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Pumalin National Park - Drive & Trek

7 day self drive trip along the northern Carretera Austral - Patagonia

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TRIP HIGHLIGHTS

  • The ultimate South America road trip: Drive on a 4WD the Carretera Austral, surrounded by hanging glaciers, lush green forests and breathtaking mountain scenery
  • Douglas Tompkins Pumalín National Park
  • Hike through dense fairy tale rainforests with millennial alerce trees, huge ferns and wildly overgrown tree trunks

Insider Tip

  • Food & Culture: Meet locals and be inspired by typical Patagonian food like empanada, pastel de choclo, cazuela & lamb BBQ
Duration

7 days from / to Puerto Montt

Activity
  • self-drive tour
  • trekking adventure
Lodging
  • 6 nights hotel / guesthouse
Meals
  • 6 x breakfast 
Price

from 1.190 USD

TRIP DESCRIPTION

Aysén is a paradise for outdoor adventurers, because the offbeat landscapes of Northern Patagonia offer many possibilities for travelers:

On the northern Carretera Austral, a true hiker´s paradise awaits. After crossing the Comau Fjord from Hornopirén by ferry, you reach a huge natural treasure called Pumalin National Park, created by deceased North Face founder Douglas Tompkins. He put some of South America´s most beautiful areas of pristine rainforest under protection and constructed an excellent visitor infrastructure. The result is one of Chile´s most rewarding – and yet rather unknown – national parks with an abundance of well-developed hiking trails of all difficulty levels. They take you to thundering waterfalls, little known glaciers, lakes and volcanoes. Hike through dense fairy tale rainforests with millennial alerce trees, huge ferns and wildly overgrown tree trunks.

ACTIVITY LEVEL

Activity level 2 – Moderate – Suitable for people who are reasonably fit and hike at least once a month. Participants should be able to walk with their daypack (15-20 lbs) 4-8 hours a day with some strenuous ascents and descents. The equipment for your belongings must be carried by you throughout the duration of the trip day (rain gear, fleece or light down jacket, trekking poles, gloves, hat, camera, lunch and water for the day, and also gear for good weather conditions).

ITINERARY

Day 1-2: Puerto Montt – Puerto Varas – Hornopirén

Day 1: Puerto Montt – Puerto Varas (30 min – 25 km/15 mi)

Your journey starts at Puerto Montt Airport in Chile´s Lake District. Pick up your rental car at the airport counter and drive to nearby Puerto Varas, situated on the shores of Llanquihue Lake. Spend the rest of the day walking along the beautiful coastal promenade and relax in one of the local cafés while enjoying the view of the area's snow-covered volcanoes. Overnight in Puerto Varas. (-/-/-)

Day 2: Puerto Varas - Hornopirén (4-5 h drive – 225 km/140 mi)

A beautiful ride takes you along Llanquihue Lake and the Pacific fjord Reloncaví today. Have lunch at the scenic open-air hot springs in Puelo before continuing to the small town of Hornopirén. The nearby national park of the same name offers some interesting hikes as well. Overnight in Hornopirén. (B/-/-)

Day 3-4: Hornopirén – Caleta Gonzalo – Ascent to Chaitén Volcano

Day 3: Hornopirén – Caleta Gonzalo (4.5 h ferry ride)

Today, two different ferries take you across fjords that carve their way deep into the Andes Mountains. The longest of them is Comau Fjord, bordered by densely forested mountain chains. You reach a tiny place called Caleta Gonzalo - the gateway to Pumalin National Park. Spend the afternoon on one of the shorter hiking trails nearby. Overnight in cabin in Caleta Gonzalo. (B/-/-)

Day 4: Millennial Alerce Trees & Ascent to Chaitén Volcano (1 h drive – 56 km/35 mi)

Today you have the option to choose among several trails. We recommend a warm-up loop to 3000-year-old native Alerce trees before ascending Chaitén Volcano, whose unexpected eruption in 2008 caused enormous damage. Even though the traces of destruction are still evident, native pioneer plants conquer back the soil, among them fuchsia bushes loved by native hummingbirds. Afterwards continue driving to the town of Chaitén. Overnight in Chaitén. (B/-/-)

Day 5-7: Michinmahuida Glacier – Pumalin Park – Lenca – Puerto Montt

Day 5: Michinmahuida Glacier

From Chaitén, you have easy access to the park´s southeastern sector. Spend the day on a demanding hike to one of the glaciers of Michimahuida Volcano, or learn about the native flora and fauna on an interpretative trail. It is also possible to visit the scenic Yelcho Lake. Overnight in Chaitén.  (B/-/-)

Day 6: Pumalin National Park - Lenca (approx. 4 h drive (145 km/90 mi) + 5 h ferry)

Depending on the ferry departure, you might spend the morning on a last hike before leaving this natural paradise. Relax on the ferry that takes you back to Hornopirén. From here continue driving north until reaching the small town of Lenca, where you spend the night. Overnight in cabin in Lenca. (B/-/-)

Day 7: Lenca – Puerto Montt Airport

Drive back to Puerto Montt along Reloncaví Bay. Drop off your rental car at the airport before continuing your journey through Chile or return home with a connecting flight via Santiago. (B/-/-)

Recommendation: Rather than returning to Puerto Montt, there is the option to continue your journey on the Carretera Austral south all the way to Balmaceda Airport, where you can drop off your car and take a flight to another region of Chile. Rates are on request.

Overview of trails:

Trails

Duration

Distance

Difficulty

Cascadas

3 h return

5.6 km / 3.5 mi

low-medium

Laguna Tronador

4-5 h return

4.8 km / 3 mi

medium-high

Los Alerces

40 min loop

0.7 km / 0.4 mi

low

Volcán Chaitén

3 h return

4.4 km / 2.7 mi

medium-high (600 m or 2.000 ft height diff.)

Cascadas Escondidas

2-3 h return

1.8 km / 1.1 mi

low-medium

Lago Negro

30 min return

1.6 km / 1 mi

low

Volcán Michimahuida

8-10 h return

24 km / 15 mi

medium-high (640 m or 2.100 ft height diff.)

Interpretive Trail

1 h loop

3 km / 1.8 mi

low

Ranita de Darwin

1.5 h loop

2.5 km / 1.5 mi

low

El Mirador

1 h return

2.2 km / 1.3 mi

low-medium

El Ventisquero

6-7 h return

20 km / 12.4 mi

low-medium

WHAT’S INCLUDED

  • Accommodation: 6 nights in the mentioned 2-3-star-accommodation, of which 2 in cabins
  • Meals: 6 x breakfast
  • 7 days rental car (SUV 4x4) from/to Balmaceda Airport including CDW with 240 USD deductible (exceptions of coverage apply) and second driver FOC, unlimited mileage
  • Rental car category F2 (JEEP NISSAN XTRAIL AUTOMATIC or similar)
  • Airport service charge
  • Return ferry tickets between Hornopirén and Caleta Gonzalo
  • Programmed GPS
  • 24 h emergency contact 

WHAT’S EXCLUDED

  • Single supplement
  • Meals and beverages not indicated on the itinerary
  • Optional trips
  • Tips/gratuity
  • Local payments
  • International and domestic airfare
  • Travel insurance is not included in this tour. Travel insurance is mandatory and must be purchased prior to the start of the trip.

DEPARTURE DATES & BOOKING

01.12.2022 - 30.04.2023
available
daily from 1 person; on request
from 1.190 USD

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