(the one who hurries through Patagonia, wastes time)
The Chilean Patagonian region of Aysén, has been the remotest corner of the southern cone for centuries. Only recently the region has been connected to the outside world through the construction of the Carretera Austral, a 1200 km long dirt road, connecting fishing villages in the archipelago and settlements along the Andean mountains sculptured by the reatreating Northern Patagonian Ice Field.
The Rio Ibanez basin as seen descending from the Cerro Castillo ridge. Aysen, Patagonia, Chile.
Nevertheless it remains difficult to reach and only determined tourists intrude its isolation, altough it has huge potential for any kind of adventure. And there is still a lot to be explored, to say the least. This is Patagonia at its purest. Mountains, huge glaciers, fjords, deepblue fishrich lakes, native dense forests, shy fauna and true surviving, hospitable gaucho culture.
Huemul or Andean deer. An estimated 2000 animals of this endangered deer species are left in Patagonia. We met this young, curious male while hiking through the Reserva Nacional Cerro Castillo.
Previous trips through this little inhabited region had us been rushing through on the way towards the more famous attractions in the south, but not this time. We were detemined to explore thoroughly this time. So, the last 6 weeks we have been sort of thru hiking the region by following old gaucho routes who used to be the only connection between the settlements before the Carretera Austral came.
Patagonian night. Playing by the fire…
Aysén is threatened by a plan to build five hydro-electrical dams on the Baker and the Pascua rivers, two of the purest and wildest in the world. This could become an ecological disaster, affecting ecosystems for endangered species, who already have to fight loss of habitat from huge, manmade, unnecessary forest fires in the past. Luckily their are great conservation initiaves like the new proposed Future Patagonia National Park, which has huge touristic potential, becoming a new Torres del Paine.
We leave the region, with even more ideas then before. I could write a book on the adventure and ecotouristic opportunities here. Maybe a future project 🙂
Please come here to float it’s rivers and hike its ridges. Because that is what you really can do to preserve this pristine corner of the world. Tourism is Aysén’s future and answer for conservation.
The following series of pics is our trip report from and ode to Aysén and to a Patagonia without dams. Patagonia sin Represas! Reserva de Vida! Rios libres!
Exploring a wild ridge in the Reserva Nacional Cerro Castillo. Aysen, Chilean Patagonia.
Beard lichen is omnipresent in the dense, pure Patagonian lenga forrests.
Dry them runners…
The rugged ranges and a good trail begin to attract tourists into the diverse Reserva Nacional Cerro Castillo. Aysen, Patagonia, Chile.
Approaching San Lorenzo. A huge, glaciated mountain range on the border with Argentina, and a last stop for Patagonian storms to drop their content before blowing off into the steppes. Aysen, Patagonia, Chile.
A curious Condor flies over the ridge, investigating the small moving dots in its habitat. San Lorenzo range. Aysen. Patagonia. Chile.
Glaciar d’Agostini flowing down from the San Lorenzo range. Aysen. Patagonia. Chile.
The San Lorenzo massif in all it’s glory. Aysen. Ruta de los Pilcheros. Patagonia. Chile.
Patagonian gaucho on the forgotten mountain routes of remote Aysen. Patagonia, Chile.
More beard lichen of lenga trunks.
Diversing into Argentine soil on the Ruta de los Pilcheros. Aysen, Patagonia, Chile.
Don Rial Heraldo. Patagonian gaucho, living in a far-off radar valley, deep in the Andean mountains, a 4-day horseback ride to the nearest town of Cohrane. We sip yerba mate all afternoon and can’t stop laughing with all his stories and jokes he fires at us while a storm approaches outside. Aysen, Patagonia, Chile.
Bivaouc at Don Rial’s house. Aysen, Patagonia, Chile.
Ready for crossing Lago Alegre. Aysen, Patagonia, Chile.
Over and along slabs. Lago Alegre, Aysen, Patagonia, Chile.
Dark clouds gather above the tiny church of Cochrane. Aysen, Patagonia, Chile.
Lonely guanaco in the valle Chacabuco. Future Patagonia National Park. Aysen. Chile.
A clear night in the Aviles Valley. Future Patagonia National Park. Aysen, Chile.
Hiking up north into the wild Jeinimeni Reserve. Future Patagonia National Park. Aysen, Chile.
Exploring up side valleys. Valle Hermosa. RN Jeinimeni. Future Patagonia National Park. Aysen, Chile.
Valle Hermosa. RN Jeinimeni. Future Patagonia National Park. Aysen, Chile.
Lago Verde. Valle Hermosa. RN Jeinimeni. Future Patagonia National Park. Aysen, Chile.
A shelter in the Valle Hermosa. RN Jeinimeni. Aysen, Chile.
Preparing for a float down Rio Nadis. Baker basin. Aysen, Patagonia, Chile.
Packrafting the Rio Nadis. Aysen, Patagonia, Chile.
Packrafting the Rio Nadis. Baker basin. Aysen, Chile.
Refugio Los Nadis. Baker basin. Aysen, Patagonia, Chile.
Asasdo de Cordero. Roasted Lamb. Los Nadis. Aysen, Chile.
Marking of the Calves. Los Nadis. Aysen, Chile.
Marking of the calves. Los Nadis. Aysen, Chile.
Marking of the calves. Los Nadis. Aysen, Chile.
Rancho los Nadis. Baker basin. Aysen, Chile.
The mighty Baker River. Aysen, Chile.
The boardwalks of sleepy fishing settlement Tortel. Aysen, Chile.
Sipping Mate at the Baker’s mouth in the Pacific. Aysen, Chile.
Tortel’s bay. Aysen, Chile.
For more pictures from our last 6 weeks in this remote corner of Patagonia, please click:
Sendero de Chile – RN Cerro Castillo
Ruta de los Pilcheros</a
The future Patagonia National Park
The Baker basin
Rest by the fire. Gaucho hospitality. Aysen. Chile.