Hotel Accommodation, Chile Lake Region

Introduction

The Chilean lakes Region covers a vertical distance of over 349km, which includes at least eight large lakes and numerous other, smaller lakes.

The principal two populated centres are Pucon, beside Lake Villarrica, the northern-most lake of the large lake chain and Puerto Varas, bordering the southern-most, large lake in the chain at Lago Llanquihue (pronounced “yan-kee-way”).

Consequently, most of the accommodation is situated around Pucon and Puerto Varas. However, in between, there are also a few very good options that serve as stop offs, or places to book into for several nights and days.

These places are mentioned further below, but effectively these are located:

In addition, we would like to point out that the following hotels are, in our view, offering the highest level of services and comfort within the Chilean Lake Region. It is therefore possible for us to construct an itinerary through the Chilean Lake system whereupon you stay at top-end hotels in key areas.

Hotel Partners

We will summarise below our hotel partners within the Chilean Lake Region. Why do we have accommodation partners? The basic reality is that we, like you, want to know which hotels are “decent”, and that they offer comfortable accommodation in terms of rooms and facilities, and we prefer to work with those hotels that “pass our test”.

NOTE: Remember that we realise that you may well have a particular hotel, or lodge, that is not shown in our listings. If this is the case, PLEASE tell us what, and where this hotel is, and we will include it in your itinerary.

Lake Ranco

Carretera Austral, Sector 3, Coyhaique to Puerto Montt, Patagonia

Introduction

Our sector 3 is, effectively, the sector 1 but in reverse order. This is because you can fly in to Balmaceda airport (Coyhaique) and drive north, up the Carretera Austral.

The distance from Coyhaique to Puerto Montt is 765km and to Puerto Varas it is 763km.

The route will pass through two provinces, or regions, of Chile. The first part will go through the northern part of the Aysen region, and above that will be the southern part of the Chilean Lake Region.

The Aysen Region

The Aysen province contains more islands, fiords, inlets, rivers, ice fields and waterfalls than the northern Lake Region. This is because as the Carretera Austral continues south it passes through areas that endured more “ice age craftsmanship”, in the sense that more fiords, inlets, channels were “gouged” out in this area. Largely because as the road gets further away from the equator the climate is cooler, snow fall, over the millennia was more plentiful and glaciers were created with more mass.

The Lake Region

Chile’s Lake Region is a stunningly beautiful collection of lakes, snow-capped volcanoes, rivers and green-forested mountain valleys.

Puerto Montt and Puerto Varas, the optional, northern, starting points for the Carretera Austral, are located in the southern edge of the main Lake Region, by the large Lake Llanquihue (pronounced yan-kee-way). The Carretera Austral then passes through a more “rugged” and “less serene” lake region sector. This is because, unlike the main lake region, the ancient valleys have been flooded by sea water tens of thousands of years ago, where those valleys are now fiords. Also, the space that the Carretera occupies is along a narrow strip where either side are steep, forested mountain sides. There are lakes in this sector but spread around and located at varying altitudes. In addition, the rivers tend to be faster flowing and the ice fields on top of the Andes are closer to ground level. The reason for this is because the Andes and snow line are lower in altitude the further south one goes. The snow line decreases in altitude because the overall temperature decreases the further one gets away from the equator.

The Better-known Places of Interest and Activities IN Sector 3:

Fly Fishing

Click on map for larger image

Where from? See below...

Patagonia is one of the World’s greatest places for fly fishing. This is due to the vast number of rivers, lakes and lagoons and the fact that this area is still relatively new in terms of numbers of people coming here to fish.

There are large fish to be caught, usually under catch and release. Among the varieties are Rainbow, Brown and Brook trout, as well as Atlantic salmon (these have come out from Chilean agua programs), Coho salmon and Chinook salmon.

Above are a few of the principal destination places where you can fly fish. However, there are also numerous other lodges spread around Patagonia in remote locations. If you are a serious fly-fisherman and seek such lodges, please get in touch and we will arrange whatever you need.

Destinations to Fly Fish from:

Lago Yelcho via Futaleufu La Junta Melimoyu Lodge El Pangue

Laguna San Rafael Glacier

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Where? From Puerto Chacabuco

The San Rafael Glacier is a large glacier that comes down from the northern ice field that covers the Andes. Navigational trips depart from Puerto Chacabuco (79km west from Coyhaique) to see the high and wide glacial ice face calve off into a sea-water lagoon.

Queulat Hanging Glacier

Click on map for larger image

Where? In Queulat National Park

The glacier is high up in the Queulat National Park, just south of Puyuhuapi. It is a large glacier to see at height and in one sector there is a waterfall caused by the melting ice and this cascades down from the height of the glacier to the lagoon below.

Puyuhuapi Hot Springs

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Where? Puyuhuapi Lodge

Along the Carretera Austral there are a few places where water has been heated by underground volcanic heat and then surfaces to ground level. Such locations are called “hot springs”.

However, one particular place has mastered access to this natural heated water in one of the remotest places on the Carretera Austral and built a high-quality lodge here. The ability to bathe in the hot springs and enjoy total comfort in a tranquil, beautiful location is excellent for anyone’s health.

White Water Rafting and River Kayaking

Click on map for larger image

Where? Futaleufu

The Futaleufu river is known to be one of the best in the World for white-water rafting. It has high-grade challenging rapids for those who seek the adrenalin rush, as well as less difficult for the rest.

Parque Pumalin (Millennial Alerce Trees)

Click on map for larger image

Where? Caleta Gonzalo

The Pumalin National park was one of the first in Chilean Patagonia to be created by Douglas and Kristine Tompkins and then gifted to the Chilean nation. It contains vast areas of native forest including Alerce trees that date back thousands of years.

Self-Drive, Carretera Austral, South to North, Coyhaique to Puerto Montt or Puerto Varas

Self-Drive the Carretera Austral, Coyhaique to Puerto Montt

Carretera Austral, Self-Drive, South to North, Caleta Gonzalo to Puerto Montt or Puerto Varas

Introduction

This is the final sector for the drive starting at Coyhaique and heading north to Puerto Montt or Puerto Varas. This stage is broken into 3 sectors, and the final sector has two route options.

It goes without saying that here at ExperienceChile.Org we will arrange the rent a car you will need to drive through the Patagonian forest and Andean valleys, as well as your accommodation.

First Leg:

Caleta Gonzalo to Hornopiren 2 Ferries plus 10km

Total: 10km

Caleta Gonzalo Fiordo Lago Leptepu Hornopiren

Route Description

The first part of this route is on the ferry from Caleta Gonzalo to Fiordo Largo, which will take around 45min. You will need to drive down a steep ramp over the beach to board the ferry.

Caleta Gonzalo Departure times are: 13:00hrs

The next part is a short drive, through the forest, from Fiordo Largo to Leptepu, a distance of around 10km, on an unpaved road. At Leptepu you take another ferry to Hornopiren, which will take around 4hrs through the narrow channel and past small inlets and creeks.

Leptepu Departures are at: 14:30hrs

Note: Please check ferry departure times because they are subject to change without notice.

Hornopiren

Upon arrival to Hornopiren you may wish to relax for a night or two and enjoy the local Hornopiren National Park, or just continue on towards Puerto Varas or Puerto Montt, via Caleta Puelche.

Second Leg:

Hornopiren to Puelche

Total: 55km

Hornopiren Puelche

Route Description

The road distance between Hornopiren to Caleta Puelche is 55km and will take about 1hr or so. From Puelche you will be on the home stretch, however, there are two alternative routes and two alternative final destinations. One option is shorter than the other, but less picturesque.

Third Leg:

Puelche to Puerto Montt or Puerto Varas

Regarding the 3rd leg, there are 2 route options to get from Puelche to Puerto Montt or Puerto Varas. One is shorter than the other, and one is more interesting and “pretty”. Further below we explain the two route options.

Route Option 1

Puelche to Puerto Montt 30min Ferry plus 45km

Total: 45km

Puelche La Arena Puerto Montt

Take the ferry from Puelche to La Arena, which is about a 30min ferry ride, and then drive on a paved road to Puerto Montt. This route is less picturesque than route option 2, but much quicker to get to your final destination.

If you are ending at Puerto Montt then you have made it. Alternatively you can go to Puerto Varas, which is only 22km north of Puerto Montt, or even continue the adventure, and hop over to the island of Chiloe.

Route Option 2

Puelche to Puerto Varas via Cochomo

Total: 221km

Hornopiren Puelche Puelo Cochomo Ralun Ensenada Puerto Varas

This route involves taking the road from Puelche so that the fiord, and therefore the water, is on your left. After 36km of unpaved road, you will arrive at the very small village of Puelo. The road will continue on towards Cochamo, which is a further 32km on an unpaved road. Cochamo is a very small settlement. This drive is challenging on the road, but scenery-wise it is very pretty.

Continuing on the same road the next place is Ralun, a 15km drive, and here the road will start to be paved. This is now the end of the fiord that you will have been driving beside since leaving Puelche. The total distance from Puelche to the end of the fiord, by road, is 116km, on mostly unpaved road, so this will take time, likely 1.5hrs or so.

From Ralun the road will be a surfaced and the drive of around 33km will take you past forested hills until you get to Ensenada, right on the edge of the large Lake Llanquihue (pronounced yan-kee-way), and almost at the foot of the conical, snow-capped Osorno volcano.

From Ensenada, with the lake on your right, you will be heading towards Puerto Varas and after 50km you will arrive here.

Puerto Varas

Puerto Varas is a great place to be based at the end of your Carretera Austral adventure. It is a lake-side village with small cafes and restaurants as well as benefitting from striking views of the lake and volcano the other side.

Alternatively, you can drive 22km south and end at Puerto Montt.

Carretera Austral, Self-Drive, South to North, Puyuhuapi to Puerto Raul Marin, La Junta, Futaleufu and Parque Pumalin (Caleta Gonzalo)

Introduction

It goes without saying that here at ExperienceChile.Org we will arrange the rent a car you will need to drive through the Patagonian forest and Andean valleys, as well as your accommodation.

Route Option 1:

Puyuhuapi Village to El Pangue

Total: 18km

Puyuhuapi Village El Pangue

Route Description

Upon exiting the tiny, Germanic-style village of Puyuhuapi, the road cuts through forest and then 18km later, on the right is the entrance to El Pangue. El Pangue is a quiet, “Camp David” type retreat and an ideal base for resting and / or participating in outdoor activities such as fishing, hiking, kaying and even swimming in the heated outdoor pool.

El Pangue to La Junta

Total: 28km

El Pangue La Junta

Route Description

Upon exiting from El Pangue you will turn RIGHT and continue for 28km until you arrive to La Junta. La Junta is a central stop off on the Carretera Austral and surrounded by green, forested hills, with lakes and rivers nearby. There are a few lodges for accommodation and options to explora into the highlands of forest, lakes and rivers from here. Alternatively, it can be a one-night stop off.

Route Option 2:

Puyuhuapi (or La Junta) to Puerto Raul Marin Balmaceda

Total: 124km

Puyuhuapi Village El Pangue La Junta Raul Marin Balmaceda

Route Description

If you are avoiding the overnight at La Junta, or have rested at La Junta and now wish to continue on to visit the sleepy village of Puerto Raul Marin Balmaceda, you will head north on the Carretera Austral from La Junta. Then, just before arriving to the orange-coloured bridge you turn left. This narrow road will lead to Puerto Raul Marin Balmaceda.

The drive here is along a narrow, unpaved road for 78km until you get to the simple car ferry that crosses the river.

Puerto Raul Marin Balmaceda

Total: 78km west from La junta

La Junta Raul Marin Balmaceda

This is a tiny village located on the western side of the Patagonian coast. An ideal place to come and feel totally cut off from the rest of the world. We have accommodation here that will let you relax and unwind totally. Sounds of nature, greenery, trees, the sea, river, it’s all here plus fishing, kayaking, walking.

Route Option 3:

La Junta to Futaleufu

La Junta to Futaleufu: 124km, (to Santa Lucia 76km)

La Junta Santa Lucia Futaleufu

Route Description

Coming back to the La Junta orange Bridge, from here, heading north it is 76km until you arrive to the small settlement of Santa Lucia. The scenery along this stretch of the Carretera Austral is forested hills and rivers.

Villa Santa Lucia

Santa Lucia is a tiny village, part of which suffered from a landslide in 2016, caused by considerable rainfall. This incident closed the Carretera Austral for a while as well as demolished some of the buildings in its most northern sector.

The main Carretera Austral Road actually by passes Villa Santa Lucia, leaving the small settlement to the right. Then, at the end part of the village there is a turn right, which will take you to Futaleufu, or straight on, which will take you to Chaiten and then Caleta Gonzalo.

For now, let’s assume you turn right and go to Futaleufu.

Villa Santa Lucia to Futaleufu

Total: 78km

Santa Lucia Futaleufu

The road will be unpaved for 17km to Puerto Ramirez. During this route you will see Lake Yelcho on the left and the forested hills either side. From Puerto Ramirez the road will continue unpaved for 61km until you arrive to Futaleufu.

Futaleufu Places of Interest

Futaleufu is very close to the Argentine border, and about 250km north from Coyhaique and approx 80km directly east from Chaiten this is a small village nestled in a valley surrounded by mountains. It is a “Mecca” for white-water rafting enthusiasts because it is the access point for the Futaleufu river, offering one of the wildest rafting experiences on Earth. It is also a great place for fly-fishing and generally relaxing amid a vast area of undisturbed natural beauty.

Futaleufu to Chaiten

Total: 156km

Futaleufu Santa Lucia Chaiten

The drive from Fuataleufu back to the crossroads by Villa Santa Lucia is 78km and passes by lake Yelcho on the right. At the crossing that leads onto the Carretera Austral north or south, you will turn RIGHT towards Chaiten. From the crossroads it will be 35km to the bridge that crosses over River Yelcho and then 43km on a good, paved road into Chaiten.

El Chaiten is where you can fill up with fuel for the car and maybe rest and have some food. El Chaiten used to be a good stop over place, however, in 2008 a nearby volcanic eruption caused a mud slide that wiped out one part of the village and the residents were told to evacuate. Today some residents returned and there are minimal services.

Chaiten to Caleta Gonzalo (Parque Pumalin)

Total: 156km

Chaiten Caleta Gonzalo

The drive out of Chaiten passes by the beach and the sea on the left and then cuts through forest. If you are able to stop a few kms north of Chaiten you can see where the steep-sided hills come down to black, volcanic-sand beaches and where, also, the forest comes down to the water’s edge. On some parts of this stretch of road there are also often hundreds of parakeets.

At the end of 60km you will arrive to Caleta Gonzalo and the cabins for accommodation as well as the entrance into Pumalin National Park.

Route Option 4:

Puyuhuapi direct to Caleta Gonzalo (Parque Pumalin)

Total: 260km

Puyuhuapi Village El Pangue La Junta Raul Marin Balmaceda

This is the direct option which will take in the sectors mentioned above such as:

Puyuhuapi to La Junta; La Junta to Villa Santa Lucia; Villa Santa Lucia to Chaiten and then Chiten to Caleta Gonzalo.

Carretera Austral, Self-Drive, South to North, Coyhaique to Puyuhuapi

Introduction

The drive north, along the Carretera Austral, towards Puyuhuapi, is explained here under Stage A. Considering the distance, an overnight break, or a stay for a few nights to properly enjoy the area, would be sensible at Queulat or around the Puyuhuapi area.

It goes without saying that here at ExperienceChile.Org we will arrange the rent a car you will need to drive through the Patagonian forest and Andean valleys, as well as your accommodation.

Coyhaique

This is the main city of the Aysen region and offers itself as a base from which to explore the Carretera Austral either heading south or north. It is also the only city with an airport that can receive commercial jet liners, with connections to Puerto Montt (and sometimes with Punta Arenas), although the actual airport is called Balmaceda and is about 50km south from Coyhaique.

The scenery around Coyhaiqe is similar to that the Mid-Western USA. High, mountainous ridges as well as plains. It has a kind of “cowboy” feel to the place and, indeed it is a Chilean “cowboy” town in the heart of Patagonia. There are many sheep and cattle farms in the area.

In line with our other self-drive Carretera Austral stages, in order to understand the sectors as clearly as possible we have further divided our stage A into 2 route options, and these are:

Route Option 1 Coyhaique to Chacabuco:

Total: 79km

Coyhaique Puerto Aysen Puerto Chacabuco

Route Description

There is only one main road, the Carretera Austral Ruta 7 that exits the northern sector of Coyhaique city. Once you are on this paved road it is a straight 65km west to Puerto Aysen. Along this route the scenery is nice, but nothing outstanding compared with the other parts of the Carretera Austral.

Upon arrival to Puerto Aysen, which is a non-descript village, you will see quite an impressive-looking suspension bridge that takes the road over the Simpson River and on to Puerto Chacabuco, which is about 14km south from Puerto Aysen.

Puerto Chacabuco is a tiny settlement, beside a fiord.

Puerto Chacabuco 79km west from Coyhaique. The reason to come here is to get the catamaran that departs from this point to go to the impressive San Rafael Glacier.

NOTE: This should be booked in advance and will require a night after the excursion, ideally, at the hotel in Chacabuco, which ExperienceChile.Org will arrange.

San Rafael Glacier (Parque Nacional Laguna San Rafael)

Glacier Location: South-west of Coyhaique.

5hrs by catamaran from Puerto Chacabuco, or few a days by boat from Puerto Montt (see our Patagonia Cruises, Crucero Skorpios itinerary). To fly over the glacier takes 1hr 30min by light aircraft from Coyhaique.

The Park covers an area of 1,742,000 hectares and includes the Glacier San Rafael which, as it slowly recedes back from the sea, breaks off into huge icebergs that float in the San Rafael Lagoon. The size of the glacial wall and the massive chunks that break off draws travellers from all over the world. All boats pass between the archipelago channels and passengers can enjoy a beautiful scenic journey going to and returning from the glacier.

Apart from the glacier, Coyhaique offers horse riding, fishing and hiking, but mainly Coyhaique should be looked upon as a stop-over place in order to get further south or to go north if you have arrived here first.

Route Option 2 Coyhaique to:

  • Queulat National Park: 188km
  • Puyuhuapi Lodge: 196km
  • Puyuhuapi Village: 209km
  • El Pangue Lodge: 227km
  • La Junta: 255km

Coyhaique Villa Mañihuales Villa Amengual National Park Queulat Puyuhuapi Lodge C Park Puyuhuapi Village El Pangue

Route Description

On the way to the above destinations, you will have the option to turn left at a point approximately 34km past the village of Villa Amengual that will lead west to Puerto Cisnes.

Puerto Cisnes

Puerto Cisnes is a small fishing village located 35km west from the turn off mentioned above, on the coast of Patagonian Chile. It is a nondescript place, but if you seek to see some real life that is NOT made for the tourists then this place will give you that. Basic accommodations and very rustic. There is a National Park near here: Parque Nacional Isla Magdalena, but this requires a navigation across the water.

Ignoring Puerto Cisnes

Ignoring the turn left to Puerto Cisnes, continue onward towards Queulat National Park and Puyuhuapi village.

Queulat Hanging Glacier

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Where? In Queulat National Park

Here, you will have the option to stop off for a quick visit to see the Queulat Hanging glacier, but much better if you can plan in a few nights in the area.

Puyuhuapi Hot Springs

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Where? Puyuhuapi Lodge

As well as, or alternatively, you can drive on for another 8km and get to the embarkation point to cross over the fiord and arrive to the Puyuhuapi Lodge. This is a wonderful place for a relaxing few days amid the tranquillity of the Patagonian natural forest, beside a fiord.

Activities and Places of Interest, Between Coyhaique and Puerto Montt, Carretera Austral, Patagonia

South to North Maine Places of Interest & Activities

Note: Our Sector 1 North to South is the Sector 3 in reverse order. Therefore, we are not showing Sector 1 below.

Fly Fishing

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Where from? See below...

Patagonia is one of the World’s greatest places for fly fishing. This is due to the vast number of rivers, lakes and lagoons and the fact that this area is still relatively new in terms of numbers of people coming here to fish.

There are large fish to be caught, usually under catch and release. Among the varieties are Rainbow, Brown and Brook trout, as well as Atlantic salmon (these have come out from Chilean agua programs), Coho salmon and Chinook salmon.

Above are a few of the principal destination places where you can fly fish. However, there are also numerous other lodges spread around Patagonia in remote locations. If you are a serious fly-fisherman and seek such lodges, please get in touch and we will arrange whatever you need.

Destinations to Fly Fish from:

Lago Yelcho via Futaleufu La Junta Melimoyu Lodge El Pangue

Laguna San Rafael Glacier

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Where? From Puerto Chacabuco

The San Rafael Glacier is a large glacier that comes down from the northern ice field that covers the Andes. Navigational trips depart from Puerto Chacabuco (79km west from Coyhaique) to see the high and wide glacial ice face calve off into a sea-water lagoon.

Queulat Hanging Glacier

Click on map for larger image

Where? In Queulat National Park

The glacier is high up in the Queulat National Park, just south of Puyuhuapi. It is a large glacier to see at height and in one sector there is a waterfall caused by the melting ice and this cascades down from the height of the glacier to the lagoon below.

Puyuhuapi Hot Springs

Click on map for larger image

Where? Puyuhuapi Lodge

Along the Carretera Austral there are a few places where water has been heated by underground volcanic heat and then surfaces to ground level. Such locations are called “hot springs”.

However, one particular place has mastered access to this natural heated water in one of the remotest places on the Carretera Austral and built a high-quality lodge here. The ability to bathe in the hot springs and enjoy total comfort in a tranquil, beautiful location is excellent for anyone’s health.

White Water Rafting and River Kayaking

Click on map for larger image

Where? Futaleufu

The Futaleufu river is known to be one of the best in the World for white-water rafting. It has high-grade challenging rapids for those who seek the adrenalin rush, as well as less difficult for the rest.

Parque Pumalin (Millennial Alerce Trees)

Click on map for larger image

Where? Caleta Gonzalo

The Pumalin National park was one of the first in Chilean Patagonia to be created by Douglas and Kristine Tompkins and then gifted to the Chilean nation. It contains vast areas of native forest including Alerce trees that date back thousands of years.

Carretera Austral, Lake Region to Aysen, South to North Destinations, Sector 3

Introduction

The first part, or the northern start point, of the Carretera Austral is at Puerto Montt or Puerto Varas, both of which are in the southern part of the Chilean Lake Region.

The Lake Region (or Provence) extends south to just above La Junta. Once past this “imaginary line” the route enters the Aysen Region.

Destinations in the Aysen Region

The Aysen sector of the Carretera Austral includes one of the largest expanses of channels and fiords on Earth. In a straight line, start to end, it covers 1,000km, however, the total coastline of the numerous islands, inlets and fjords, if measured and added together, would be more than 84,000km.

If you had the patience to count, there are over 5,500 islands in this part of Chilean Patagonia, the vast majority totally uninhabited by man.

This incredible archipelago, fiords and valleys were crafted from numerous ice ages. Constant snow falls created huge glaciers that slowly came down from the mountains carving out the rock as they did so and leaving behind valleys. Think of Antarctica today, with its ice shelf measuring kms in height!

Then, added to this mix was the shifting of the tectonic plates that caused land to go up, but also down; volcanic eruptions, and flooding from the Pacific Ocean into the lower land areas.

Carretera Austral North Of Puyuhuapi Experience Chile
Carretera Austral Navegacion Laguna San Rafael Experience Chile

And, if that was not enough, the receding glaciers and snow melted to form rivers and lakes, together with abundant rain fall creating numerous more rivers all flowing quickly into the sea.

This combination has resulted in, today, a beautiful eco system and dramatic landscape, full of natural richness.

Destinations in the Lake Region

Puerto Varas Church Experience
Carretera Austral Rio Futaleufu Experience Chile

The Carretera Austral that passes through the southern sector of the Chilean lake region tends to enjoy scenery of snow-covered, conical volcanoes, lakes, green, forested hill sides, fjords and channels.

Accommodation Carretera Austral, Aysen to Lake Region, Sector 3, Patagonia

Introduction

Most of the accommodation located along the Cerretera Austral will be in the lodge style. Usually, lodge means a building constructed from natural wood on the exterior and an interior with stone-sided open fireplaces; soft, warm interior lighting, and natural, woven materials often as part of the interior decoration. However, the comfort level of lodge will vary between the rustic, simple level right up to the top-end luxury level as well as those considered to be “in between” also. In addition to the there are, in the main cities, the familiar hotel-style options.

Carretera Austral Futaleufu Featured Image
Puerto Varas Awa Hotel Featured Image

Here at Experience Chile, as part of our philosophy to offer our clients an experience based upon local knowledge, we make it part of our business to know as many accommodation options as possible at a personal level.

We realise that we cannot depend on what is published in the internet (and nor should you) because every type of accommodation be it a hotel, lodge or bed and breakfast feels that their place is “the best”, which so often, is just not the case.

We visit the accommodation options, at a high cost to us, in order to see what a place is really like through regular inspection visits, ideally staying overnight. If we can stay overnight it allows for a better understanding of what the experience will be like for our clients, should they also stay in the same place.

In order to better find the accommodation that best suits your particular requirements we have categorised the accommodation options in a way that we feel best defines each hotel. In addition to this category system we also stipulate if the property has been “inspected” and / or “approved” by us. If a hotel has not been inspected, it means only that. In the event that a place has not received our “approved” label it just means that we do not feel we cannot “overly recommend” that place, but it may be perfectly good.

NOTE: You may well have a particular hotel, or lodge, that is not shown in our listings. If this is the case, PLEASE tell us what and where this hotel is, and we will include it in your itinerary.

Good Level Hotels

We define a “good level” hotel as being a place that does not merit, yet, being in the luxury nor “top, or high end” level of accommodation. Good level means a perfectly decent, comfortable hotel.

Mid Level Hotels

Our “mid level” category is a hotel that could be better, but is not bad either. Usually these properties are “practical” more than providing any particular characteristic that would push it into a higher category. Therefore it is in-between good and “could be better” ie “mid level”, but nevertheless will provide acceptable accommodation.

Carretera Austral, Sector 2, Coyhaique to Villa O’Higgins, Patagonia

Introduction

The Sector 2 runs north to south, starting at Coyhaique (or from Balmaceda airport, which is 45km south of Coyhaique) and ending at Villa O’Higgins, the actual end of the Carretera Austral. This road distance from Coyhaique is approximately 571km, but this depends if you take in Puerto Guadal and Caleta Tortel.

The route will stay within the Aysen (sometimes spelt Aisen) Region, albeit the southern sector of the Aysen Region.

The Southern Sector of the Aysen Region

The Carretera Austral that cuts through the southern sector of the Aysen Region is, mainly, more inland and at a lower altitude than the sector north of Coyhaique. This means that the scenery is a little different to the northern Aysen sector.

The geography, for example, between Villa Cerro Castillo to Puerto Guadal, is jagged mountain peaks interspersed with glaciers and snow coverings, cascading waterfalls, meandering rivers, and remnants of forests devastated by volcanic eruptions.

Principally the species of tree in this southern sector are Lenga and Nirre. In parts it is typical Patagonian Steppe country, the kind of scenery you may have seen in parts of the “cowboy country” in the U.S.A.

Here, there are vast valleys that have been carved by ancient, massive rivers, leaving sedimentary layers as the rivers reduced over millions of years. And, at altitude, within the sediment, there are often fossils to be found, including ammonites that lived between 65 – 240 million years in the past as well as dinosaur, other reptiles and mammals.

Some of the rivers and lakes are a fantastic, turquoise colour as a result of minerals in melting glacial water. There are lagoons with icebergs from glaciers and access to some of the largest glaciers in Patagonia, especially Glacier San Rafael.

On the coastal area of this part of Aysen there are islands, inlets and fiords, however these are mainly difficult to access until you get down to the final sector around Caleta Tortel and Villa O’Higgins or have taken the catamaran from Puerto Chacabuco (west of Coyhaique) to see the San Rafael Glacier.

Within this Sector 2 are these National Parks:

Parque Nacional Cerro Castillo - (Access Villa Cerro Castillo, South of Balmaceda)

Parque Nacional Laguna San Rafael - (Access Puerto Chacabuco and Puerto Tranquilo, Lake General Carrera)

Parque Nacional Patagonia - (Access Valle Chacabuco, just before entering Cochrane)

The Better-known Places of Interest and Activities IN Sector 2:

Fly Fishing

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Where at? See below...

Puerto Guadal Area (South-West Corner Lake General Carrera)

There is great fly fishing from Coyhaique (you will be taken to the locations), and also further south at Lake General Carrera and the River Baker.

Most of the accommodation lodges located around the south-western corner of Lake General Carrera will offer fly fishing if requested.

There are large fish to be caught, usually under catch and release. Typically, these varieties are Brook, Brown and Rainbow trout, as well as Chinook salmon and Coho salmon.

However, there are also some lodges that specialise in fly fishing in this area. If you are a serious fly-fisherman and seek such lodges, please get in touch and we will arrange whatever you need.

Parque Cerro Castillo (Trekking in Cerro Castillo)

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Where? Cerro Castillo

On the way south from Coyhaique or Balmaceda airport, you will pass through the Cerro Castillo National Park. If you wish to stop off at the village of Cerro Castillo, you can enter the park and do some trekking.

Marble Caves (or "cathedral")

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Where? At Puerto Rio Tranquilo, Lake General Carrera

The impressive pictures of the naturally sculptured marble rock in lake General Carrera have generated considerable interest outside of Chile.

The marble, as a result of thousands of years of water lapping its exterior has been carved into various unpredictable shapes. On a sunny day, with the light enabling the blue of Lake General Carrera to reflect on the colours of the marble, the effect is stunning.

Patagonia Jet Boat

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Where? At Tierra Luna, Puerto Guadal

If you like an adrenaline rush, a ride in a powerful motor launch that goes up, against the fast-flowing river and over its rapids, will be very exhilarating. Apart from the excitement of the ride, this trip also takes passengers into places not accessible any other way. This is a great way to experience and see even more of Patagonia.

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