With this program you will be able to discover four areas of the region:
Coyhaique is the Capital city and is located in the very heart of the region, on the eastern side of the Austral Andes, among rugged landscape, between high mountains topped with everlasting snow and glaciers to the west and the much flatter and drier steppe to the east. It is a land of contrasts, the entrance door to a hidden and unknown Patagonia.
The Patagonian Steppe, a “coirón” grass prairie, is a much softer landscape with lower hills, small lagoons scattered here and there and at the bottom of the valleys small Ñirre forests. It is the perfect environment for many migratory and endemic birds. This is the land of the condor that glides in the huge sky looking for a cliff where to rest or for food.
The Queulat National Park is a wild and pristine territory where the evergreen forest is topped with the glaciers and ice fields of the Austral Andes, and complemented with the rich bio diversity of the fjords and channels of the Austral Pacific. Before being a park this land was never inhabited by anyone or any road or path ever crossed it, it is the only national park in Chile with virgin land that can be reached by car.
The Glacier San Rafael is the result of more than 30 thousand years of nature’s work and together with the Laguna they probably are the best and most worldwide known destination in Aisén, not only because of their beauty but because it is the closest glacier to the Equator, at sea level.
Day 1 Balmaceda – Coyhaique (L)
Coyhaique “koikaikek”, which probably means in Tehuelche “camp near the water”, is the main city and the capital of the Aisén region and has a population of a little bit more than 43.000 people. The city was founded October 12th, 1929 in a beautiful valley at the junction of two rivers: the Coyhaique and the Simpson, at the foot hill of the Divisadero Range. At the beginning Coyhaique provided the basic services for the first settlers and the Sociedad Industrial de Aisén, SIA, which had its administration buildings since 1906 by the Coyhaique River. The town hall was created in 1948 and in 1974 the town becomes capital of the region.
Arrival to Balmaceda in the first plane of the day
Reception at the airport and transfer to Coyhaique
On the way we will stop at the hotel to drop off the luggage and continue immediately toward the “Campo Ecuestre”, at the foothill of the Divisadero Range. There a good barbecue will be ready for you and afterwards excellent horses will take you to a beautiful view point where you will be able to appreciate all the surrounding landscape
Back to the hotel around 6 p.m.
Day 2 Coyhaique Alto (B,L)
The Andean Condor, symbol of the American Andes, is the second largest bird in the world; he is the calm guardian of the sky always gliding over the high peaks of the Aisen landscape. This untamed, wild and still virgin land, one of the least contaminated on earth, is the last redoubt for the 1000 and more condors left in the region and for several nestling and reproduction places. In this program we invite you to visit one of the few remaining places where the bird can be seen in its habitat, learn a little bit more about it and take many pictures to bring back home.
The excursion: We will depart from the hotel very early, before dawn break and will drive eastward to an Estancia (sheep ranch) from where we will switch car and use pick up trucks to continue the trip following a very rough road. A mile or two before reaching our destination we will continue walking, very silently until the top of the cliff where the condors nest. We will approach the border of the cliff for pictures of condors and their chickens. We will stay there for a couple of hours, as motionless as possible, so the condors get use to our presence in this resting area which has probably been used as such for thousand years. We will watch the adults start their flight and glide over our heads, searching for food for them and the chickens who cannot fly yet and feed themselves.
On the way back we will hike as much as the group wants and then do the rest of the road by truck
Departure very early to an Estancia (sheep farming ranch) located at the border with Argentina
Light breakfast at the hotel
Drive to a Condor’s communal roost : observation and photography
12 and a half miles from the Estancia / 1 hour drive
Patagonia Barbecue back at the Estancia
Visit of the Estancia. Back to hotel
Overnight in Coyhaique
You might want to spend the night at the Estancia, at the owner’s house, it is friendly, very welcoming but there is only one bathroom. The experience to wake up in the Patagonian Steppe is unique.
Day 3 Coyhaique –Queulat National Park (B,L,D)
The Queulat National Park is a wild and pristine territory where the temperate rainforest is topped with the glaciers and ice fields of the Austral Andes and complemented with the rich bio diversity of the fjords and channels of the Austral Pacific. Before being a park this land was never inhabited by anyone or any road or path ever crossed it, it is the only national park in Chile with unexplored territory that can be reached by car. It is the forest mentioned by Nobel price Chilean poet, Pablo Neruda, in his memoirs.
Departure toward the north. The road runs along 3 of the Patagonia giants: the Simpson river that crosses the Andes Mountains from east to west, the Mañihuales river that flows into the Simpson and the Cisnes river whose source is in the Argentinean pampa and flows into the Pacific at Puerto Cisnes.
The southern highway is a country roads that winds between high mountains with rocky and steep slopes covered with glaciers, snow and covered with the temperate rain forest
Picnic on the road
30 km south of the lodge, the visitors will enter the magnificent Queulat National Park, a protected area with virgin temperate coastal rainforest. This forest can be found only in 4 other places in the planet.
Dinner and lodging by the Queulat fjord in the very heart of the forest, at the Ecolodge Fiordo Queulat
Day 4 Queulat National Park (B,L,D)
Passengers can take two of the following excursions, depending on the weather, the tide and their interest
Hike to the “Vida Salvaje” waterfall among the native forest. Bird watching and observation of the local vegetation very interesting because of the high biodiversity
Navigation to the Mona Island with Picnic
Sea Kayak excursion on the Queulat fjord
Fly fishing or spinning.
Lunch and dinner – lodging at the Ecolodge
Day 5 (Sunday or Wednesday) Puyuhuapi Lodge (B,L,D)
Puyuhuapi, is a remote place of the Chilean northern Patagonia, a space of wild beauty; a place of fjords, native forests, rivers, waterfalls, mountains and glaciers. We receive all travellers that venture to this uninhabited corner of Chilean Patagonia, where birds, dolphins, and sea lions roam. Amidst exuberant vegetation and accessible by sea, lies a unique space where sophistication and simplicity harmoniously combine: Puyuhuapi Lodge & Spa. The experience culminates with a cruise aboard the catamaran Patagonia Express, through canals and austral fiords to Laguna San Rafael and its awe-inspiring glacier.
Excursion in the Queulat Park to visit the Hanging Glacier – hike either on Tempanos’ trail (easy) or the Morrena’s trail (moderate)
Transfer to the dock of Puyuhuapi Lodge and boat transfer to hotel
Use of outside hot spring pools or of the SPA
Lodging at Puyuhuapi Lodge
Day6 Puyuhuapi - Laguna San Rafael - Chacabuco – Coyhaique (B,L,D))
Our day begins early. At 7:00 a.m. we board the PATAGONIA EXPRESS catamaran and begin our journey through the austral fjords on our way to the San Rafael Lagoon. The 7-hour trip is a sheer delight to the senses: the transparency of the waters, the majesty of the Andes Mountains wrapped in lush forests, the play of light interwoven through the clouds, and sometimes... encounters with playful dolphins. Sailing through a number of channels, we finally reach the Tempanos River, which leads us to the San Rafael Lagoon, home to a millenarian glacier. Experience it! After a visit of approximately 2 hours, we begin our return trip, arriving in Puerto Chacabuco around 10:30 p.m., where we will be transferred to the hotel in Puerto Chacabuco or Coyhaique.
Overnight at Puerto Chacabuco or Coyhaique
Day 7 Chacabuco - Coyhaique – Balmaceda (B)
Alter breakfast transfer to Balmaceda Airport for flight Lan 074
2 night in hotel in Coyhaique
2 nights at Ecolodge Fiordo Queulat
1 night at Puyuhuapi Lodge
1 night at Puerto Chacabuco or in Coyhaique
Double based accommodations
Meals as indicated (B: breakfast, L: lunch, D: dinner)
Excursions detailed in program
Does not include
Meals, excursions and transfers not mentioned in program
Flights and boarding taxes
Personal expenses and tips
1) Condors are in the wild, so we cannot insure that you will see them or how many you will see. Better time of the year is spring and early summer
2) The program can me modified according to the passengers interests
Price in US$ considering 1Us$ @ Ch$ 440 – requote with new exchange rate when booking – price only for foreigners non resident
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