Chaiten, Carretera Austral, Patagonia, Chile


Located: 66km South from Caleta Gonzalo

Chaiten is a small village founded in 1933 by the then President of Chile, Arturo Alessandri, with a view to “populating” the remote territory of Chile. In 2002 its population had grown to 4,625 inhabitants.

It is served by ferry from Quellon (92km south from Castro) Chiloe Island and light aircraft from Puerto Montt. The ferry takes cars and involves an overnight crossing with only half reclining seats for passengers to “sleep” in.

Brief details
  • Open: Not currently open to the public
  • Area: 988,450 acres
  • Climate: Rainy and mild
  • Rainfall: 110 inches annually
  • Ecosystem: Temperate Rainforest and Deciduous High-Mountain Shrubland
  • Founded: January 7, 2005
Can't Miss
  • Corcovado Volcano (7,546 feet above sea level), which can be viewed from Chaitén.
  • Sail or row in Tic Toc Bay and visit the river of the same name.
  • Fish in Corcovado River.
  • Nevado Volcano (6700 feet above sea level), also known as Yantenes or Yanteles Volcano.
  • Lake Trébol.
  • Visit to the Yelcho Snowdrift (in November, maintenance activities will begin, which will not cause visitors inconvenience).

Volcanic Eruption

Unfortunately, in 2008, the village suffered from the aftermath of the eruption of the nearby Chaiten volcano. One result of this eruption was the explosion of volcanic ash into the atmosphere reaching Puerto Montt as well as being blown as far north and east as Buenos Aires, over 2,500km away. However, more locally the ash fell onto the surrounding forests and hills of Chaiten. This ash, combined with the nearby fast-flowing river and mixed together to create a “river of mud and ash” which broke its banks and flooded half the village, inundating houses and streets. Most of the residents were forced to leave the village and relocated to other places in Chile, however, since 2012 some people have returned.

The village has not totally recuperated but offers as a stop off for petrol (gas) and supplies. There are some simple bed and breakfast lodgings too.

What’s Here?

There is small museum, a trail up to the Chaiten volcano, as well as trails to the Alerces, the hidden waterfalls, and a place to see dolphins in the sea. If open there is also the “Termas el Amarillo”, 24kms south of Chaiten, where you can bathe in hot spring-filled pools. There are also, still visible, those houses saturated in volcanic ash and mud.

Parque Nacional Corcovado

The magnificent Corcovado Volcano stands 7,546 feet above sea level, welcoming visitors to this difficult-to-access, pristine ecosystem of evergreen forests, fjords, bays, rivers, deep valleys, and dozens of hidden lakes. The park was created thanks to Tompkins Conservation’s generous donation of more than 207,570 acres and to the incorporation of national parklands. It features vast expanses of untouched, unexplored land, including hidden corners of the Corcovado Golf and Tic Toc Bay, in Chaitén.

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