• Nalca Plant, Northern Patagonia

    Nalca plants

  • Yelcho Glacier

  • Pumalin National Park

  • Rainforest Pumalin and Yelcho Trek

  • Carretera Austral

  • Gaucho Northern Patagonia

  • Rainforest Pumalin and Yelcho Trek

  • Queulat Glacier

Pumalín Park, Yelcho & Quelat Glaciers

8 or 10 days hiking tour Northern Carretera Austral with optional extension

Home / Patagonia Trips / Pumalin Park & Yelcho Trek

TRIP HIGHLIGHTS 

  • Douglas Tompkins Pumalín National Park - a true hiker´s paradise along the Northern Carretera Austral
  • South America´s most beautiful areas of pristine rainforest with millennial alerce trees and thundering waterfalls
  • Easy to moderate day hikes take you along well-developed hiking trails through a fairy tale forest with huge ferns, rhubarb-resembling, native Nalca plants, and wildly overgrown tree trunks
  • Day hike to the crater of the volcano Chaiten that erupted only a few years ago
  • Hike through ancient forest to the little known Yelcho Glacier

Insider Tip

  • Visit the Queulat National Park with its stunning hanging glacier "Ventisquero Colgante" and waterfall & undertake a kayak trip
Duration

8 or 10 days from/to Puerto Varas or to Balmaceda 

Activity
  • Hiking
  • Nature & Adventure
Lodging
  • 7 or 9 nights hotel / guesthouse
Meals
  • 7 or 9 x breakfast 
  • 4 x box lunch
Price

from 2.790 USD

TRIP DESCRIPTION

On the northern Carretera Austral, a true hiker´s paradise has been developing over the last few years. After crossing the fjord Comau from Hornopirén, you reach a tiny place called Caleta Gonzalo - the gateway to a huge natural treasure called Pumalin National Park. Deceased founder of Esprit and North Face, Douglas Tomkins, has put some of South America´s most beautiful areas of pristine rainforest under protection over the last two decades. After hard work and the construction of high-quality infrastructure, he carefully opened it up to visitors.

Easy to moderate day hikes take you along well-developed hiking trails to thundering waterfalls, millennial alerce trees, little known glaciers and even to the crater of a volcano that erupted only a few years ago. In dense rainforests we hike through a fairy tale forest with huge ferns, rhubarb-resembling, native Nalca plants, and wildly overgrown tree trunks.

ACTIVITY LEVEL

Activity level 2 - Moderate - Day tours that will challenge you moderately. Differences in elevation but also in temperature will be the most challenging part. 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 Varas – Volcano Osorno

Day 1: PUERTO VARAS

Your journey starts at Puerto Montt Airport in Chile´s Lake District. Upon arrival, a transfer takes you to the nearby "City of Roses", Puerto Varas, situated on the shores of Llanquihue Lake. The rest of the day is at leisure. There is time to walk along the beautiful coastal promenade and relax at one of the local cafés while enjoying the view of the area's snow-covered volcanoes.

Accomodation: 3*-Hotel in Puerto Varas. (-/-/-)


Day 2: VOLCANO OSORNO

Marvel at the picturesque landscape of the Chilean Lake District on an impressive ride along the shores of Llanquihue Lake. The road leads up the slopes of the Osorno volcano through native Lenga forest, to the starting point of today´s hike. The "El Solitario" trail allows privileged views over volcanic landscapes. We also visit the rapids of Petrohué River, one of the wildest rivers in Chile. Loudly roaring, he rushes through its uneven bed. Take in unforgettable panoramas with Osorno Volcano in the background.

4-5 h easy hike. Accomodation: 3*-Hotel in Puerto Varas. (B/-/-)

Day 3-4: Caleta Gonzalo – Pumalin Park – Crater Volcano Chaitén

Day 3: PUERTO VARAS – PUMALIN PARK

Your journey south to the Carretera Austral begins in the early morning hours today. Three different ferries take you across the fjords that carve their way deep into the Andes Mountains, the longest of them being Comau Fjord, bordered by densely forested mountain chains. After arrival in Caleta Gonzalo in the afternoon, an easy  three-hour hike takes you through the lush rainforest of Pumalin National Park. 

3h easy hike.

Accomodation:  Cabin in Caleta Gonzalo. (B/-/-)

Day 4: MILLENNIAL ALERCE TREES & ASCENT TO CHAITÉN VOLCANO

Today´s first warm-up hike leads to 3000-year-old native Alerce trees – some of the oldest living beings in the world that can only be found in this region. Unfortunately, only few are left today, as they have been deforested radically since colonization, and are officially protected only rather recently.

We continue to Chaitén Volcano, whose unexpected eruption in 2008, after 9000 years of inactivity, caused enormous damage. Today, a hiking trail allows ascending up to the volcano´s crater. The colorful landscape on top appears almost surreal, where a hill of lava and ashes has formed within the crater. The traces of the destruction are still evident, while at the same time pioneer plants are conquering back the soil, among them resilient Nalca plants and the native fuchsia bushes that are loved by hummingbirds. The day ends in the nearby town of Chaitén or on the shores of Yelcho Lake.

5 h moderate hike.

Accomodation: 3*-Hotel in Chaitén or nearby Lake Yelcho. (B/-/-)

Day 5-6: Michimahuida Volcano – Yelcho Glacier

Day 5: DAY AT LEISURE

This day is at leisure. Some options to spend the day are full day hikes to Michimahuida Volcano or the El Amarillo Glacier or a kayak trip.

Accomodation: 3*-Hotel in Chaitén or nearby Lake Yelcho. (B/-/-)

Day 6: YELCHO GLACIER

Today a simple, yet little known hike takes you to Yelcho Glacier (Ventisquero), located near the lake of the same name in the huge Corcovado National Park. After walking through the region´s typical evergreen rainforest, you are rewarded with a breathtaking view of the glacier. 

6 h easy hike.

Accomodation: 3*-Hotel in Chaitén or nearby Lake Yelcho. (B/-/-)

Day 7-8: Puerto Montt or Extension Puyuhuapi & Queulat National Park

Day 7: PUMALIN – PUERTO VARAS

Return to Puerto Varas today. Once again, you have the option to enjoy splendid views from the ferry that takes you along the fjord´s tranquil waters back to Hornopirén. From here we continue all the way to Puerto Varas.

Accomodation: 3*-Hotel in Puerto Varas. (B/-/-)

Day 8: PUERTO MONTT

Today a transfer takes you back to the airport of Puerto Montt. From here you have the option to continue your journey through Chile, or return home with a connecting flight via Santiago. (B/-/-)

Optional extension to Balmaceda:

Day 7: PUMALIN – PUYUHUAPI

Today the journey south on the Carretera Austral through Patagonia. The rustic gravel road penetrates deep into untouched wilderness, along the turquoise-colored Frío River, glacier-covered mountain massifs, dreamy lakes and picturesque waterfalls.

Accomodation: 3*-Hotel in Puyuhuapi. (B/-/-)

Day 8: QUEULAT NATIONAL PARK

Today you have the option to explore nearby Queulat National Park. A three-hour hike leads to the viewpoint of the stunning hanging glacier "Ventisquero Colgante" and its waterfall. A more demanding alternative is the lesser known day hike to the beautiful lagoon of Los Pumas.

3 h easy hike or demanding full day hike.

Accomodation: 3*-Hotel in Puyuhuapi. (B/-/-)

Day 9-10: Puyuhuapi – Coyhaique – Balmaceda airport

Day 9: PUHUHUAPI – COYHAIQUE

The journey continues south along the lush wild vegetation of the Carretera Austral. Huge Nalca plants and gigantic ferns adorn the roadside; dense forests, quiet fjords and snow-capped peaks form a fabulous primeval landscape. The road winds its way in narrow serpentines on one of the highest passes of the Carretera Austral, and drops abruptly as we reach the raging Rio Cisnes (the Swan River). Here, the impenetrable, evergreen rainforests thin out and make way for the rough southern Patagonian mountain landscape. Through the Simpson River´s wild romantic valley, we reach the capital of the region Aisén, Coyhaique.

Accomodation: 3*-Hotel in Coyhaique. (B/-/-)

Day 10: BALMACEDA

Today, a transfer takes you back to the airport of Balmaceda. From here you have the option to continue your journey through Chile, or return home with a connecting flight via Santiago. (B/-/-)

Accommodation variants

Accommodation variant 2-3*:

  • 2 nights Hotel Weisserhaus in Puerto Varas
  • 1 night Hotel Cabañas Caleta Gonzalo
  • 3 nights Hotel Posada Kahuel bei Chaiten
  • 2 nights Hosteria Alemana in Puyuhuapi
  • 1 night Hotel Belisario Jara in Coyhaique

or similar

Accommodation variant Superior 3-4*:

  • 2 nights Hotel Cabañas del Lago in Puerto Varas
  • 1 night Hotel Cabañas Caleta Gonzalo
  • 3 nights Hotel Yelcho en la Patagonia
  • 2 nights Puyuhuapi Lodge & Spa in Puyuhuapi
  • 1 night Hotel Nomades in Coyhaique.

or similar

WHAT’S INCLUDED

  • Accommodation: 7 or 9 overnight stays in the selected category
  • Meals: 7 or 9 x breakfast, 4 x box lunch
  • Local English/Spanish speaking guide
  • Transport: all transfers as per the detailed itinerary
  • Airport pick up & drop off
  • Entry Fees/Admission: all entry fees as per the detailed itinerary
  • Ferry tickets: as per the detailed itinerary

WHAT’S EXCLUDED

  • Single supplement (depending on hotel category and trip duration): from 390 USD
  • Meals and beverages not indicated on the itinerary
  • Optional trips
  • Tips/gratuity
  • Local payments
  • International and domestic airfare and airport charges
  • Travel insurance is not included in this tour. Travel insurance is mandatory to buy.

DEPARTURE DATES & BOOKING

01.12.2022 - 30.04.2023
available
from 2 persons; on request
from 2.790 USD

PRIVAT JUST4U  You can choose your own private departure for this trip with a minimum of 2 of you travelling together.

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