viewpoint above Villa O’Higgins, Chile

trip report by BestHike editor Rick McCharles

If you head south to the end of the Carretera Austral … then take a ferry … you’ll eventually get to Villa O’Higgins.

The last bit of gravel road was completed in 2000.

The new tourist town is surrounded by mountains and lakes. The only way to go further south is by ferry and on foot.

To get those views climb steeply up (about 45 minutes) through a series of viewpoints.

At the top is a wind battered Chilean flag.

 

Cerro Vigia Circuit, Caleta Tortel, Chile

trip report by BestHike editor Rick McCharles

Tourists visiting weird, wonderful and remote Caleta Tortel all climb up to the viewpoint above town. And back down the same way.

It’s great. But the best hike is to do the entire circuit. I used the Maps.me app for navigation. Google Maps offline doesn’t have it.

Parts of the route are muddy. Be warned.

Weather was surprisingly good. But since this is Patagonia, I carried my rain gear.

You walk a LOT of boardwalk, some of it slippery when wet.

The trail trail is well signed.

There’s a steep sidetrip down to the Baker River too, if you are keen.

The town signage indicates it could take 2 hours for the circuit. I’d estimate a minimum of 3 hours. It might take four.

Recommended.

hiking the NEW Patagonia National Park

Patagonia National Park was announced January 2018 as part of the fantastic new Route of Parks (Ruta de los Parques) chain of 17 national parks in Chile.

Three conservation areas were combined to create it. Cows and other grazing animals removed. Native wildlife such as guanacos, ñandús, pumas, Andean condors, and huemuls reintroduced.

Patagonia National Park will soon be the best hiking destination on the Carretera Austral after nearby Cerro Castillo. You should hike both on the same trip.

There are already a number of high quality day hikes out of 3 established campgrounds in Patagonia National Park including:

  • La Confluencia 3 km (2 miles)
  • La Vega Trail 7 km (4.5 miles)
  • Lago Chico Loop 12 km (7.5 miles)
  • Avilés Loop Trail 16 km (10 miles)
  • Lagunas Altas Trail 23 km (14 miles) climbing Mt. Tamanguito
  • Furioso Trail 23 km (14 miles)

I’m MORE excited about future long hikes traversing the park.

The Park has one overnight hike called the Aviles to Jeinimeni trail 50 km (31 miles) one way.

As of February 2019 there is no hiker shuttle to and from the trailheads. You have to organize that on your own. ☹️  It’s a hassle.

Even better is the route put together by (Adventure) Alan Dixon and Alison Simon they called the Patagonia National Park trek.

  • October 1 through April. January and February are high season.
  • 4-6 days

They saw condors, flamingos, armadillos and even had a puma walk through their camp at night.

Their very detailed trip report includes a map set of the trek in geospatial PDF, GPS files, hiking distances & times; detailed, day-by-day route descriptions, camping locations, elevation profiles and more.

Read every word of their trip report.

Cochrane town is a few hours easy access south of Coyhaique. The closest public transport access to the National Park.

Ventisquero Colgante hike, Chile

trip report by BestHike editor Rick McCharles

  • 6.6km return to observation platform
  • rough and muddy trail

Queulat National Park is a very popular destination for tourists. Here’s how the park’s centerpiece, the Queulat Hanging Glacier, looks in perfect weather.

Ventisquero Colgante Falls in summer, ChileVentisquero Colgante Falls in summer , Flickr / CC BY 2.0

There’s a visitor centre explaining the various short hikes.

You start on a long suspension bridge.

I was there on a rainy day. Most days are rainy.

This is dense Valdivian temperate rain forest. Parts of the park receive up to 4,000 mm (157 in) of precipitation annually.

There is some boardwalk, but expect to get muddy. (I wore neoprene booties rather than socks.)

Here’s the viewpoint as I saw it.

On descending I’d definitely recommend adding a short spur trail to Laguna Tempanos.

It’s a different perspective from the lake.

Everyone is happy to visit Quelat. A weird and wonderful microclimate.

I wore neoprene booties instead of socks. Inside my feet were warm, wet and smelly.

Queulat National Park is is 23-kilometers away from pretty Puyuhuapi town, the normal jumping off point for travelers.

related – Ventisquero Colgante: The Hanging Glacier of Queulat

Torres del Paine W trek

Adventure seeking holiday-goers from around the world flock to Chilean Patagonia to complete the Torres del Paine Treks. Amongst the three trekking routes in the Torres del Paine National Park — the W trek, the O trek, and the Q trek, the Torres del Paine W trek is the most sought-after. …

4 – 5 days. The total trek is roughly 60km. …

Free and Paid Campsites, and Refugios, shared accommodation shelters, and Luxury Hotels …

make bookings months in advance …

Torres del Paine W Trek: Popular and Pristine