Backpacking in the Canadian Rockies with a toddler (part 1)

“It does not do to dwell on dreams and forget to live.” ― J.K. Rowling

Back in the summer of 2017 we spent 5 weeks of backpacking with Lotta in the Canadian Rockies. It was a hot and dry summer. On those 5 weeks, we only experienced 2 days of rain. Good for us, but not so for British Columbia‘s wild backcountry. It was the summer with a huge amount of wildfires in British Columbia. Hazy air caused by the cluster of wildfires has spread over the Rockies. Some days the mountain backdrop was invisible due to the haze, but we we’re never affected by smoke during our backpacking trips.

Lotta was 19 months old on this long backpacking trip. It was one year before her brother Bosse was born. She was carried in the Thule Sappling. It was the last trip on which we could do longer multi-day treks with distances covering over 20k per day. Since Lotta walks for herself, future trips would be much shorter…

Maligne Lake Viewpoint is a 12 kilometer moderately trafficked out and back trail located near Jasper, Alberta, Canada.

Maligne Lake Viewpoint is a 12 kilometer moderately trafficked out and back trail located near Jasper, Alberta, Canada. Jasper National Park


After some acclimatisation hikes near Jasper, we headed off on our first 5 day backpacking trek onto the Berglake Trail in Mount Robson Provincial Park. We spilt up our 60km-hike over 5 days so we’d have lots of time to enjoy the scenery and to go on day hikes from the different base camps. There are seven campgrounds along the trail, each with several tent pads. Each campground comes equipped with bear-proof food storage lockers, pit toilets and grey-water pits. You won’t find any showers or flush toilets, and there are no fires allowed. You’ll have to use a camp stove for cooking. Campground reservations for each season become available on October 1 of the prior year (for instance, on October 1, 2019 reservations opened up for the 2020 hiking season).To book your reservation on the Berg Lake Trail, click here.

The Berg Lake Trail is a world-renowned backcountry hiking trail. Gaining just under 800 metres in 23 kilometres, the trail traverses three biogeoclimatic zones in the Mount Robson Provincial Park, British Columbia, Canada.

The Berg Lake Trail is a world-renowned backcountry hiking trail. Gaining just under 800 metres in 23 kilometres, the trail traverses three biogeoclimatic zones in the Mount Robson Provincial Park, British Columbia, Canada.


The Berg Lake Trail winds through old-growth cedar/hemlock forest as it follows the Robson River to Kinney Lake.

The Berg Lake Trail winds through old-growth cedar/hemlock forest as it follows the Robson River to Kinney Lake. Mount Robson Provincial Park, British Columbia, Canada.


Crossing the suspension bridge near the Whitehorn campground in the Valley of a thousand falls.

Crossing the suspension bridge near the Whitehorn campground in the Valley of a thousand falls. Mount Robson Provincial Park, British Columbia, Canada.


Our first night at Whitehorn campground in the Valley of a thousand falls.

Our first night at Whitehorn campground in the Valley of a thousand falls. Mount Robson Provincial Park, British Columbia, Canada.


Emperor Falls

Emperor Falls. Mount Robson Provincial Park, British Columbia, Canada.


Higher up along Robson River.

Higher up along Robson River. Mount Robson Provincial Park, British Columbia, Canada.


We arrived safely at Berg Lake, over!

We arrived safely at Berg Lake, over! Mount Robson Provincial Park, British Columbia, Canada.


We arrived safely at Berg Lake, let's camp!

We arrived safely at Berg Lake, let’s camp! Mount Robson Provincial Park, British Columbia, Canada.


Robson Glacier, spilling off from the northeast flank of Mount Robson!

Robson Glacier, spilling off from the northeast flank of Mount Robson! Mount Robson Provincial Park, British Columbia, Canada.


Viewpoint above Toboggan Falls, high above Berg Lake and Mount Robson!

Viewpoint above Toboggan Falls, high above Berg Lake and Mount Robson! Mount Robson Provincial Park, British Columbia, Canada.


Robson Pass camp!

Robson Pass camp Mount Robson Provincial Park, British Columbia, Canada.


Robson Pass camp!

Robson Pass camp Mount Robson Provincial Park, British Columbia, Canada.


Berg Lake reflections!

Berg Lake reflections! Mount Robson Provincial Park, British Columbia, Canada.


Near Marmot campsite. Berg Lake.

Near Marmot campsite. Berg Lake. Mount Robson Provincial Park, British Columbia, Canada.


Playing in Kinney Lake.

Playing in Kinney Lake. Mount Robson Provincial Park, British Columbia, Canada.


Bed time.

Bed time. Mount Robson Provincial Park, British Columbia, Canada.


Kinney Lake in the morning light.

Kinney Lake in the morning light. Mount Robson Provincial Park, British Columbia, Canada.


There are many hiking and backpacking trips to pick from in the stunning Jasper National Park. The Tonquin Valley’s scenery is unrivalled. The trail takes you into one of Canada’s premiere alpine regions, a unique combination of barren peaks, ghostly ice and fertile lakes. The valley is popular for its stunning views of Amethyst Lake at the base of the Ramparts mountain range. It’s famous for its variety of wildlife, which includes grizzlies, black bears, and mountain caribou. It does also have a reputation for its muddiness and an abundance of mosquitoes, so be prepared for a bit of everything.

We hiked to the Wates-Gibson Hut and stayed over for 2 nights. Altough it was peak season in the mid of July we didn’t see any other tourist during our 3 days in the Tonquin Valley!

Well deserved rest at Chrome Lake, after hiking for hours through rain, snow and a thunder storm.

Well deserved rest at Chrome Lake, after hiking for hours through rain, snow and a thunder storm. Tonquin Valley trail, Jasper National Park


Tonquin Valley map, Jasper National Park

Tonquin Valley map, Jasper National Park, Alberta, Canada. Map from Alpine Club of Canada.


Crossing the plains of stunning Eremite valley.

Crossing the plains of stunning Eremite valley.. Tonquin Valley trail, Jasper National Park


Afternoon coffee!

Afternoon coffee at the Wates-Gibson Hut Hut! Tonquin Valley trail, Jasper National Park


Wates-Gibson Hut Hut!

The cosy and comfortable Wates-Gibson Hut Hut in the Eremite valley! Tonquin Valley trail, Jasper National Park


Lunch at Amethyst Lake!

Lunch at Amethyst Lake. Tonquin Valley trail, Jasper National Park


Eremite Valley. Jasper National Park.

Eremite Valley. Tonquin Valley trail, Jasper National Park


Wildfire haze spills over the Ramparts Range in the morning light.

Wildfire haze spills over the Ramparts Range in the morning light. Tonquin Valley trail, Jasper National Park


Wildfire haze spills over the Ramparts Range in the morning light.

Wildfire haze spills over the Ramparts Range in the morning light. So we continue our Tonquin Valley trail, Jasper National Park


Selfie!

The Ramparts Range, Jasper National Park



On the next update we will take you on our 5 day trek on the 80km loop over the Brazeau Plateau. The “grand tour” of the southern ranges, this circuit includes one of the park’s largest backcountry lakes, two passes and an extraordinary alpine traverse with glaciated peaks, lush wildflowers and a variety of wildlife.

Nap timezzzzzz!

Nap timezzzzzz, Brazeau Plateau, Jasper National Park


Lotta goes Canada (video)

A quick update before we leave on a 45-day backpacking trip to Patagonia with both kids.

Pictures are not ready yet, but here is a backpacking video trip report from the hot summer of 2017 in the Canadian Rockies…

How to pack a backpack with a 9 month old baby, a tipi tent, diapers and food for a trek in the wild of Swedish Lapland.

Yesterday is gone. Tomorrow has not yet come. We have only today. Let us begin.” M. Theresa

Boooo! That’s long time, no see! But once in a while we throw a log onto the blog fire. We welcomed our son Bosse into the family in the summer of 2018. Whoop whoop!

Today we flashback you into Lotta’s adventure she took in july/august of 2016. At 9 months old she was big and strong enough a baby to sit up straight in a Thule Sapling. We backpacked between Kvikkjokk and Abisko, in, around, up, above the Kungsleden for about 280kms, including all side trips and side explorations into Sarek NP. Most of the time we made a bivaouc in the sturdy, spacious and light Nigor WickiUp4 tipi, other nights we stayed over at the comfortable STF huts, where we could resupply and wash up. We had organised a poste restante with diapers and extra food at SALTOLUOKTA fjallstation.

As explained before, we layered the baby up during the night with as many merino wool layers as necessary and a merino wool sleeping bag, as we did in Patagonia.

We are happy with the merino wool products from Danish Joha and German Reiff.

The baby did not sleep on an inflated sleeping mattres, because of suffocation danger. Her sleeping mat was the Thermarest Z-lite Sol closed-cell mattress. We buttoned a hooded hat to keep her head and body warm during the night. Breast feeding kept her nourished and healthy.

We choosed to use washable diapers with a biodisposable inlay like the G diaper system. It worked very well because on a maximum of 3-4 days in between, we crossed into an STF hut with pit toilets in which we could dump the used inlays and wash the outer protection panties.

We leave you with a video impression and some snapshots:



A bivaouc spot in the woods near Abiskojaure.

A bivaouc spot in the woods near Abiskojaure. Abisko National Park. Swedish Lapland.


Another bivaouc spot in the Abisko National Park. Swedish Lapland.

Another bivaouc spot in the Abisko National Park. Swedish Lapland.


Investigating a reindeer antler on an exploration high above the Torneträsk lake. Abisko. Swedish Lapland.

Investigating a reindeer antler on an exploration high above the Torneträsk lake. Abisko. Swedish Lapland.


Minutes before the thunder storm came in. Kungsleden. Alesjaure. Swedish Lapland.

Minutes before the thunder storm came in. Kungsleden. Alesjaure. Swedish Lapland.


A hot day in the north. Kungsleden. Alesjaure. Swedish Lapland.

A hot day in the north. Kungsleden. Alesjaure. Swedish Lapland.


After a good night's sleep. Kungsleden. Alesjaure. Swedish Lapland.

After a good night’s sleep. Kungsleden. Alesjaure. Swedish Lapland.


Vistasvagge . Swedish Lapland.

Backpacking through the Vistasvagge. Kebnekaise. Swedish Lapland.


Enjoying baby supper, high above the Stuor Reaiddavaggi dalen. Swedish Lapland.

Enjoying baby supper, high above the Stuor Reaiddavaggi dalen. Swedish Lapland.


Enjoying baby supper, but from a higher view angle. Notice the Nigor WickiUp4 tipi high above the Stuor Reaiddavaggi dalen. Swedish Lapland.

Enjoying baby supper, but from a higher view angle. Notice our Nigor WickiUp4 tipi high above the Stuor Reaiddavaggi dalen? Swedish Lapland.


We just left the Nallostugan and Lotta is already on a nap. Kebnekaise. Swedish Lapland.

We just left the Nallostugan and Lotta is already on a nap. Kebnekaise. Swedish Lapland.


Dusk at Nallostugan. Kebnekaisefjell. Swedish Lapland.

Dusk at Nallostugan . Kebnekaisefjell. Swedish Lapland.


Food fight at Nallostugan. Kebnekaisefjell. Swedish Lapland.

Food fight at Nallostugan . Kebnekaisefjell. Swedish Lapland.




Windy at Singi! Kebnekaisefjell. Swedish Lapland.

Windy at Singi! Kebnekaisefjell. Swedish Lapland.


Somewhere on the Kungsleden south of Singi! Kebnekaisefjell. Swedish Lapland.

Somewhere on the Kungsleden south of Singi! Kebnekaisefjell. Swedish Lapland.


Crossing a high plateau! Stora Sjöfallet National Park. Swedish Lapland.

Crossing a high plateau. Stora Sjöfallet National Park. Swedish Lapland.


Oral hygiene. Check! Stora Sjöfallet National Park. Swedish Lapland.

Oral hygiene. Check! Stora Sjöfallet National Park. Swedish Lapland.


Da! Da! Daaaaaa! (transl. Gimme that camera now)! Stora Sjöfallet National Park. Swedish Lapland.

Da! Da! Daaaaaa! (transl. Gimme that camera now)! Stora Sjöfallet National Park. Swedish Lapland.


No words. Stora Sjöfallet National Park. Swedish Lapland.

No words. Stora Sjöfallet National Park. Swedish Lapland.


Watch the weather change. Dusk at Sitojaure. Swedish Lapland.

Watch the weather change. Dusk at Sitojaure. Swedish Lapland.


While you we're sleeping. Kungsleden through Laponia. Swedish Lapland.

While you we’re sleeping. Kungsleden through Laponia. Swedish Lapland.


 Breast feeding is the healthy baby snack. Kungsleden through Laponia. Swedish Lapland.

Breast feeding is the healthy baby snack. Laponia. Swedish Lapland.


Early morningunder the canvas. Laponia. Swedish Lapland.

Early morningunder the canvas. Laponia. Swedish Lapland.


Laitaure lake with Skierfe towering above. Sarek NP. Laponia. Swedish Lapland.

Laitaure lake with Skierfe towering above. Sarek NP. Laponia. Swedish Lapland.


I hate sunscreen. Sarek NP. Laponia. Swedish Lapland.

I hate sunscreen. Sarek NP. Laponia. Swedish Lapland.


A girl and her balloon. Sarek NP. Laponia. Swedish Lapland.

A girl and her balloon. Sarek NP. Laponia. Swedish Lapland.


 In Rapavalley there is a mountain called Nammásj.  Sarek NP. Laponia. Swedish Lapland.

In Rapavalley there is a mountain called Nammásj. Sarek NP. Laponia. Swedish Lapland.


 It's not the beach, but hey, it's sunny and the view is nice! Sarek NP. Laponia. Swedish Lapland.

It’s not the beach, but hey, it’s sunny and the view is nice! Sarek NP. Laponia. Swedish Lapland.


 It's quite quiet, so let's shout! Sarek NP. Laponia. Swedish Lapland.

It’s quite quiet, so let’s shout! Sarek NP. Laponia. Swedish Lapland.


 Keekaboo! Sarek NP. Laponia. Swedish Lapland.

Keekaboo! Sarek NP. Laponia. Swedish Lapland.


 Rainy smiles! Sarek NP. Laponia. Swedish Lapland.

Rainy smiles! Sarek NP. Laponia. Swedish Lapland.


 This is what they call a washed out trail! Sarek NP. Laponia. Swedish Lapland.

This is what they call a washed out trail! Sarek NP. Laponia. Swedish Lapland.


Patagonia – baby Lotta’s 7 week backpacking adventure (part 3)

Lotta has big sister duties coming up… so time to give this blog an update before new adventures swallow us up. Let’s finish the trip report from our 45-day baby backpacking trip in Patagonia March-April 2016.

Read part 1 here
Read part 2 here

Big sister duties coming up (summer 2018)... Plitvice Lakes National Park on a 10 day hiking trip, Croatia, april 2018

Big sister duties coming up (summer 2018)… Plitvice Lakes National Park on a 10 day hiking trip, Croatia, april 2018

On the previous update we left you somewhere on the Ruta 40 in Southern Argentina. We just finished an overnight trek in the remote eastern corners of the Patagonia Park. Not a soul on sight, but hopefully this will change very soon. So please put the park on your bucket list!

During the 45 days in Patagonia we did a total of 6 multiday treks and several dayhikes. The longest trek was a 5 night/6day trek in NP Nahuel Huapi, which you can read in part 1. Backpacking/trekking with a baby comes with some logistics, but nothing we could not tackle. Clue is keeping the baby warm, hydrated and nourished(breastfeeding), away from direct sunlight and safe. Lotta was hanging in a sling on the first 20 days of the trip, but she grew out of it, so we changed into a baby carrier for the remainder of the treks. Don’t overdress the baby while hiking/backpacking because they absorb a lot of body heat from the moving mother/father.

During the night we layered her up with as many merino wool layers as necessary and a merino wool sleeping bag. The baby did not sleep on an inflated sleeping mattres, because of suffocation danger. Her sleeping mat was the Thermarest Z-lite Sol closed-cell mattress. We buttoned a hooded hat to keep her head and body warm during the night.

We packed in and out all (used) diapers, so it is really necesary to go for the backpacking light approach, because logistics would be almost impossible for a 6 day trek with the three of us. After this Patagonia trip we changed the classic diaper system to a biodisposable diapers system like the G diaper system, because the 30-day trek we did in the European summer of 2016 in Swedish Lapland would have been impossible. More details on that on the next blog update.

After a good night’s rest bivaouc spot in the canes besides Lago Chico. Patagonia Park. Aysén Region, Patagonia, Chile.

After a good night’s rest at a bivaouc spot in the canes besides Lago Chico. Patagonia Park. Aysén Region, Patagonia, Chile.

Approaching the Fitz Roy massif from the Ruta 40, Santa Cruz Province, Patagonia, Argentina.

Approaching the Fitz Roy massif from the Ruta 40, Santa Cruz Province, Patagonia, Argentina.

El Chaltén was named Argentina's Trekking Capital or Capital Nacional del Trekking. Today the sole reason for its existence is tourism. In 1985, Argentina and Chile had a border dispute to gain and claim rights over El Chalten. There was no conflict in the end, and El Chalten was earned and rewarded to Argentina. Homes, government buildings, and flags of Argentina went up to mark the city settlement. El Chalten, Santa Cruz Province, Patagonia, Argentina.

El Chaltén was named Argentina’s Trekking Capital or Capital Nacional del Trekking. Today the sole reason for its existence is tourism. In 1985, Argentina and Chile had a border dispute to gain and claim rights over El Chalten. There was no conflict in the end, and El Chalten was earned and rewarded to Argentina. Homes, government buildings, and flags of Argentina went up to mark the city settlement. El Chalten, Santa Cruz Province, Patagonia, Argentina.

Organizing food ratios for a 3 night trek in the northern part of Los Glaciares National Park, Patagonia, Argentina.

Organizing food ratios for a 4 day / 3 night trek in the northern part of Los Glaciares National Park, Patagonia, Argentina.

Towards the Chilean border on the first day on a 4 day / 3 night trek in the northern part of Los Glaciares National Park, Lago del Desierto, Patagonia, Argentina.

Towards the Chilean border on the first day on a 4 day / 3 night trek in the northern part of Los Glaciares National Park, Lago del Desierto, Patagonia, Argentina.

Lago del Desierto, Patagonia, Argentina.

Outdoor daddy, bivaouc in the lenga forrest, Lago del Desierto, Patagonia, Argentina.

Lago del Desierto, Patagonia, Argentina.

Autumn breeze, second day of a 4 day trek around Lago del Desierto, Patagonia, Argentina.

Detachment of the Gendarmería Nacional de Argentina, Lago del Desierto close to the Chilean border, Patagonia, Argentina.

Detachment of the Gendarmería Nacional de Argentina, Lago del Desierto close to the Chilean border, Patagonia, Argentina.

Undulating backpacking around Lago del Desierto close to the Chilean border, Patagonia, Argentina.

Undulating backpacking around Lago del Desierto close to the Chilean border, Patagonia, Argentina.

A rain cover protects baby Lotta around the baby Manduca carrier, Lago del Desierto close to the Chilean border, Patagonia, Argentina.

A rain cover protects baby Lotta around the baby Manduca carrier, Lago del Desierto close to the Chilean border, Patagonia, Argentina.

A rainy rest stop on the trail, day 2 out of 4, NP Los Glaciares, Lago del Desierto close to the Chilean border, Patagonia, Argentina.

A rainy rest stop on the trail, day 2 out of 4, NP Los Glaciares, Lago del Desierto close to the Chilean border, Patagonia, Argentina.

A rainy rest stop on the trail, day 2 out of 4, NP Los Glaciares, Lago del Desierto close to the Chilean border, Patagonia, Argentina.

A rainy rest stop on the trail, day 2 out of 4, NP Los Glaciares, Lago del Desierto close to the Chilean border, Patagonia, Argentina.

A tiny bridge over the Rio de las Vueltas, day 2 out of 4, NP Los Glaciares, Lago del Desierto close to the Chilean border, Patagonia, Argentina.

A tiny bridge over the Rio de las Vueltas, day 2 out of 4, NP Los Glaciares, Patagonia, Argentina.

Negotiationg a muddy section on day 2 of the trek, NP Los Glaciares, Patagonia, Argentina.

Negotiationg a muddy section on day 2 of the trek, NP Los Glaciares, Patagonia, Argentina.

All peace and quiet in the Valle del río Eléctrico, day 2 of the trek, NP Los Glaciares, Patagonia, Argentina.

All peace and quiet in the Valle del río Eléctrico, day 3 of the trek, NP Los Glaciares, Patagonia, Argentina.

Route planning, day 3 of the trek, NP Los Glaciares, Patagonia, Argentina.

Route planning, day 3 of the trek, NP Los Glaciares, Patagonia, Argentina.

Good morning, this morning, day 3 of the trek, NP Los Glaciares, Patagonia, Argentina.

Good morning, this morning, day 3 of the trek, NP Los Glaciares, Patagonia, Argentina.

Classic viewport, day 3 of the trek, NP Los Glaciares, Patagonia, Argentina.

Classic viewport, day 3 of the trek, NP Los Glaciares, Patagonia, Argentina.

Where do we go from here?, day 3 of the trek, NP Los Glaciares, Patagonia, Argentina.

Where do we go from here?, day 3 of the trek, NP Los Glaciares, Patagonia, Argentina.

Laguna Capri by night, NP Los Glaciares, Patagonia, Argentina.

Laguna Capri by night, NP Los Glaciares, Patagonia, Argentina.

Fresh morning after a windy night at Laguna Capri, day 4, NP Los Glaciares, Patagonia, Argentina.

Fresh morning after a windy night at Laguna Capri, day 4, NP Los Glaciares, Patagonia, Argentina.

Alpenglow on Loma del Pliegue Tumbado and Cerro Huemul, as seen from Laguna Capri, day 4, NP Los Glaciares, Patagonia, Argentina.

Alpenglow on Loma del Pliegue Tumbado and Cerro Huemul, as seen from Laguna Capri, day 4, NP Los Glaciares, Patagonia, Argentina.

Morning alpenglow on Cerro Fitz Roy never dissapoints, as seen from Laguna Capri, day 4, NP Los Glaciares, Patagonia, Argentina.

Morning alpenglow on Cerro Fitz Roy (3359m) never dissapoints, as seen from Laguna Capri (770m), day 4, NP Los Glaciares, Patagonia, Argentina.

Magellanic woodpecker on a lenga tree next to our tent, Laguna Capri, day 4, NP Los Glaciares, Patagonia, Argentina.

Magellanic woodpecker on a lenga tree next to our tent, Laguna Capri, day 4, NP Los Glaciares, Patagonia, Argentina.

We will be back soon, day 4, NP Los Glaciares, Patagonia, Argentina.

NP Los Glaciares, Patagonia, Argentina.

Patagonia – baby Lotta’s 7 week backpacking adventure (part 2)

Wow. Another year flashed by. The blog is slowly burning, but still alive. So I continue where I left you readers 5 months ago. This is another visual blog. There is little time to write a lot of prose, so here we go…

Read part 1 here
Read part 3 here

Descending the rim of Volcan Chaitén, Prov. de Palena, X Región de Los Lagos, Patagonia, Chile.

Descending the rim of Volcan Chaitén, Prov. de Palena, X Región de Los Lagos, Patagonia, Chile.



Parque Pumalín was Chile's largest private nature reserve and operated as a public-access park, with an extensive infrastructure of trails, campgrounds, and visitor centers. By an accord announced on 18 March 2017, the park was gifted to the Chilean state and consolidated with another 4,000,000 ha (9,884,215 acres) to become part of South America's largest national park, X Región de Los Lagos, Patagonia, Chile.

Parque Pumalín was Chile’s largest private nature reserve and operated as a public-access park, with an extensive infrastructure of trails, campgrounds, and visitor centers. By an accord announced on 18 March 2017, the park was gifted to the Chilean state and consolidated with another 4,000,000 ha (9,884,215 acres) to become part of South America’s largest national park, X Región de Los Lagos, Patagonia, Chile.

Puyuhuapi (Puyuguapi) is a village located on Route 7, the Carretera Austral, where the Rio Pascal enters the head of the Puyuhuapi fjord, a small fjord off the Ventisquero Sound, XI Aysén Region, Patagonia, Chile.

Puyuhuapi (Puyuguapi) is a village located on Route 7, the Carretera Austral, where the Rio Pascal enters the head of the Puyuhuapi fjord, a small fjord off the Ventisquero Sound, XI Aysén Region, Patagonia, Chile.

The Queulat Hanging Glacier along the Carretera Austral, XI Aysén Region, Patagonia, Chile.

The Queulat Hanging Glacier along the Carretera Austral, XI Aysén Region, Patagonia, Chile.

The Carretera Austral (CH-7, in english: Southern Way) is the name given to Chile's Route 7. The highway runs about 1240 kilometers (770 mi) from Puerto Montt to Villa O'Higgins through rural Patagonia. These areas are sparsely populated and despite its length, Carretera Austral provides access to only about 100.000 people. The highway began as almost entirely unpaved, but more sections are becoming paved each year. As of January 2017, the paved road ends at Villa Cerro Castillo, with roadworks going on just south of there.

The Carretera Austral (CH-7, in english: Southern Way) is the name given to Chile’s Route 7. The highway runs about 1240 kilometers (770 mi) from Puerto Montt to Villa O’Higgins through rural Patagonia. These areas are sparsely populated and despite its length, Carretera Austral provides access to only about 100.000 people. The highway began as almost entirely unpaved, but more sections are becoming paved each year. As of January 2017, the paved road ends at Villa Cerro Castillo, with roadworks going on just south of there.

A day hike in the Queulat National Park along the Carretera Austral, XI Aysén Region, Patagonia, Chile.

A day hike in the Queulat National Park along the Carretera Austral, XI Aysén Region, Patagonia, Chile.

Starting our trek on a rancho at the gates of The Cerro Castillo National Reserve, where the melting of glaciers, gives life to the trails and valleys that today make up this reserve. Its untamed nature reflects the natural, geological and volcanological changes that this region has experienced for centuries, XI Aysén Region, Patagonia, Chile.

Starting our trek on a rancho at the gates of The Cerro Castillo National Reserve, where the melting of glaciers, gives life to the trails and valleys that today make up this reserve. Its untamed nature reflects the natural, geological and volcanological changes that this region has experienced for centuries, XI Aysén Region, Patagonia, Chile.

Through the lenga forrest of The Cerro Castillo National Reserve, Aysén Region, Patagonia, Chile.

Through the lenga forrest of The Cerro Castillo National Reserve, Aysén Region, Patagonia, Chile.

Peek through towards the castles of Cerro Castillo National Reserve, Aysén Region, Patagonia, Chile.

Peek through towards the castles of Cerro Castillo National Reserve, Aysén Region, Patagonia, Chile.

Setting up camp at campamento Neozelandés in Cerro Castillo National Reserve, Aysén Region, Patagonia, Chile.

Setting up camp at campamento Neozelandés in Cerro Castillo National Reserve, Aysén Region, Patagonia, Chile.

Breakfast in sub-zero degrees at campamento Neozelandés in Cerro Castillo National Reserve, Aysén Region, Patagonia, Chile.

Breakfast in sub-zero degrees at campamento Neozelandés in Cerro Castillo National Reserve, Aysén Region, Patagonia, Chile.

Hiding from a chilly breeze at some tarns high above the campamento Neozelandés in Cerro Castillo National Reserve, Aysén Region, Patagonia, Chile.

Hiding from a chilly breeze at some tarns high above the campamento Neozelandés in Cerro Castillo National Reserve, Aysén Region, Patagonia, Chile.

Retracing towards the campamento Neozelandés in Cerro Castillo National Reserve, Aysén Region, Patagonia, Chile.

Retracing towards the campamento Neozelandés in Cerro Castillo National Reserve, Aysén Region, Patagonia, Chile.

Enjoying the waving trees in Cerro Castillo National Reserve, Aysén Region, Patagonia, Chile.

Enjoying the waving trees in Cerro Castillo National Reserve, Aysén Region, Patagonia, Chile.

Pitstop along the Carratera Austral in  Puerto Rio Tranquilo, Aysén Region, Patagonia, Chile.

Pitstop along the Carratera Austral in Puerto Rio Tranquilo, Aysén Region, Patagonia, Chile.

Enchanting colors of the General Carrera Lake (Chilean side) or Lake Buenos Aires (Argentine side) is a lake located in Patagonia and shared by Argentina and Chile. The lake has a surface of 1,850 km² of which 970 km² are in the Chilean Aysén Region, and 880 km² in the Argentine Santa Cruz Province, making it the biggest lake in Chile, and the fourth largest in Argentina. In December 2015, Doug Tompkins died on a  kayaking accident when strong waves caused their kayaks to capsize in this lake. In the 1990s Tompkins and his second wife, Kris McDivitt Tompkins bought and conserved over 2 million acres (810,000 ha) of wilderness in Chile and Argentina, more than any other private individuals in the region, thus becoming among the largest private land-owners in the world.The Tompkinses were focused on park creation, wildlife recovery, ecological agriculture, and activism, with the goal of saving biodiversity.

Enchanting colors on the General Carrera Lake (Chilean side) or Lake Buenos Aires (Argentine side). This lake is shared by Argentina and Chile. The lake has a surface of 1,850 km² of which 970 km² are in the Chilean Aysén Region, and 880 km² in the Argentine Santa Cruz Province, making it the biggest lake in Chile, and the fourth largest in Argentina. In December 2015, Doug Tompkins died on a kayaking accident when strong waves caused their kayaks to capsize in this lake. In the 1990s Tompkins and his second wife, Kris McDivitt Tompkins bought and conserved over 2 million acres (810,000 ha) of wilderness in Chile and Argentina, more than any other private individuals in the region, thus becoming among the largest private land-owners in the world.The Tompkinses were focused on park creation, wildlife recovery, ecological agriculture, and activism, with the goal of saving biodiversity.


A ground drop on the watercourse, of over 10 meters high, creates a huge waterfall and a sharp contrast between the turquoise waters of Baker River and the milky waters of Nef River. Nef river has an extension of approximately 30 kilometers, from its birth at Campos de Hielo Norte (Northern Ice Fields) to its mouth at Baker River. Through its course, the river is fed by inflows from the glaciers and snowy mountains, which gives its waters a particularly milky color. Baker River, in turn, stands out for its 200 kilometers of turquoise waters that are born at the drainage of Bertrand Lake, and flow into the sea, next to Caleta Tortel. It is the most abundant river in Chile, with an average flow of 870 cubic meters per second. Aysén Region, Patagonia, Chile.

A ground drop on the watercourse, of over 10 meters high, creates a huge waterfall and a sharp contrast between the turquoise waters of Baker River and the milky waters of Nef River. Nef river has an extension of approximately 30 kilometers, from its birth at Campos de Hielo Norte (Northern Ice Fields) to its mouth at Baker River. Through its course, the river is fed by inflows from the glaciers and snowy mountains, which gives its waters a particularly milky color. Baker River, in turn, stands out for its 200 kilometers of turquoise waters that are born at the drainage of Bertrand Lake, and flow into the sea, next to Caleta Tortel. It is the most abundant river in Chile, with an average flow of 870 cubic meters per second. Aysén Region, Patagonia, Chile.

Some of our neighbors call Valle Chacabuco, heart of the future Patagonia National Park, the “light” of the region. Why? Its unusual landscapes—expansive grasslands in a largely forested region—have shaped a rich human history, which informs and enriches our conservation work. Prior to the 1800s, Valle Chacabuco (like most of the Aysen Region) was unknown except to the handful of nomadic native communities from Northern Patagonia. Expeditions south in the late 19th century discovered the rich grasslands of Valle Chacabuco, leading to the valley’s transformation into a vast sheep estancia. For decades, amidst land reform and shifting ownership, tens of thousands of animals grazed throughout this ecologically sensitive valley. Although ranching damaged native grasslands, in the current transition from estancia to park, Valle Chacabucois rapidly recovering.

Valle Chacabuco, heart of the future Patagonia National Park, is locally known as the “light” of the region. Why? Its unusual landscapes—expansive grasslands in a largely forested region—have shaped a rich human history, which informs and enriches the conservation work of Conservacion Patagonica. Prior to the 1800s, Valle Chacabuco (like most of the Aysen Region) was unknown except to the handful of nomadic native communities from Northern Patagonia. Expeditions south in the late 19th century discovered the rich grasslands of Valle Chacabuco, leading to the valley’s transformation into a vast sheep estancia. For decades, amidst land reform and shifting ownership, tens of thousands of animals grazed throughout this ecologically sensitive valley. Although ranching damaged native grasslands, in the current transition from estancia to park, Valle Chacabucois rapidly recovering.

We were invited to stay for 2 nights at the lodge in Valle Chacabuco by Conservacion Patagonica in exchange for photos from our previous explorations of the park. An invitation that we could not refuse. Future Patagonia National Park. Aysén Region, Patagonia, Chile.

We were invited to stay for 2 nights at the lodge in Valle Chacabuco by Conservacion Patagonica in exchange for photographic work from our previous explorations in the park. An invitation that we could not refuse. Future Patagonia National Park. Aysén Region, Patagonia, Chile.

Patagonia Park contains and protects the highest levels of biodiversity found in Chile’s Aysen region. As the park’s endemic plants restore in number, the repopulation of wildlife has followed closely behind. Home to many endangered species, such as the nationally treasured huemul deer, puma, and Andean condor, the park provides scientists and wildlife lovers alike the chance to experience these rare species first hand.

Patagonia Park contains and protects the highest levels of biodiversity found in Chile’s Aysen region. As the park’s endemic plants restore in number, the repopulation of wildlife has followed closely behind. Home to many endangered species, such as the nationally treasured huemul deer, puma, and Andean condor, the park provides scientists and wildlife lovers alike the chance to experience these rare species first hand.

 The dry steppe grasslands of Argentine Patagonia are characterized by minimal rainfall (less than 150 millimeters annually), cold, dry winds, and sandy soil. The Andes Mountains block moisture from flowing west, creating this arid area region only 200 miles from the ocean. A number of tough plants have been able to adapted to this harsh environment, including shrubs like calafate, quilembay and yaoyín, and tuft grasses like flechilla and coirón poa. These grasslands support hardy animals such as the burrowing owl, the gray fox, tuco-tuco, mara, armadillos, various eagle and hawk species, and keystone predators like the puma. A wide range of animals thrive in the more habitable outskirts of the desert and around ephemeral lakes formed from the Andes' runoff, where trees and more nutritious aqueous grasses can grow.

The dry steppe grasslands of Argentine Patagonia are characterized by minimal rainfall (less than 150 millimeters annually), cold, dry winds, and sandy soil. The Andes Mountains block moisture from flowing west, creating this arid area region. A number of tough plants have been able to adapted to this harsh environment, including shrubs like calafate, quilembay and yaoyín, and tuft grasses like flechilla and coirón poa. These grasslands support hardy animals such as the burrowing owl, the gray fox, tuco-tuco, mara, armadillos, various eagle and hawk species, and keystone predators like the puma. A wide range of animals thrive in the more habitable outskirts of the desert and around ephemeral lakes formed from the Andes’ runoff, where trees and more nutritious aqueous grasses can grow.

Members of the camelid family, guanacos are the southern relative of the llama—and both of them are South American cousins to true camels. These animals live in arid, mountainous regions of Peru, Bolivia, Chile and Argentina.  The name guanaco comes from the Quechua word wanaku.  Although far more difficult to domesticate than llamas, guanacos have been hunted for meat, wool, and skins for centuries. Today, their population has dropped to around 500,000, with of 90% of that in the steppes of Argentina.

Members of the camelid family, guanacos are the southern relative of the llama—and both of them are South American cousins to true camels. These animals live in arid, mountainous regions of Peru, Bolivia, Chile and Argentina. The name guanaco comes from the Quechua word wanaku. Although far more difficult to domesticate than llamas, guanacos have been hunted for meat, wool, and skins for centuries. Today, their population has dropped to around 500,000, with of 90% of that in the steppes of Argentina.

In the eastern sector of the Chacabuco Valley, the Lago Chico area has spectacular views of Lago Cochrane and Mt. San Lorenzo. So we decided to explore the area on an overnight trek. We would not be dissapointed!

In the eastern sector of the Chacabuco Valley, the Lago Chico area has spectacular views of Lago Cochrane and Mt. San Lorenzo. So we decided to explore the area on an overnight trek. We would not be dissapointed!

Emerging from the lenga forrest, with Mt. San Lorenzo hiding in the clouds. Patagonia Park. Aysén Region, Patagonia, Chile.

Emerging from the lenga forrest, with Mt. San Lorenzo hiding in the clouds. Patagonia Park. Aysén Region, Patagonia, Chile.

Lago Chico is something of a legend, with unusual lake-to-lake views down to the immense Lago Cochrane, across to Cerro San Lorenzo, and out into Argentina.  This spot eluded many a hiker who set out in search of the mysterious lake—until now, with the completion of a new loop trail sponsored by Patagonia Inc. Beware anyway that the trail is not signposted and sometimes you need good sight to find the trail in the high grasses! Patagonia Park. Aysén Region, Patagonia, Chile.

Lago Chico is something of a legend, with unusual lake-to-lake views down to the immense Lago Cochrane, across to Cerro San Lorenzo, and out into Argentina. This spot eluded many a hiker who set out in search of the mysterious lake—until now, with the completion of a new loop trail sponsored by Patagonia Inc. Beware anyway that the trail is not signposted and sometimes you need good sight to find the trail in the high grasses! Patagonia Park. Aysén Region, Patagonia, Chile.

Alpen glow on Mt. San Lorenzo from our bivaouc spot besides Lago Chico. Patagonia Park. Aysén Region, Patagonia, Chile.

Alpen glow on Mt. San Lorenzo from our bivaouc spot besides Lago Chico. Patagonia Park. Aysén Region, Patagonia, Chile.

Our bivaouc spot in the canes besides Lago Chico. Patagonia Park. Aysén Region, Patagonia, Chile.

Our bivaouc spot in the canes besides Lago Chico. Patagonia Park. Aysén Region, Patagonia, Chile.

Retracing through the high grasses towards Lago Cochrane. Patagonia Park. Aysén Region, Patagonia, Chile.

Retracing through the high grasses towards Lago Cochrane. Patagonia Park. Aysén Region, Patagonia, Chile.

The mighty Lago Cochrane. Patagonia Park. Aysén Region, Patagonia, Chile.

The mighty Lago Cochrane. Patagonia Park. Aysén Region, Patagonia, Chile.

The dusty backroads of the Patagonian Andes, where we drove for hours without encountering any oncoming traffic. From the Chilean border it took us 3 hours to reach the Ruta 40. Santa Cruz. Argentina.

The dusty backroads of the Patagonian Andes, where we drove for hours without encountering any oncoming traffic. From the Chilean border it took us 3 hours to reach the Ruta 40. Santa Cruz. Argentina.

On the next, and last episode we will take you south to the jagged peaks of Cerro Fitz Roy.