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JOURNEY TO THE HEART OF NORTHERN PATAGONIA (8D-7N)

Feel like a trailblazer in Aysen Region (Balmaceda Airport)

8 days and 7 nights

Explore Northern Patagonia like a trailblazer from times past. This programme can be the perfect way to discover this stunning zone of Chile. Enjoy daily unforgettable activities immersed in nature and breathe nothing but calmness.

Day 1 – Balmaceda Airport / Puerto Tranquilo – General Carrera Lake

Arrive at Balmaceda Airport. Reception and start the journey going south on the Carretera Austral for 193km. (110 miles) to Puerto Tranquilo town, on the shores of General Carrera Lake.

During the journey, you will see natural features such as Chiguay Lake, the “Piedra del Conde” (The Rock of the Count) and other rocky formations. The road continues by Portezuelo Ibañez (rocky pass), reaching the “Cuesta del Diablo” (Devil’s Hill), with its steep slopes from where you get magnificent panoramic views of the Ibañez River valley and the peaks that surround it.

The route continues to Cerro Castillo village, a typical Patagonian town, which faces the enormous mountainous massif of the same name. The paved road ends. The drive continues south to pass Murta River as the first village after a long stretch, and after 30 minutes reach Puerto Rio Tranquilo, where you have the first closest contact with the wonderful General Carrera Lake.

Overnight at El Puesto Hostel or similar.

 

Day 2 – San Rafael Lagoon & Glacier Excursion

Depart from Puerto Tranquilo at 07:00 am to head 77km (48 miles) westward up to Explorers Bay. Upon arrival around 09:30 am, the crew that will accompany you through this unforgettable experience will receive you.

Before setting sail, the guide will brief you on security and give a general description of the trip. Here starts soft navigation through the river delta, scenery with a particular beauty in which you will enjoy breakfast. In approximately 2.30 hours of navigation, you’ll be at “Laguna San Rafael National Park” where you are going to contemplate the “San Rafael” Glacier and the magnificent natural scenery that surrounds it.

The box lunch will be served in front of the blue ice wall where you will be able to drink the famous whisky with millenary ice. Afterwards, you will start the return navigation to Explorers Bay, arriving at 05:00 pm approx., to connect with the vehicle and drive up to Puerto Tranquilo. Estimated time of arrival 8:00 pm.

Overnight at El Puesto Hostel or similar.

 

Day 3 – Marble Chapels – Baker and Nef Rivers Confluence – Puerto Bertrand

At 9 am, a brief transfer to the shores of Lake General Carrera, the second largest in South America, is “Marble Chapels” Nature Sanctuary National Monument. It is a place of singular scenic beauty, where the waves of the lake have eroded and polished limestone, forming caves of great appeal.

Navigate the Lake to the Nature Sanctuary and enjoy these rock formations unique in their style in the world.
After the navigation, transfer to the Baker and Nef Rivers Confluence (79 km south 1.45hr app), to admire this natural phenomenon. After this, we will continue to Puerto Bertrand.

Overnight at Green Baker Lodge or similar.

 

Day 4 – Patagonia National Park (Tamango area) – Cochrane – Caleta Tortel

In the morning, transfer to Cochrane area (48 km south, 1 hour approx), a small town that serves to re-stock. Continue 5km northbound up to Patagonia National Park Tamango area for a boat trip that lasts 40 minutes and a brief hike through the park. If lucky, you could see huemuls, the Chilean national deer.

Then, visit Cochrane, where you will be able to have lunch (not included). After lunch, we will continue towards Caleta Tortel (128 km south, after Cochrane). This place has been declared as a Traditional Site because of its particular architecture and lifestyle. Here, streets are replaced by walkways made out of Cypress of Guaitecas wood.

They criss-cross the whole cove, allowing the biodiversity of the zone to be preserved. Together with the cold, rainy climate, untamed nature and hard lifestyle, the day a day work has built the character and identity of the people. The hospitality and warmth of the inhabitants make it an unforgettable destination – walking its unique traditional gangways.

Overnight at Entre Hielos Lodge.

 

Day 5 – Caleta Tortel – Los Muertos Island – Caleta Tortel

Los Muertos Island, declared a National Monument in 2001 and listed as a historical and interpretation circuit of the flora of the Aysen region, is in the delta of the Baker River, between Patagonian fjords and channels, near the town of Caleta Tortel. It is a mysterious place and full of energy, being a must-see in this town. Navigation (2:30 hours approx.) sets sail from Caleta Tortel, taking around 40 minutes to Isla de Los Muertos.

This Island is the reflection of a historical process lived in the first years of the colonization, exploitation, and exploration of the Aysen region, at its southern end. Covered with native vegetation and immersed in the Patagonian fjords, we will relive the history of the Pisagua tragedy at the hands of the explorer Hans Steffens in 1898, while marveling with the local flora and fauna. Inside the island, there are marked trails and wooden walkways.

On its surface of approximately 248 m2, there are 33 wooden crosses, which would be vestiges of a series of individual tombs dating from 1906. The niches would correspond to the bodies of some 120 workers from the Baker Exploitation Company. Although there is no official version of the reason for the deaths, there are various theories that you can learn about in this destination.

Free afternoon to enjoy Caleta Tortel.

Overnight at Entre Hielos Lodge.

 

Day 6 – Caleta Tortel – Puerto Guadal

Caleta Tortel to Puerto Guadal (197 km north, 4 hours aprox). Early departure through the same route, we arrive in Caleta Tortel.

Visit Patagonia National Park in the Chacabuco area (145 km north, 3 hours approx). This park is a donation by “Tompkins Conservation” to the State of Chile. You will be able to enjoy any of the trekking options. Once completed the visit, we will continue to Puerto Guadal. Box lunch on route.

Overnight at Terra Luna Lodge or similar.

 

Day 7 – Puerto Guadal – Coyhaique

Early departure from Puerto Guadal (08:30hr aprox) to Coyhaique. Only 35 minutes before arrving to the regional capital Coyhaique, we will visit the Fundo Guacho Patagón (4 to 5 hours activity), a private farm to live a unique experience, rescuing the customs and traditions of the rural people, called “Gaucho”.

Visitors will participate in the various activities typical of the countryside in this part of Patagonia. Upon arrival, they will be explained about the history of the place, along with a tasty “tente en pie” with recipes and local products. You will be shown and explained about the Gaucho accessories, such as the beret, the neck scarf, the wine boot etc. Later they will go to the corrals to appreciate the sheep shearing (depending on the season), they will learn about the work of corrals, among others. As a finishing touch, the visitor participates in the creation of the great monument to Patagonia, leaving its name stamped. This great work of art was created to raise awareness of the importance of caring for our planet and of contributing our bit, in reforestation with native trees. Finally, a well-deserved barbecue “asado al palo” is enjoyed, along with the people of the farm and possibly other visitors.

Return to Coyhaique. Overnight at El Reloj Hotel or similar.

 

Day 8 – Balmaceda Airport

Breakfast. At the agreed time, transfer to the airport to take your flight to your next destination – 55km/34 miles – 50 minutes approximately.

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