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.
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 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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Pitstop along the Carratera Austral in Puerto Rio Tranquilo, Aysén Region, Patagonia, Chile.
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.
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 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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Summer has been never ending down here in the far south. So the last 4 weeks we’ve been continuing our voluntary work for Adventure and Science by exploring dense, endemic Patagonian (rain) forests, forgotten valleys and ridges and packrafted some of its threatened rivers. Some of the areas we’ve been through are luckily protected in private or public parks but huge areas are still designated, unprotected wildlands. Except for the knowledge of locals, there is a great lack of information on these areas. So we’ve been gathering data for the Pacific Biodiversity Institute which will hopefully aid in the eventual conservation of wildlands and biodiversity.
Packrafting Rio Yelcho – Region de los Lagos, Patagonia, Chile
Hiking through a drowned forrest, Reserva Nacional Lago Palena, Chilean Patagonia
In stead of writing an extensive trip report, we’ll treat you with a selection of pics from our explorations of the last weeks. Hopefully this will inspire you to come over here and hike the Patagonian forrests or float them rivers. Because tourism could be an important step towards conservation…
Rain has been pouring down the last few days, but it’s clearing up again, so time has come to continue feeding our Patagonian dreams.
Extensive, native lenga forrests on the mountains bordering the fjord-like Nahuel Huapi lake, Argentine Patagonia. From the ferry-ride towards the core of the national park, from which we started a 2-week double trans Andean trek into Chile and back into Argentina.
Balancing over fallen trees, Virgin Patagonian Lenga Forrest, Nahuel Huapi National Park, Argentina
Glaciar Frias, tumbling down from massive, extinct volcano Cerro Tronador (3491m), PN Nahuel Huapi, Argentine Patagonia
The mighty Andean Condor (wingspan 3m) flying towards Laguna Frias, Argentine Patagonia
Liolaemus lizard in the Valdivian Rain Forrest, Parque Nacional Nahuel Huapi, Patagonia, Argentina
A chilean gaucho left his gear hanging to dry. Valle Ensenada, PN Vicente Perez Rosales, Chilena Patagonia
Alvarado’s rancho in the Valle Ensenada with glaciated SW-flanks of might Cerro Tronador towering above. Valle Ensenada. Chilean Patagonia.
Gaucho flavours fill the kitchen. A fresh meal at rancho Velazquez. Valle Ensendada. PN Perez Rosales. Chilean Patagonia.
Deeply eroded horse trails betray that this now little used trail was once an important trade route over the Andes. Valle Ensenda. Chilean Patagonia.
Bivaouc at the Lago Cayutue. Volcan Puntigiado fills the horizon. PN Perez Rosales. Chilean Patagonia.
Rio Ventisquero. Rincon Bonito. Parque Pumalin. Chilean Patagonia.
Asado de Cordero. Roasted lamb. Summarizes the Patagonian kitchen. Rincon Bonito. Chilean Patagonia.
Bivaouc at Palma – Alegria rancho where we enjoy endless Patagonian hospitality. Little foreigners penetrate into these valleys so we were invited multiple times with the local farmers and immediatly accepted as if we were family. Valle del Rio Ventisquero. Chilean Patagonia.
Following a creek towards the Rio Petrohue which we were going to float towards the Pacific. Volcan Osorno rising above. Chilean Patagonia.
Taking a break along the shores of Rio Petrohue. Region de los Lagos. Chilean Patagonia.
Scouting for fallen trees and rapids in the Rio Petrohue. Chilean Patagonia.
Bivaouc on an gravel bar on an island in the Rio Yelcho. Chilean Patagonia.
Packrafting Rio Petrohue. Chilean Patagonia.
Packrafting Rio Yelcho from source to the Pacific. The river borders the Corcovado National Park. Chilean Patagonia.
The Patagonian Sky at dusk. Lenticulars betray high winds. Lago Verde. Aysen. Patagonian Chile.
Pioneers who set huge fires ablaze Patagonian valleys in the early 20th Century did not think about ecological consequences. Erosion and huge, dead trunks on higher flanks are the silent witness of human’s search for devolpment at any cost.
A small opening in the huge, virgin forrests that clad the valleys of the Lago Palena National Reserve. Aysen. Chilean Patagonia.
Bivaouc in virgin forrests at the shores of pristine Lago Palena. Chilean Patagonia.
Patagonian sky at night from the shores of Laguna Quitro right in the core of the Lago Palena National Reserve. Chilean Patagonia.
Bivaouc where Rio Quintro drains its namesake lake. Lago Palena National Reserve. Chilean Patagonia.
End of the summer as we know it. Valle Rio Azul. Alto Palena. Chilean Patagonia.
Have you wandered in the wilderness, the sagebrush desolation,
The bunch-grass levels where the cattle graze?
Have you whistled bits of rag-time at the end of all creation,
And learned to know the desert’s little ways?
Have you camped upon the foothills, have you galloped o’er the ranges,
Have you roamed the arid sun-lands through and through?
Have you chummed up with the mesa? Do you know its moods and changes?
Then listen to the Wild — it’s calling you. The Call of the Wild by Robert W. Service
For more pictures of the last 4 weeks mainly in Chilean Patagonia please click: