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EPIC AYSÉN: PATAGONIA AUSTRAL ROAD

USD$ 3,770 / 14 days

Summary

Day 1: Santiago de Chile – Leisure Day.
Day 2: Santiago to Hornopiren – Leisure Day.
Day 3: Hornopiren to Caleta Gonzalo – Pumalin National Park Hike.
Day 4: Caleta Gonzalo to Futaleufu – Pumalin National Park Hike.
Day 5: Futaleufu to Puyuhuapi – Rafting or hike in Futaleufu.
Day 6: Puyuhuapi – Queulat National Park Hike.
Day 7: Puyuhuapi to Coyhaique – Leisure Day.
Day 8: Coyhaique to General Carrera Lake – Leisure Day.
Day 9: General Carrera Lake – Ice Hike on the Exploradores Glacier.
Day 10: General Carrera Lake to Cochrane – Kayak to Marble Caves.
Day 11: Cochrane – Patagonia National Park Hike: Chacabuco Valley.
Day 12: Cochrane to Caleta Tortel – Walkways or boat ride in Caleta Tortel.
Day 13: Caleta Tortel to Baker River – Leisure Day.
Day 14: Baker River to Santiago de Chile – Leisure Day.

Overview

From evergreen, abundant temperate forests, over impressive glaciers and waters colored of all shades of blue, to the vast and dry Patagonian steppe – all this will you be able to discover on this 14-day Epic Aysen Trip. Now the Patagonian steppe welcomes you with its dry vastness and incredible views of geological rock formations, while the rivers and lakes keep their deep blue and turquoise colors. Stay at the shores of General Carrera Lake while you discover the surroundings of the area, including the iconic marble caves, incredible glaciers and huge waterfalls. Follow the road to Cochrane to visit the recently opened Patagonia National Park, which shows you the Patagonian steppe in all its splendor with wide valleys and incredible wildlife.


Itinerary Details

DAY 1
SANTIAGO DE CHILE

Bienvenidos a Chile! Welcome to Chile! A representative from our company will greet you at the Santiago International Airport to welcome you upon arrival. During the drive to your hotel, our representative will tell you more about your upcoming itinerary, as well as answer any questions you may have.

During the afternoon, you’ll have free time to explore the city, relax, and have dinner before returning to your hotel for the night. The adventure starts tomorrow!

Meals: None.

Overnight: Eco Boutique Bidasoa Hotel.

DAY 2
SANTIAGO DE CHILE – PUERTO MONTT – HORNOPIREN

At a pre-arranged time, we’ll pick you up from your hotel in Santiago to take you to the airport for your flight to Puerto Montt. Once you arrive, your rental car will be waiting for you for your overland adventure on the Carretera Austral. Drive in direction south from Puerto Montt on the beginning of this panoramic Southern Highway. When reaching the town of Caleta La Arena take a short ferry ride to cross the Reloncavi fjord and continue then the road to Hornopiren, a town located at the foot of an impressive volcano of the same name, where you will spend this night.

Meals: Breakfast.

Overnight: Hostería Catalina.

DAY 3
HORNOPIREN – CALETA GONZALO

Today you will travel on a ferry through the Patagonian fjords in the middle of untouched native forests and snow-capped peaks in the background. Enjoy the beautiful views of the natural surroundings from the comfortable warmth inside the ferry or feel the fresh air on deck on this journey to Caleta Gonzalo. Depending on the schedule of the ferry you will then have time to explore the hiking trails of Pumalin National Park Douglas Tompkins. This park is part of one of the most important conservation projects worldwide by Doug and Kris Tompkins and their foundation. Our recommendations for this day are the “Los Alerces” or “Cascadas Escondidas” hiking trails. Both are rather short hikes along woody trails through the abundant vegetation of the temperate rainforest, including the ancient Alerce trees, and are just a short drive from Caleta Gonzalo away, where you will spend the night today.

Meals: Breakfast.

Overnight: Cabañas Caleta Gonzalo.

DAY 4
CALETA GONZALO - FUTALEUFU

You can use this morning to explore more of the Pumalin National Park Douglas Tompkins. A great excursion is to hike up the Chaiten Volcano which erupted in 2008 destroying big parts of Chaiten town and coating with ash large parts of Chile and Argentina. The remains of this eruption are visible until today on the surroundings of the volcano. It’s an about 2,5 hours hike (out and back) to the top of the volcano, where you will be able to witness the ashy ground, burned down trees and observe the large crater.

Meals: Breakfast.

Overnight: El Barranco Lodge.

DAY 5
FUTALEUFU - PUYUHUAPI

Enjoy this morning in one of the top white water destinations in the world on your own to explore the activities there. We recommend you to do rafting or hiking. Due to its great water volume, the Futaleufu River is a renowned place to do any white water activity, such as rafting and experience its varied range of rapids of turquoise color in the middle of dense green forests and rocky mountains. If water adventures are not what you’re looking for, you can opt for one of the many hiking trails and discover this way the natural beauty of Futaleufu. Our suggestion is the hike to Piedra del Aguila which leads you to a huge rock in the form of an eagle from where you will get panoramic views and have the possibility to spot condors or other birds of prey.

In the afternoon head to your next destination – Puyuhuapi – where you will spend the next two nights.

Meals: Breakfast.

Overnight: El Pangue Lodge.

DAY 6
PUYUHUAPI

Today, you have the whole day to get to know the nearby Queulat National Park, which is famous for its emblematic hanging glacier or “ventisquero colgante”. One of the best-known trails there is certainly the one that leads to the viewpoint of the hanging glacier, ascending over the glacier’s moraine and offering views of the lagoon from above. Apart from that we recommend you to explore the “Laguna Tempanos” trail which allows you to cross the Ventisquero River over the iconic woody foot bridge and reach the lagoon beneath the hanging glacier.  By hiking along those trails you will enjoy the evergreen and Andean Patagonian forest, waterfalls and abundant rivers of the national park.

Meals: Breakfast.

Overnight: El Pangue Lodge.

DAY 7
PUYUHUAPI - COYHAIQUE

Travel today further down south to the capital of the remote Aysen Region – Coyhaique. This relatively young city is located next to rivers and rocky hills. If time allows, visit the nearby Simpson River National Reserve with its forests, Cascada de la Virgen waterfall and home to native fauna, before you continue to the city. You can stroll around the center and the craft market of the main square and enjoy a traditional dinner in one of the many local restaurants.

Meals: Breakfast.

Overnight: Nómades Boutique Hotel.

DAY 8
COYHAIQUE – GENERAL CARRERA LAKE

Our journey to the southern part of the Carretera Austral begins. Drive from Coyhaique to the General Carrera Lake. First, you will witness the agricultural activities of the rural areas of this region and by travelling further south, you will then be surprised by the beautiful views of the impressive Cerro Castillo mountain, the curvy Cuesta del Diablo and the turquoise colors of the Ibañez and El Manso River Confluence. Before reaching Puerto Rio Tranquilo you will get the first glimpse of the deep blue General Carrera Lake. Continue driving along the lake, which is the second largest of South America, and enjoy its scenic views with snow-capped mountains in the background. When you reach the ecolodge where you will spend the following nights you will have time to relax and to discover some of the short trails surrounding the lodge.

Meals: Breakfast, Dinner.

Overnight: Mallín Colorado Ecolodge.

DAY 9
GENERAL CARRERA LAKE

Glaciers are one of the most astonishing feats of nature, and today, you’ll get up close and personal with one on a hike that will actually take you on top of the glacier itself. The excursion today will visit the Exploradores Glacier, a colossal river of ice found inside Laguna San Rafael National Park. To reach the glacier, which is about 32 miles west of Puerto Rio Tranquilo, we’ll start by driving through the beautiful Exploradores Valley.

Near the base of the glacier, we’ll stop at a refugio cabin to get outfitted in all the technical equipment we’ll need for the glacier hike and to hear the safety and instructional talk from the glacier guides. We’ll start heading toward the glacier through an evergreen forest where you can observe local flora and fauna, gradually ascending upwards along the rocky front moraine of the glacier. At the top of the moraine, there’s a stunning panoramic viewpoint of the entire glacier in all its majesty, as well as Bayo Lake and Monte San Valentin, the highest mountain in Patagonia. We’ll then descend the other side of the moraine toward the glacier; the first ice we’ll be walking on will be covered in stones and dirt, as evidence of the front wall of the glacier churning up the earth below it as it moves forward.

We’ll continue on for another hour and a half to two hours to reach the pristine, clean ice further up the glacier, where we’ll pause for a break and refreshment. Here, we’ll spend a fair amount of time using the specialized glacier gear to explore the surroundings: walking across the icy flat plains, going down into little ice valleys where there are meltwater streams and pools, marveling at the deep blue colors of the glacial ice, and even going into ice caves. The guides will be on-hand the entire time to ensure you only walk in safe areas and to answer any questions about the glacier. We’ll then head back down the glacier to the cabin; the entire ice walk will take around six to six and a half hours.

After returning the glacier gear, we’ll drive back to Puerto Rio Tranquilo for a night of well-deserved rest.

Meals: Breakfast, Box Lunch and Dinner.

Overnight: Mallín Colorado Ecolodge.

DAY 10
GENERAL CARRERA LAKE - COCHRANE

This morning you will be able to do an excursion to the famous Marble Caves of General Carrera Lake, which are truly a once-in-a-lifetime sight: over time, the mineral-rich waters of the lake have eroded the rocks and islets along the shore to form caverns, with stone walls covered in multicolored swirls of blue, turquoise, azure, and navy.

The best way to appreciate the caves is by kayak. The kayaking trip will start from Bahia Mansa, located roughly two and a half miles from the town of Puerto Río Tranquilo. You’ll set out on kayaks from the bay, kayaking along the shore until we reach the Marble Caves, where you’ll kayak through to get the best views.

After that you continue your road trip down south to Cochrane. On the way you can stop by at the confluence of the Baker and Neff Rivers and observe how the waters of the two differently-colored rivers merge together.

Meals: Breakfast.

Overnight: Hotel Último Paraíso.

DAY 11
COCHRANE

Today you’ll embark on another self-guided adventure to discover the beautiful grasslands, hills, forests, and marshes of the Chacabuco Valley, the heart of Patagonia National Park. Up until a few decades ago, this area was used by ranchers as grazing fields for livestock, which decimated native plants and forced away wildlife, completely altering the ecosystem. Luckily, Doug and Kris Tompkins of the Tompkins Foundation bought the land for conservation purposes, intending to restore it to its original splendor. The ecosystem restoration project was a runaway success, with flora and fauna returning in abundance and thriving. When the Tompkins donated this and other lands to the Chilean government as part of a million-acre land gift, their Patagonia Park was merged with the preexisting Jeinimeni and Tamango National Reserves to create the new Patagonia National Park.

Today, to learn more about this historic land gift and the geology and history of the valley, we recommend you start with a visit to the park’s visitor center and museum. Afterward, you can avail yourself of one of the many trails in this sector; one of the best is the Lago Chico trail which offers great views of Lake Cochrane and Mount San Lorenzo. After your hike, you’ll drive about a hour further on to the town of Cochrane, where you’ll be staying for the next two nights.

Meals: Breakfast.

Overnight: Hotel Último Paraíso.

DAY 12
COCHRANE – CALETA TORTEL

Today, drive down to the southernmost point of this trip – to Caleta Tortel. This beautiful and quaint town, full of magical stories of hard-working settlers and explorers, lies at the delta of the Baker River. 

What makes this town unique, is its picturesque architectural style, a legacy of the immigrants and first Chileans who came to inhabit this territory, especially, from the island of Chiloé. This is reflected in its ancient mansions made from cypress trees, adorned with old wooden tiles.

The wooden walkways and stairs are the streets of the village, and they cover over 7,5 kilometers. Due to the rugged geography, the sector is divided into a first area of archipelagos with countless islands, channels, and estuaries; and a second area of steep mountain ranges topped with glaciers, and cut through by narrow valleys. This has forced the building of a series of walkways and footbridges in order to move around without problems. The walkways are made from native Guaitecas Cypress wood, which abounds in the area.

Three kilometers away from Caleta Tortel you may visit La Isla de los Muertos (The Island of the Dead,) where there are thirty-three cypress crosses that remain unidentified, which were found in 1950 amongst the thick vegetation. The crosses date back to the beginning of the XX century.

This island has been declared a National Historic Monument in 2001 and is a must-see in Caleta Tortel. Walk along a historical and interpretation circuit surrounded by abundant native flora to explore this mysterious place.

Meals: Breakfast.

Overnight: Entre Hielos Lodge.

DAY 13
CALETA TORTEL – BAKER RIVER

We will slowly make our way back north and head today to a comfortable lodge right next to Baker River. Enjoy the afternoon in the middle of this beautiful river landscape and take your time to explore the natural surroundings, or the nearby town of Puerto Bertrand, or just relax.

Meals: Breakfast.

Overnight: BordeBaker Lodge.

DAY 14
BAKER RIVER – BALMACEDA – SANTIAGO DE CHILE

This is your last day on the Carretera Austral! You can drive the same way back north to the Balmaceda Airport where you can drop off your rental car and board your flight to Santiago. From there your international flight will bring you back home.

Meals: Breakfast.

End of EcoChile Services.


2020 – 2021  SEASON RATES

Land Portion Pricing: Group of 4 People

Price per person >> USD 2,860 (All Seasons)

* Please note that international and domestic flights are not included in this price.


Land Portion Pricing: Group of 2 people

Price per person
>> USD 3,770 (High Season)
>> USD 3,650 (Shoulder Season)

* Please note that international and domestic flights are not included in this price.


Why is this trip sustainable?
  • The food provided is locally prepared with regional products.
  • You will travel Plastic-Free throughout your trip! We use reusable or glass bottles, and recyclable containers.
  • Our top recommended hotels include sustainability policies as part of their mission and operations.
  • We work in collaboration with local suppliers and communities in each location.
  • We make sure our tour groups are small, both to improve the experience for you and to reduce the impact on the places we visit.
  • We respect and value the lifestyles, beliefs, and traditions of the local communities we visit.

Our Health and Safety Promise

In the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic, we understand that travelers, while eager to get back out there and explore the world, also want to be careful and only travel where and when it’s safe to do so. Just as you take your health and safety seriously, as well as the health and safety of the overall group and the communities we visit, so do we. That’s why, in compliance with national and international health and safety regulations and recommendations, we’ve optimized our operations and tour itineraries to provide you with the safest itinerary possible in a post-pandemic world.

This tour was specifically designed with social distancing in mind, avoiding overly crowded places without sacrificing the experience of discovering the destination. We only partner with hotels and tour operators that are similarly committed to putting their clients’ health first, with the use of cleaning and sanitizing services and only offering tours and excursions when it’s fully safe to do so. All this and more are just some of the ways we’re innovating travel itineraries for the healthier future.

EPIC AYSÉN: PATAGONIA AUSTRAL ROAD

Duration: 14 days

Price: USD$ 3,770 / person

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