Aisen is the name of the Chilean region of northern Patagonia. This is one of the most pristine and undisturbed area in the world and it encompasses a fascinating diversity of eco-regions. The region extends from the barren windswept Patagonian steppes to the exuberant Coastal temperate rain forests and Chilean fjords. 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.
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.
You don't need to go far in Coyhaique to surround yourself in wilderness. The Coyhaique National Reserve is just less than 3km (2 miles) from town and has an area of approximately 8.700 acres. It is a great place for a walks through native forest or a hike to the spectacular lookout point with views of the city of Coyhaique, the MacKay Mountain and the Divisadero Range
Arrival to Balmaceda airport on the first plane of the day
Reception and transfer to hotel in Coyhaique
Lunch in the city
In the afternoon: hike and plant and bird observation at the Coyhaique National Reserve
Back to hotel
Overnight at Coyhaique
Day 2 At dawn with the condors, Visit a Patagonia Estancia (B,L)
The Andean Condor, symbol of the American Andes, is the 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 an old army “unimov” 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 used to our presence in this nestling 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 yet fly and feed themselves. The birds are best seen between October and January.
On the way back we will hike as much as the group wants and then do the rest of the road in unimov.
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 at Coyhaique
Day 3 Pictographs in the Castillo Area (B,L)
A few miles from Villa Cerro Castillo is the “Alero Las Manos” with remains from ancient people that arrived to this area 6.000 to 5.000 years ago. “Many cliffs and rock walls, called in Aisén “aleros”, can be found in the Ibañez River valley. It is a wooded valley, surrounded by high mountains, with its access somehow hidden when approaching the area from the pampa. This valley was first occupied by men in a period of time when the earth temperature was starting to descend to the averages we have today, but with drought conditions still existing in some areas. These people who had a rich tradition in cave painting and rock art, came to the area to make wood for their huts and to hunt guanacos recently born (chulengos), their skin was very valued for clothing (capes). First they probably came only in summer time, when “chulengos” were born and to avoid the heat and dryness of the pampas” (Francisco Mena CULTURAS DEL EXTREMO SUR: Donde la cordillera se hunde en el mar)
The hike we propose starts in Lago Tamango and descend toward the rock wall with the pictographs. The trail is through native forest and is about 7,5 miles long. The total hike is about 4 hours. On the way one can also see the effects of the terrible fires that occurred in the region at the beginning of the century when settlers arrived and needed to clear land for their cattle. The highlights of this hike are the views of the Castillo Moutain range and the chance to meet the settlers`families since we must introduce ourselves when crossing their lands.
Departure toward the south to the Castillo area, crossing the Ibañez and passing by Villa Castillo
Picnic by the Tamango Lake - 10 miles from Villa Castillo / aprox 1 hour
Hike from Lago Tamango to “Alero Las Manos” , a rock cliff with the rest of ancient art rock (hands) – 4 hours hike cross country through native woods – birds and plants observation
Back to the hotel
Overnight at Coyhaique
Day 4 Coyhaique – fishing or horseback riding (B,L)
Today passengers will have two alternatives
1) Fishing in river or lake (depending on weather conditions)
Passengers will have a full day fishing excursión with one guide for two anglers. Fishing places will be either rivers (wading or floating) or lake fishing on board of a boat. Decision will be taken by guide and anglers. Fishing equipment is not provided.
Picnic at the fishing area
2) Horseback riding
ull day horseback ride along the Divisadero range, at the range foothills is located the city of Coyhaique. Ride on trails between deciduous forests with spectacular views of the Coyhaique river valley.
Lodging at Coyhaique
Day 5 Coyhaique – Balmaceda (D)
Transfer to the Balmaceda Airport for the afternoon flight
4 nights stay in Coyhaique (single/double)
Meals as indicated (B: breakfast, L: lunch, D: dinner)
Excursions mentioned in program
Guide days 1 to 4
All transfer in pick up twin cabin 4x4 or private minivan
Excursions except those indicated in the program
Meals except those indicated in the program
Wine and liquors with meals
Tips and personal expenses
Air fares and taxes, Travel insurance
1) The program can me modified according to the passengers interests
2) On day 1, instead of staying in Coyhaique, there is the possibility to spend the night at the Estancia where passengers will be going on day 2. This will prevent waking up so early on day 2. Lodging is at the estancia owners’ house and facilities have to be shared with them.
Price in US$ considering 1Us$ @ Ch$ 440 – requote with new exchange rate when booking – price only for foreigners non resident
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