Patagonia Chile

Patagonia Chile

The Cruise season has arrived and with it brings endless activities for tourists who visit us. Whatever you are looking for, North Patagonia will give you what you are looking for, with many daily activities, for all tastes, whether cultural, natural or adventure, even mixed and these are some options we have for you.

AROUND LLANQUIHUE LAKE PUERTO OCTAY, FRUTILLAR, LLANQUIHUE, AND OTHERS

 

The excursion takes us around Lake Llanquihue. This is the third largest natural lake in South America and second largest in Chile. The Lake is surrounded by several small towns and magnificent scenery, including Osorno and other volcanoes. We will stop to visit some towns.

Depart from your Puerto Varas or Puerto Montt hotel or pier. Our excursion takes us around Lake Llanquihue. This is the third largest natural lake in South America and second largest in Chile at 886,000 km. sq. and 350 meters deep. It is surrounded by several small towns and magnificent scenery, including Osorno and other volcanoes. We will stop to visit a number of them, depending on time, weather, and your interests. The choices include:

 

1. Puerto Varas (our starting point): founded in 1853 by German settlers.

 

2. Laguna Verde (a small green lagoon off Lake Llanquihue): a beautiful place for a short walk and taking photos. This vantage point also gives a good perspective of the size of the lake. Depending on the day and the season, you may spot local wildlife along the wooded shoreline.

 

3. Drive a short distance up the skirts of Osorno Volcano to the Burbuja ski area where you can see the glacial run-off from the volcano slopes and glaciers. Also see a wide variety of lava formations created by the lava flows from Osorno. Marvel at the great views around us (weather permitting). Take in the scale of the lake and its surroundings.

 

4. Las Cascadas Village: located 13.6 miles further, following the road through the foothills of the towering volcano. Here we have an opportunity to visit a beautiful waterfall 40 meters tall, depending on road conditions and weather.

 

5. As we continue our route, always surrounded by beautiful native trees and sandy beaches, we head to Puerto Octay, located on the north shore of the lake. The German influence is evident in the Casonas Germanas (large German houses) and their agricultural fields. Much of the area around the lake was settled by German immigrants, before WWI.

 

Take time to walk around its ancient streets and plaza, and later take beautiful photos from different viewpoints. There is also a local museum that you can visit on your own.

 

6. We continue our route along the lake shore, until we arrive at Frutillar. Take time to walk and explore its beautiful gardens or taste a delicious German pastry. (Each year between January 27 and February 5, a festival of classical music, known internationally as The Musical Week of Frutillar takes place. On this occasion the town welcomes tourists from around the world who come to enjoy the show.)

 

7. Always bordering Lake Llanquihue, we head to the town of Llanquihue, famous for its sausages and as the place of origin of the River Maullín, the old route of the settlers. In the town we visit the Memorial to the German Colonists.

 

Having completed our loop around the lake, we now take the Pan-American Highway (the same highway that begins in Alaska in USA and ends on the Island of Chiloé, some miles down the road), and return to your hotel or pier.

 

Optional lunch in the Cascadas village (sandwich or empanadas) or regular lunch at Puerto Octay or Frutillar. (Food at your own expense.)

Note for Cruise ship passengers: We return one hour before the last tender. If necessary, the excursion will be shortened to ensure timely return.

 

Note: It is essential that you wear appropriate layered clothing in order to fully enjoy and participate in this excursion, windbreaker, sunglasses, hat, and sun protection.

Come and discover with us the natural, cultural and adventure wonders that Around Lake LLanquihue it has for you.

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Take advantage of our experience and do not miss this 2019-2020 season

Caleta Tortel, one of the places that I most wanted to know in the whole area due to its peculiar shape and its famous catwalks. And it is undoubtedly the town that most attracts the attention of any traveler who visits these latitudes.

It is located about 1130 kilometers south of Puerto Montt, 126 kilometers from Cochrane and 152 kilometers from Villa O’Higgins. Although the Carretera Austral directly connects Cochrane with Villa O’Higgins, half way there is a branch of about 23 kilometers that lead to Caleta Tortel. This branch was built in 2004 and, until then, the only way to get there was by boat.

Tortel is a small group of houses that extend along the shore of the fjord. Its main characteristic is that it does not have streets and therefore vehicles do not circulate through it. When you get to the entrance of the town you have to leave any vehicle parked and forget about it until you decide to take the road back.

Meanwhile, the time we are in Caleta Tortel will be spent walking on cypress wooden footbridges that connect the dozens of colored houses that make it up. The contrast of the houses with the lush and green vegetation that surrounds them is spectacular.

Many of the houses are built on stilts over the water and others on the mountainside in an almost jungle setting. The downside of this is if you go with a suitcase of wheels, as was my case, because the wheels are continually hooked on the boards and the many ups and downs of stairs are terrible if you’re loaded.

It is not a town with a lot of life. Only about 500 inhabitants live permanently and outside the high season there are hardly any people on the street. Nor are they specially prepared for tourism. We must remember that until the road opened almost no tourist ventured to get there.

Since then, little by little they have been opening up to the world of tourism and there are several hotels and restaurants that work in the town, as well as small companies that organize tours to the places of interest in the surroundings. But out of season it is very likely that you will arrive and not find an open restaurant or with provisions to serve meals.

In a gesture to improve the infrastructures to attract more tourists, in 2012 nearly 1000 meters of footbridges were improved and several covered viewpoints were built within the town itself.

In Caleta Tortel it almost always rains, and it’s no exaggeration. They told me that during the year more than 300 days rain falls and it is really difficult to find a clear day. Nothing else to see the pictures to realize that the day was totally gray, and during the morning I spent there before leaving for Villa O’Higgins I was almost all the time walking in a soft rain but without rest.

Anyway, the gray days are always quite interesting because the clouds become a gigantic light box that although dim. Everything lights up evenly and avoids the sometimes annoying shadows in some photos.

Another curiosity of Tortel is that water changes color depending on weather conditions and light. You can see some pictures with the water totally green and in others the same water has a milky hue, pulling to gray. Really curious.

WHAT TO SEE AND DO IN CALETA TORTEL?

When I traveled so long along the Carretera Austral for two weeks, during which time I wanted to see too many things, I could not spend 24 hours visiting the town. I would have liked to be able to visit some of the fantastic places that Caleta Tortel can reach from here, but I would have had to sacrifice other, less interesting things along the way.

These are some of the places that I missed, some of them really impressive:

Jorge Montt Glacier
The Jorge Montt Glacier is one of the main glaciers that form the Southern Patagonian Ice Field. To get there you have to sail for three or four hours in a route of great charm between fjords, where you can see a lot of mammals and seabirds and in the last section is navigated between icebergs as a result of the constant retreat of the mass of ice, which disappears at an alarming level of one kilometer per year.

A pity not having been able to visit it, at the rate that it may be on my next trip to Patagonia, it is no longer possible to do so.

Steffen Glacier
If the previous one was the entrance to the Southern Ice Field, the Steffen Glacier is from the Northern Patagonian Ice Field. One of the most inaccessible glaciers in all of Patagonia because to reach it you have to sail for about four or five hours, first through the mouth of the Baker and then through Steffen Glacier Bay. Once in the bay, it is also navigated along with hundreds of large blocks of ice detached from the glacier, to finally reach the Huemules River and the lush forests that surround the glacier.

This tour is expensive and difficult to do. I once read that it was possible to spend the night inside the bay, in the house of descendants of the first settlers of the region who still live there. Ideal to know first hand the history of the whole region.

Island of the dead
It is one of the most mysterious places in the south of Chile. The Island of the Dead, formed at the mouth of the Baker River, has a very dark past in which, according to reports, more than a hundred workers died more than a century ago. Although it has not been possible to prove anything of all this, apparently these workers were taken to the zone with intention to open a way that united what is now Tortel with Argentina. But for unknown reasons they began to get sick and die, being buried on the island.

It is said that they were poisoned by the company to not pay their salary. Also that was accidentally because of food in poor condition. In any case, a rather grim story for a place that is now being visited by tourists in order to see a cemetery in which there are only 33 of the 120 crosses that were counted in the middle of the 20th century.

To get there you have to sail about 15 minutes from Caleta Tortel and it is not economical if you do not join a group. In low season it is not easy to travel there.

Viewpoints of the Cerro de Tortel
What I did during my stay in Tortel, as well as going up and down hundreds of wooden steps and going along footbridges, was to walk along a path that climbs up to some viewpoints at the top of the hill where most of the houses in the town are located.

From the parking roundabout at the entrance to the town, where the tourist information point is, take a walkway that leads to the last houses in the opposite direction of the fjord. From there you take a small path that goes up on wooden boards to avoid multiple flooded areas.

Once up, you can see the mouth of the Baker River, the Island of the Dead and the Mitchell Fjord. Also mountains and waterfalls in the distance. Landscapes of great beauty, and very green.

There is no doubt that Caleta Tortel is a special place that serves as the port of entry to the Northern Patagonian Ice Field and the Southern Patagonian Ice Field, two large masses of ice that form the third largest expanse of ice on the planet after the Antarctica and Greenland, and to which belong well-known glaciers such as Perito Moreno, Exploradores, Calluqueo, Gray, San Rafael, O’Higgins, and of course the aforementioned Jorge Montt and Steffen.

The Region of Aysén is a privileged area for lovers of virgin and untamed nature. Beyond the well-known Carretera Austral, there are a number of places and beautiful corners that are known only by a few adventurous souls.

The route that joins the National Reserve Lake Jeinimeni with the Patagonia Park is counted among some of the most beautiful and least traveled routes in the country that during 3 days of adventure in the middle of lakes, mountains and Patagonian steppe turn this route into an incredible destination for the more adventurous.

Patagonia Park, currently a private park limited to the Chacabuco Valley area, seeks in the near future the creation of the Patagonia National Park, which will incorporate the Lake Jeinimeni National Reserve.

This is a somewhat difficult path. Whether it is accessed by the north or the south (this route can be done in both directions) there is the disadvantage that there is no public transport. In addition, this is a route that only has a one-way stretch, so going by private vehicle is not an option.
The north access is through the entrance and administration of the National Reserve Lake Jeinimeni, located about 65 km from the town of Chile Chico (accessible from the city of Coyhaique by bus). In Chile Chico there are mainly informal transport services that lead to the reserve. The cost of the trip is approximately CLP 50,000. There is always the alternative of negotiating with local people or hitchhiking (in summer the flow of vehicles going to the Lago Jeinimeni Reserve increases). The route, made from north to south, ends at the Casa de Piedra campsite, very close to where the X-83 route passes, where you can hitchhike (hitchhiking) to reach the city of Cochrane.

The route begins at the entrance to the National Reserve Lake Jeinimeni, 65 km south of Chile Chico, and ends at the Casa de Piedra campsite in the Patagonia Park, after 47 km of walking. The difficulty of this route is that it is very physically demanding, with days that exceed 7 hrs of walking and some sections of high slope (first section). Additionally, rivers and estuaries must be crossed several times.

It is advisable to be in good physical condition and have some experience in this type of activity.

The route that runs through the Lago Jeinimeni Reserve and the Patagonia Park presents the opportunity to enjoy nature in a virgin state, being a little known and visited destination. The route passes next to spectacular green and turquoise lakes, rivers and estuaries, mountain passes, forest sectors and Patagonian steppe, crossing what was once a route used by settlers.

Venture on this route and get to know one of the most important conservation projects in Chile and the world!

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In the southernmost zone of Chile, where the limits of the Chilean territory are blurred and transformed into fragments scattered by the sea, is the Madre de Dios Island. Almost unexplored by man, it is known as a distant echo thanks to the mystery that its caverns, channels and cliffs enclose.

Isla Madre de Dios is located in the Pacific Ocean south of the Gulf of Penas, in the Province of Última Esperanza. It is part of the Archipelago also called Madre de Dios and about 6 thousand years ago its coasts were inhabited by the Kawésqar people.

The island is located in the last corner of the world, and is made up of limestone rock that holds important scientific information, which has aroused worldwide interest. In it, relevant archaeological, geological and paleontological discoveries have been discovered, a true natural laboratory with unprecedented antecedents of the different eras of humanity, from the transformations of the climate to the formation of the continents.

Important studies indicate that at this point a geological break was recorded that would explain the origin of the planet, among other things due to the existence of coral reefs, typical of temperate zones, which reached this latitude. In addition, discoveries of cave paintings were made in these remote places, fact that has allowed to change the theories about the life of the Kawésqar people.

This place has, among its natural beauties, impressive caves and deep cracks in these calcareous islands where incredible Marble Glaciers are found, cavities cataloged as the largest in South America, and that must withstand, in addition to the hurricane winds, eight meters of rain per square meter that erode it every year.

By virtue of international treaties signed by Chile, including Convention 169 on indigenous peoples, in order to be recognized with their own identity and with rights deriving from their historical and contemporary presence, the criterion of the indigenous ethnic groups they knew will also be known. the wonderful place today called Isla Madre de Dios.

Isla Madre de Dios is located 150 kilometers west of Puerto Natales in the Magallanes Region, lost in the Pacific, more than 20 hours by boat. It recognizes the existence of a wide range of components of Natural and Cultural Heritage really invaluable and unknown, waiting to be explored, researched and brought to the attention of the local, national and international community.

There are thousands of reasons why this island is a living enigma in the southern borders of Chile. Its icy cliffs allow you to appreciate the continent from the outside and, while in its dark marble caverns you can find human and whale bones, it proposes a mystery from the Pangea era about what is the origin of its strange conformation.

One day sailing from Puerto Natales, this floating enigma with an impressive biodiversity is located, it has the largest cavity in Chile with 376 meters of depth.

If you think you know Chile, we tell you that you still have to visit a miracle of nature that will surprise you. Wild and contradictory, it is an unexplored paradise that you must add to your list of destinations.

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Created on June 19, 1970 as National Reserve and Accounting on October 2, 2017 the decree that rises to the category of the National Park was signed. It has a total area of ​​138,164 hectares. It is located south of the Aysén region, 64 kilometers from the city of Coyhaique.

The melting of the glaciers, which thousands of years ago settled on this territory, life to the envoys and the valleys that today make up this National Park. Its untamed nature accounts for the natural, geological and vulcanological changes of the region it has undergone for centuries.

The National Park stands out for the protection of the species of huemul fauna (Hippocamelus bisulcus), puma (Felis concolor), guanaco (Lama guanicoe), patagonian chingue (Conepatus humboldti) and red fox (Pseudalopex), among others.

In the area there is a tendency to climate of cold and continental climate with steppe degeneration, which covers a large part of the slope of the Andes, with a very cold temperature and snow in the winter.

Near the intersection towards Puerto Ibáñez, the majestic Castle Hill dominates from the heights, which, with its glaciers, snowdrifts and 2,675 meters high, becomes a focus of interest for lovers of outdoor activities.

The crossing of Cerro Castillo, without fear of making mistakes, is one of the most spectacular routes in Chilean Patagonia, and of Chile in general. Although I still do not know very little, the characteristics and the characteristics that can be compared with the beauty and spectacularity of the most popular circuits and the crossings of Torres del Paine. The route must be its prodigiousness, the park and the actress, in general, the magnificent Cordillera del Castillo, in particular, the maximum king is the fast tower and the dramatic one of its greater summit, the hill Castle, that with the fertility it gives name everything that surrounds you, including this tour.

In its most extended version, along more than 50 km, this excursion will travel three Patagonian valleys through pampas, rivers, forests, rock and snow. By spotting and contemplating, along this excursion, a myriad of landscapes and colors, the wildest landscapes of Patagonia, which are embedded in the popular imagination. Blue and white snowdrifts, emerald lagoons, pristine rivers, forests of cities and languages ​​of dark greens, the washed grayish rock of the upper parts of the moraines, the philosophical and purple, and the stormy and fickle skies that gird the tall baskets, All they smear a rich palette of colors and contrasts.

Tracing what from above or in a Cartesian plane evokes an anchor, the crossing goes “along” the valleys of the Turbio River, the estuary The forest and the estuary Parada, in which order. In each of these water courses. This is done, in its conventional and logical mode, starting from the north, going in the southwest direction in two thirds of the shipment, and then from North to South in its final part. Naturally, to pass a valley to the other, the route presents two high passages of the mountain, the passage of the rock or the lime and the passage of the castle, key and characteristic points that have been revised of certain difficulty and physical exigency absent in other similar crossings. As a consequence also of this morphology of the route, the crossing exhibits numerous ascents and descents. Crucially, the site is rounded, rolled, rounded the castle range, becomes more difficult and demanding, you can see the most spectacular face of the castle, contemplating the fabulous glacier of its east face, and its towers more fierce.

It is one of the largest parks in the world and the second largest in Chile. It covers a large part of the archipelagos of the Provinces of Magallanes and Ultima Esperanza, as well as half of the surface of Riesco Island. Its landscapes are a mosaic composed of mountain ranges, forests, glaciers, fjords, lakes, wetlands and valleys that form virgin ecosystems of unparalleled beauty and habitat of a great diversity of species. The fjord of the mountains and the Sarmiento mountain range are some of the natural wonders of this park, which attracts the eyes of visitors from all over the world.

The Magallanes Rainforest dominates the landscape with species such as Coigue de Magallanes, Ciprés de las Guaitecas and Canelo, to a lesser extent. You can also find Lengas and Ñirres and species associated with the peat bogs, as well as shrub vegetation such as Chilco, Calafate, Zarzaparrilla, Murtilla, scrubland and coastal grassland composed of coastal strips of grasses.

The park is home to around 24 species of mammals, including Huemul, Puma, Gato Montés, Zorro Culpeo and Chilla, as well as 136 species of birds such as the Condor, Fío, Churrín del Sur and the Magellanic Woodpecker. It is also home to marine species such as Black-browed Albatross, Sea Swallows and Cormorants. There are 4 types of Dolphins, Wolves, Sea Elephants, Penguins and Whales like the Humpback, as well as Leopard Seals, Huillines and Chungungos.

Seven thousand years ago the Kawésqar would have sailed between the southern Gulf of Penas and the Strait of Magellan in their boats known as “the queen of American canoes” for the perfection of its construction. Made of Coigüe bark and covered with vegetable fibers, they spent much of their lives in them, hunting and going through the labyrinthine fjords, while the women were expert divers. Its name means “to be rational skin and bones”, its average height was 1.66 meters and its population was estimated at more than 3 thousand inhabitants. In 2006, paintings were found on Madre de Dios Island, south of Puerto Eden, which would suggest that this town developed some kind of writing or symbolism.

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The Route of the Patagonian Parks includes 17 national parks. It covers an area of 2,800 kilometers (1739 mi), 60 village communities and 11.5 million hectares of protected land inhabited by 140 bird species and 46 mammal species.

The 17 parks are located in the southern most region of Chile, between Puerto Montt and Cape Horn, which features the Carretera Austral (The Southern Way), the Patagonian Canals and the Route often referred to as ‘Fin del Mundo’, the End of the World.

What follows is a description of the most important aspects of this new destination in Chile that has the potential of becoming the most spectacular scenic route in the world.

Tompkins’ Legacy

Tompkins visualized the Route of the Patagonian Parks, 17 protected ecosystems with land owned by his foundation, adjacent to existing parks and that Tompkins turned into an opportunity for their development through tourism.

Douglas Tompkins was a businessman and ecologist from Ohio, United States, who was dedicated to conservation and environmental activism. He was the Founder of an important brand of outdoor equipment and clothing. Through the years, Tompkins took several trips to Chile and finally decided to move to Patagonia. He was a foreigner interested in promoting local culture who loved the rural lifestyle and acquired large extensions of land in the Patagonia.

However, being an ecologist, he believed that these large extensions of land should not be in private hands. His dream was to develop an infrastructure and eventually donate the project to the Chilean state to be maintained as protected national parks.

Today the Route of the Patagonian Parks is a new destination on the doorstep of the end of the world, with a mix of diverse ecosystems, enchanting landscapes, native and endemic flora and fauna, history and culture. It’s a new route that seeks to balance the protection of the environment with the economic development of its 60 communities through sustainable tourism.

Introducing the 17 Parks of the Patagonia:

Alerce Andino National Park

This ecosystem is located south of Lake Chapo, categorized as a Biosphere Reserve in the Temperate Rain Forests of the Southern Andes Mountains.

Hornopirén National Park

Hornopirén Park, “snow oven” in the native Mapudungún language, is part of the World Biosphere Reserve of Valdivian Temperate Rainforest in Chile´s Southern Andes Mountains, and consists of nearly 9,000 hectares of alerce forests.

Douglas Tompkins Pumalín National Park

Ancestral lands of the Chono tribe, Pumalín National Park is located south of Puerto Montt. It has a temperate rain forest climate and is open year round.

Corcovado National Park

Corcovado is national park inhabited by locals and created thanks to a donation of more than 84,000 hectares by Tompkins’ Conservation Fund. It possesses large extensions of land yet to be explored.

Melimoyu National Park

This national park is not accessible by land, but can be reached by boat from different places and offers the opportunity to sight blue whales along the way that live in abundance along the coasts of Melimoyu.

Queulat National Park

Queulat National Park is located 165 kilometers from Coyhaique and is open year round. Visitors are attracted by its ever green forests, Patagonian Andes, fjords, rivers, and its famous Queulat Hanging Glacier that can be seen from the Carretera Austral.

Isla Magdalena National Park

Isla Magdalena is one of the largest islands south of Chiloé and is only accessible by boat. It’s the perfect refuge for diverse marine species such as penguins and sea lions.

Laguna San Rafael National Park

The landscape of San Rafael includes fjords, canals, islands and glaciers. It’s the principal port of entry to the Northern Snow Field and the second largest national park in Chile. It’s operational all year.

Cerro Castillo National Park

Cerro Castillo has some of the most outstanding trekking trails in Chile. Here it’s possible to catch a glimpse of the elusive huemul, a species of South Andean deer, as they attempt to hide themselves in the Lenga forests. This park is not to be missed as one travels along the Roads of southern Chile. Open year round.

Patagonia National Park

Open year round, Patagonia National Park houses one of the highest levels of biodiversity in the Aysen region. Here the Patagonian steepe can be observed in all its splendor, especially in the fall when the trees turn bright red contrasting with the intense blue of lakes like Cochrane and Jeinimeni.

Bernardo O´Higgins National Park

Bernardo O’Higgins National Park is the largest in Chile and one of the largest in the world. The 49 glaciers in the Southern Ice Field is the third largest continental ice mass on the planet. Open from October through April.

Kawésqar National Park

Kawésqar is the second largest park in Chile and one of the largest in the world. Its territory is a virgin ecosystem that includes the mountain range, glaciers, wet lands, fjords and a large part of the archipelagos of the Provinces of Magallanes and Última Esperanza. Open from October through April.

Torres del Paine National Park

This is one of the most visited parks in Chile. It’s very attractive for those who enjoy trekking and climbing. The “O” and “W” circuits offer landscapes made up of glaciers, forests and grasslands.

Pali-Aike National Park

This is the ancestral land of the Tehuelche tribe. The park is located 196 kilometers from Punta Arenas. It has outstanding rock formations, caves, volcanic cones and craters. It’s a wondrous free range for guanacos, foxes and ñandú birds (rheas).

Alberto de Agostini National Park

This is the third largest park in Chile and is located 800 nautical miles south of Punta Arenas in the area of Navarino. It was declared a Biosphere Reserve by Unesco since it is considered to be one of the most pristine regions of the world. Open year round.

Yendegaia National Park

This land was once home to the Selknam and Yámana tribes and now this Tierra del Fuego Park is a Biosphere Reserve. It has not been intervened with installations of any kind, but one can walk the trails of the private Karukinka park next to Yendegaia, or cross the Strait of Magellan from Tres Puentes to Porvenir or by Punta Delgada to Cerro Sombrero.

Cabo de Hornos National Park

This is the only place in the world where the waters of the Pacific and Atlantic meet. Cabo de Hornos (Cape Horn) is a famous geographic place with hundreds of stories of brave sailors who challenged its waters and wild currents. It was declared a Biosphere Reserve by Unesco and has a wild area that includes land and marine ecosystems. Open from October through April.

Without a doubt, Tompkins´ dream has come true. The Route of Patagonian Parks is a new travel destination that will conquer the hearts of world travellers with its pristine landscapes, fauna, glaciers and grass lands. It offers an opportunity for development and of pride for the communities of southern Chile, their landscapes, culture and history.

Experience local life by visiting several markets; take time for coffee and conversation with the locals. Enjoy a delicious meal and maybe a boat ride to Tenglo Island, and stop by the crafts market.