Waking up to (arguably) the best view in Patagonia
Septiembre 29, 2023
Mallín Colorado is one of the most magnificent yet humble places you can find. Perched on a hillside overlooking the General Carrera Lake as it glimmers in the sunlight, this is a place where any traveler of the Carretera Austral (Southern Highway) can not only find refuge, but also discover the wonders of the region of Aysén, Chile.
That’s just how it started. The Santiago-based Christensen family bought a field some 27 years ago to build a cabin for their summer vacations. In those days, the road was a dirt track and it was an 8-hour drive from Coyhaique to Puerto Río Tranquilo with no rest stops in between. When travelers saw the cabin of Mallín Colorado, they would stop and ask if there were any rooms available. Inspired to help these stranded travelers, the family soon began building more cabins for passersby.
These days, the journey from Coyhaique is closer to 4 hours and travelers tend to book their stay at the lodge in advance. But the friendly, welcoming charm of the residence has never changed. The family of seven siblings continue to manage the lodge, each having their own touch. One brother designed and made the marvelous lamps and lights, that bring the outdoors in by upcycling driftwood. A sister makes small traditional tapestries from sheep’s wool to decorate the cabin’s walls. This is a place that’s as full of character as it is quality, with arguably the best beds on the Carretera Austral!
The lodge lies between the towns of Puerto Rio Tranquilo and the Patagonia National Park making it a wonderful base to explore northern Patagonia. From here, you can head north to visit the beautiful marble caves that showcase nature’s perfect beauty or venture to the Exploradores Glacier to trek across ice that glows a spectacular shade of blue. Or you can go south to the powerful confluence of the rivers Baker and Chacabuco or visit the village of Puerto Bertrand for an adrenaline-packed white-water rafting experience.
But the charm of Mallín Colorado lies much closer to the cabins. Each is carefully designed to make the magnificent view of the General Carrera Lake its centerpiece. Whether you’re on the terrace, on the sofa, or waking up in your bed in the morning, you can admire in awe the landscape of blue waters, green hills, and the white caps of the mountains. Any guest here could stay in their room an entire day just to enjoy the view.
The view and being surrounded by beautiful nature, it’s no surprise then that Mallín prioritizes sustainable practices to protect their environment. From their organic kitchen garden – fertilized by their own compost – to their reforestation efforts and reduced laundry cycles, here you can contribute to the preservation of nature as much as you enjoy it.
You may be miles from any town, but there’s no need to get in a car to explore if you do want to get out. The name Mallín Colorado roughly translates to ‘red meadow’ – a homage to the beautiful nature that surrounds the lodge. Mallín Colorado offers three paths that start right on the doorstep of your cabin and that will offer you some of the most unique trails in Patagonia. You can choose to walk the short- to medium-length routes or join an outing on one of Mallín’s horses through the Patagonian landscapes.
Two routes head up the mountain. The longer of the two is a four-hour round trip that immerses you in the native forests of the region. You’ll emerge to take in a panoramic view of the Contreras mountains and then Lakes Bertrand and Plomo. The shorter mountain walk is just 30 minutes, making it pleasant for an easy afternoon stroll. It takes you through the forest above the cabins.
The final walk offers one of the best views of Patagonia from the shores of General Carrera Lake. Crossing the Carretera Austral and walking through a forest of immense coigue trees, you emerge on the western edge of the lake. From here, the route forks allowing you to walk parallel to the beach and admire the horizon, or to drop down to dip your toes in the cold waters of the second biggest lake in Latin America.
After a morning hike, you can return to the lodge’s cosy and welcoming ‘club house’ for a hearty meal. Enjoy a lunch that carefully fuses local flavors and ingredients with international favorites and that will warm your soul. Breakfast and dinner are just as delicious, including homemade bread and jams, mouthwatering dishes, and divine desserts. Those lucky enough to try a traditional ‘asado’ (barbeque) like a true Patagonian are in a real treat for the senses.
There are few places in the world like this – where you’re truly surrounded by silence, a peaceful solitude, and a true night sky. If you’re looking for a unique Patagonian adventure, to switch off, or to reconnect with nature, it doesn’t get much better than this.