas as they're called here, often have regular habits. They like to patrol a certain area. That's their known range, and they'll come through on a regular time sequence."


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