Camping is free except during the high season. Important tips and resources for planning an incredible trip to Patagonia, based on our extensive experience travelling through the entire region. The hike starts off in a lush rainforest, passes a river and leads through a steep climb up with incredible views of the valley along the way. to do the shorter hike to a viewpoint of the glacier instead. Only one main road, the Carretera Austral scenic highway, goes through the park and majority of the trails and campsites have been created along this highway. Pumalin Lush rainforest, waterfalls, snow capped mountains, smoking volcanoes, glaciers and jaw dropping beauty. Unfortunately for folks that don’t have a car on this leg of the journey, the Pumalín region does not make it easier for them. It's where the snowcapped Andes Mountains tumble spectacularly into … Each step a different height, the forest thins, until all that surrounds us is the ghost-like remains of tree trunks. There are only around 2 ferries each week, even at the height of the season so you must book ahead, especially if you have a vehicle. There is a closer starting point from the Ventisquero Amarillo campsite to this trail but you need a 4×4 to get there. We didn’t do the full trail instead opting for a shorter route for views of the glacier without killing our already weary legs. The trailhead is located right across from the Caleto Gonzalo ranger station. The Argentinian Lake District is a short distance from Pumalin Park and well worth a diversion. As an Amazon Associate we earn from qualifying purchases. Get a copy of the, If you want to explore Patagonia in a rental car, make sure to book in advance. The trail ends next to Volcán Chaitén that we could ACTUALLY see smoking and evaporating steam a few hundred feet away from us. All of the trails at Pumalín Park … The fine sandy beach is a perfect place to unwind after a tough hike. found. Both parks are open all year, however, October through April are the best months to visit, as those are the warmer, more travel-friendly times with ample daylight. There are two ferry companies operating from Hornopirén: Transportes Austral and Somarco. The trail is 20 kilometres long and takes at least 6 hours so one of the full-day hikes in Pumalin Park. We took a few photos of it and used that as the main guide along with Maps.me and iOverlander apps. But this trail is 12 miles long and we opted Learn how your comment data is processed. The panoramic views from this hike are just mind blowing! During our time in Pumalín, we met a gentleman Nicholas from Chaitur tour company as he was taking visitors around on different tours and hikes in the region. The Sendero #4 Cascadas Escondidas is another popular hike in Pumalin since the trail starts right at a campsite. Basic facilities near rivers and a native forest. Pumalin Park, a vast private park in Chile's northern Chaiten region created by American conservationist Douglas Tompkins, is an unrivaled way to experience the best this natural wonderland has to offer, balancing off–the–beaten path adventure with upscale comfort. Unfortunately, only few are left today, as they have been deforested radically since colonization, and … We traded our office desks for a life on the road in search of the next great adventure. Again, if you don’t have your own transport, hitching is the best option if you miss the daily bus leaving Chaiten for Caleta Gonzalo each morning. A remarkable forest-conservation effort, stretching from near Hornopirén to south of Chaitén, Parque Nacional Pumalín attracts international visitors in great numbers. Perhaps an honest mistake but take care anyway. 4.5k. But good news for backpackers and bikers– if you don’t have a car, you can hop on a ferry the same day or next at the latest! The campsite costs 6000 Chilean pesos (around $9 USD) per person per night and the camping areas are scattered through the site in forest clearings. Oh no. park. We live & travel full-time in our DIY Sprinter van conversion, Baloo. It’s more of a stroll than a hike but a good way to limber up the leg muscles before the next hike – which we did on the same day. If you’re planning a trip into southern Chile, don’t skip it! Especially if you travel between December and February. Travelers will paddle between huge granite walls and waterfalls that plunge into the ocean and see plenty of austral dolphins, sea lions and endemic bird species. With some of Patagonia’s most beautiful hikes, trails and even a smouldering volcano, it’s unlikely to lose popularity anytime soon. Wine tours are a staple way to spend a Sunday and one of the most popular regions to visit is Colchagua, around two and a half hours south of Santiago, a valley known for its deep, peppery Carménère, the ubiquitous Chilean grape. Of the 12 trails that are available in the park, trails #1-#8 are located in the northern part and trails #9-#12 are located in the southern part. stations also sell paper maps, but we didn’t really feel that one was necessary. Here’s our guide to Pumalín National Park covering all the top hikes to do at Pumalín, best campsites to stay at, how to get there and more: Before heading into Pumalín National Park, frankly, I didn’t know much about it. Some overlanders have experienced double charging in some of the shops. Doug later donated the protected lands back to Chile. Most of the campsites (but importantly not all), are accessible in your car or camper van. But Doug didn’t just buy a camper van and go off to travel the world like us. We visited Pumalín Park in February 2019 and it was still free We started the El Mirador hike from Grande camping area and followed along a wide road for 1.2 miles until we reached the trail turnoff point that leads to the glacier viewpoint. Give us a like on Facebook or follow us on Instagram. Rolling hills, lush fields bursting with corn and potato harvests and remote, deserted beaches. Open year-round, those who visit must comply with certain environmental standards in order to keep this natural paradise intact for future generations. Every outdoors enthusiast dreams of traveling to Patagonia, Pumalín is also one of the latest additions on Chile’s National Park list and quite possibly one of the nicest parks we’ve ever been to. It is also one of the most accessible treks starting near the dock where the ferry drops off all new arriving visitors. This is not an official campsite but many people set up their tents around the beach. Tip: The ranger station at Caleta Gonzalo entrance has a huge map on the wall with locations and names of all the trails and campsites. The Alerce The scenery is pretty unreal and the vibrant colors add a Mars-like feel to it. These hikes range anywhere from 30 minutes to 10+ hour long hikes. and one of those changes could be the increase in park fees that the visitors There are many things to do, from hiking, cycling, canoeing, fishing and much more. For more info, please check our disclosure page. Chaiten town and the surrounding Pumalin Park were badly affected by falling volcanic ash, and the area was closed for a couple of years. While crossing the river isn’t difficult, bear in mind the river gets a little higher later in the day (so on your return trip) as the midday sun melts the snow. For example, a private pitch with a covered cooking area at Camping Ventisquero is CLP 16000 for the pitch. Let’s hope the glacier is still there then! The beach has public restrooms (with cold showers) and best of all – it’s free! A radical idea at the time that was met with quite the opposition and skepticism especially from the local landowners. The park is really well maintained and has lots of beautiful camping areas, restrooms and even showers, although icy cold. At one point we passed what was supposed to be an overlook of the Michinmahuida volcano in the distance but the overlook was completely obstructed by trees and we couldn’t see anything at all. If you want to reserve the ferry tickets ahead of time, you can do that on their websites. The Volcán Chaitén trail does not have a campsite at the base of it but there are two amazing camping options nearby. I drove through the entire park… This is rural Patagonian Chile at its finest. For hotels, use. In 2018 the Tompkins Foundation donated Pumalín Park to the State of Chile adding to that growing list. The forest here is humid, so reaching each waterfall is a refreshing break on the uphill hike. If anyone has visited this park since then, we would love to hear of the new changes in the comments below! We ended up shipping our van on this ferry and it was one of the messiest experiences we had in South America, almost as hard as shipping our van from Panama to Colombia. But there’s no guarantee there’ll be space or even that it’ll run every day. If you have any questions about Patagonia, travelling in a vehicle or even building a campervan, contact us by email at [email protected]. descriptive names. Another awesome camping spot nearby the Volcán Chaitén hike is the Santa Barbara beach. Take care, wear sensible shoes and bring a raincoat. Getting there | The start of the trail is about 24 kilometres north of Chaiten town and parking is available. The closest camping spot is Cascada Escondida campsite around 1.5 miles south. take the 5-hour ferry to Caleta Gonzalo – this includes disembarking at Leptepu where all onboard vehicles drive in convoy to Fiordo Largo for the final ferry crossing. English is widely spoken in the major tourist towns in the south, like El Calafate, El Chalten and Puerto Natales. It still smoulders. For more information on trails and full-day hikes in Pumalin Park, check out the official website here. The owner will even bring you fresh home-baked bread each morning. In the northern part, we hiked all of the trails except for two. Chiloe Island is a 4-hour ferry ride away from Chaiten. They are these tall ancient trees, one of the largest and long-lived species on Earth, that can be up to 4000 years old. The closest campspot to the Alerce trail is the Cascada Escondida campsite about 1 mile south. Now getting to Pumalin Park is easy, though a mini-adventure. Camping in Pumalin Park costs around CLP 6000 per person. The northern gateway to Chilean Patagonia, Pumalin Park is an outdoor lovers playground. Duration | It took us about 3 hours all told but we stopped a lot for photos and to cool off in the spray. A creepy-crawly spa! Punta Del Lago trail starts at the Lago Negro campsite. Try to learn Spanish or at the very least have some basic phrases. Because there is nothing that we like more than doing things a bit differently and finding amazing places that often get overlooked. The volcano feels very much alive from the top. Although the posted hours for the mini market were from 8:30-10:30 am and 5:00-7:00 pm, the few times I went down there it was closed during the posted hours. The trail leads to two different waterfalls. Fires are prohibited in the park. first 15 minutes the hike passes a few gorgeous waterfall viewpoints and then As an effort to preserve the Alerce trees from extinction it is now illegal to cut down this type of a tree. Individual spots in the community area cost $6000 Chilean pesos ($9 USD) per person. Parts of the trail were pretty treacherous because it was so wet. The citizens of Chaiten have since returned and the park trails re-opened. The forest here was the most wonderful we saw in Patagonia. A lot of backpackers and bikers make Cascada Escondida campsite sort of the home base and walk (or catch a ride) to the Tronador trail to hike it. Your email address will not be published. Potholes are deep, giant rhubarb lines the route and around every corner is another completely stunning view. Park rangers, passing tour buses and even especially kind people in camper vans will make sure you’re not left out in the cold. We visited in December, so early in the season. The Rio Gonzalo campsite is located right across from the Cascadas trailhead and is one of the nicest campsites that I have ever seen at a public park. Beautiful World Beautiful Places Places To Travel Places To Visit Travel Destinations Magic Places In Patagonia Parc National Travel Photography. at this point we had already done 6 other hikes at Pumalín and we were starting Here are our favourite day hikes in Pumalin Park to get you off to a great start. There are some tour companies operating from the next town Chaitén that can arrange transportation and tours from there. Required fields are marked *, Hi! Lovely place to walk a section of the Caratel Austral. And as an Amazon Associate we earn from qualifying purchases. This is a few hour long trail that leads up to a beautiful lake. Location Maps of Pumalin Park in Chile and its surroundings tourist attractions. Hey there! If you want to get up close to a glacier, this long hike to Michinmahuida Glacier is a must. The forest floor is soft underfoot, damp yet protected from the worst of the Patagonian winter weather by the huge evergreen canopy high above. This camp offers beautiful roofed private sites for 16,000 Chilean pesos ($25 USD) that are perfect for bigger groups and families up to 4 people. “We want for people to get out and fall in love. This trail somehow cuts through thick vegetation native to the area. One of the most epic road trips on the planet, the Carretera Austral really feels like it begins here in Pumalin Park. The ranger Pumalin Nacional Park is a beautiful place, protected by the Chilean State to preserve the ecologycal enviroment. Pumalin Park in northern Patagonia is a stunning area that offers some great opportunities for outdoor lovers; several hiking trails, in-nature campsites, crystal clear river, unique flora, and fauna – all these you will ding here. Most of the backpackers that we met in Pumalín (and there were TONS of them) were hitchhiking since the park does NOT offer any type of public transportation. Take care when it’s wet. The trail begins with a gentle walk through a lush forest. Soon the trail becomes little more than a zig-zagging staircase. The rangers only collect camp fees during the high season – about mid-December until February so they’re free the rest of the year. time exploring it. We were accompanied by a friend Kirsi and her dog Jack so couldn’t help stopping for photos of him! Don’t expect wifi or electricity though. During our visit, we learned a few bits about its history and we found out that Pumalín Park has quite the unique and controversial story behind its creation! But be flexible - Patagonia will get under your skin and you’ll wish you had more time. Some of the backpackers we befriended were laughing at our dire “do or die” situation we had to deal with for 3 days…that is until they got off the ferry and realized that there is no public transportation at Pumalín. Overall the trail was pretty easy and I saw lots of families doing this hike. You’ll see many more waterfalls further south along the Carretera Austral but none accessed through such pristine and dense forest. (Click here to visit the Pumalin Park Web site for much more). We have been traveling through Central and South America in our self-converted Promaster van for over a year now and our van has given us the mobility to move around easily and sleep whenever we want. Some guys were waiting in the rain for hours before somebody stopped for them. Visit Villa La Angostura or better still, Plan a rough itinerary with an idea of how long you’ll stay in each place. The top is the new trail to Volcan Chaiten which erupted … Here’s just a couple of examples. Public transport is limited to one bus running between Chaiten and Caleta Gonzalo once a day. popular hike in this area is a long day hike that leads all the way to the base The Pumalin Park Project is open year round, but the peak times to visit are Chile's summer months of December, January and February, although March and November can be good, too. Despite initial hostility from locals, sceptical of Doug’s intentions, he continued buying adjoining plots of land. Here’s our guide on things to do in and around Pumalin Park – the hiking capital of northern Patagonia, Chile – including transport and accommodation recommendations. We tried to give as many backpackers rides as we could and at times squeezed like 8 people in our van but there were so many left behind…sigh. Plan Your Visit. These ancient trees’ 3,000 years of life help to tell a timeless story of this pristine ecosystem, tucked in the Palena Province. 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