Today, a hiking trail up the still smouldering volcano is a highlight of any visit to northern Patagonia in Chile. We’re Angela & Graham. The Volcán Chaitén trail does not have a campsite at the base of it but there are two amazing camping options nearby. fallen Alerce trees. 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. to hike all of the trails which is one of the main reasons why we spent so much All of the trails at Pumalín Park … The weather was mostly pleasant, a little cool and we had occasional rain. 4.5k. at this point we had already done 6 other hikes at Pumalín and we were starting For more info, please check our disclosure page. We are Laura and Joel – full-time travelers, photographers, and van lifers. We highly recommend spending at least a few days hiking and camping in this untouched part of the world. Oh, and we couldn’t leave our van even to use the restroom or we’d be skipped. This hike is located in the southern part of the park after passing through town Chaitén. Tours; Circuits; Activities; Hotels; Luxury Experiences; Cruises; Special deals +56 (2) 2570 8620 +56 (2) 2570 8620; 1-800-906-8056 (11) 5219-4105 (11) 3958-7071; USD. New changes will be implemented If you don’t know where to start, take a look at our guide of mistakes to avoid when choosing your insurance cover. A wooden bridge spans the turquoise clear river. All this incredible beauty, well-maintained trails and jaw-dropping views must cost a packet right? While this is not an official campground, visitors may set up camp if necessary, although amenities are limited. But Doug didn’t just buy a camper van and go off to travel the world like us. There are a few shops in Chaiten but no ATM and credit cards are rarely accepted. Despite initial hostility from locals, sceptical of Doug’s intentions, he continued buying adjoining plots of land. Public transport is limited to one bus running between Chaiten and Caleta Gonzalo once a day. There’s 3 routes into the park: The most boring and uncomfortable route is on the overnight ferry from Puerto Montt to Chaiten. Punta Del Lago trail starts at the Lago Negro campsite. Both campsites have private sites that cost 16,000 Chilean pesos ($25 USD) per site or 6000 pesos ($9 USD) for community spots. As an Amazon Associate we earn from qualifying purchases. Reserve your tours and activities in advance with, Get your rucksack ready with our definitive. 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. If you’re travelling in your own vehicle or rental, the unpaved roads in Pumalin Park are in reasonable condition so a 4×4 isn’t essential, especially when dry. Navier Austral operates the ferry too. Most of the campsites (but importantly not all), are accessible in your car or camper van. There are some exceptions to this. Unfortunately, only few are left today, as they have been deforested radically since colonization, and … Most of the trails are marked on these apps and they are especially helpful in places that don’t have cell reception, like this entire region. The hike follows beautiful wooden walkways and bridges made of old It’s really fun (in an obstacle course type of way) but could be a bit tough on joints and knees during some of the stair climbs. The 12-hour crossing costs around 17000 CLP | $25 | £19 | €20 per person one way plus 147000 CLP | $216 | £173 | €176 for a camper van. Parts of the trail feel like a “chutes and ladders” game climbing up and down wooden stairs and using ropes to get over boulders along the trail. It’s the one we ended up shipping our van with but unfortunately, our boat skipped the scenic route – time is money in the busy season! The trail begins with a gentle walk through a lush forest. This isn’t a hike for those out for an energetic morning. Rangers maintain more than half a dozen campsites within Pumalin Park. And we were lucky enough to experience this area for The park is really well maintained and has lots of beautiful camping areas, restrooms and even showers, although icy cold. Pumalín Park. Potholes are deep, giant rhubarb lines the route and around every corner is another completely stunning view. For hotels, use. They were some of the most stunning campsites we found on the whole of the Carretera Austral. Currently, Chile has 36 National Parks and with the help from the Tompkins Foundation, Chile keeps expanding that list creating more National Parks. Like really bad. Getting there | The start of the trail is about 45 kilometres north of Chaiten town and parking is available. Towns (or rather villages) are few and far between in Pumalin Park so come prepared. This is not an official campsite but many people set up their tents around the beach. The campsite is located next to a rustic farm and has a mini market that is open during the busy season (December to February). Visit Villa La Angostura or better still, Plan a rough itinerary with an idea of how long you’ll stay in each place. The second waterfall is located another 40 minutes in and has a viewing platform offering spectacular views of the tall waterfall. Most, if not, all trails are manageable as day hikes. Coming from the US it was hard to wrap our heads around it at first, but National Parks are still a very new concept in many countries. Closer to the capital and towards the coast, Casablanca, the white wine region, is equally unmissable. We also skipped trail #7 – Sendero Interpretativo since it just goes through a forest near a campsite and we heard that it’s also not that exciting. A large rockfall on the smouldering cone was enough to startle us into beginning our descent! The ranger Perhaps an honest mistake but take care anyway. If you’re interested in an organized tour, his email is [email protected] Paths and campsites are well maintained. We traded our office desks for a life on the road in search of the next great adventure. The Santa Barbara beach is located 8.5 miles south of the volcano trail. The trailhead is located right across from the Caleto Gonzalo ranger station. There are no campsites right outside the Tronador trailhead for visitors to drop off their stuff and as a result not a lot of people hike this trail. We enjoyed it so much here we stayed a couple of days watching seals and dolphins patrol the shallows. For more information on trails and full-day hikes in Pumalin Park, check out the official website here. Dead, fallen trees surround the rim while solid brain like lava divides a crater lake in two. ATMs often don’t work in Patagonia and supplies of fresh food are limited too. Another possibility is to spend a night at the famous Thermas De Puyuhuapi Spa and Hot springs. We decided to skip trail #6 – Sendero Volcan Michinmahuida because everyone we talked to had the same thing to say – the trail is super long, it offers no views and leads through an overgrown forest for almost all 13 miles of it. Lovely place to walk a section of the Caratel Austral. 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. Walk along its paths designed for long journeys, go trekking and canyoning on its fjords and camp at the foot of isolated secret waterfalls. The next hike in Pumalín Park heading south along the Carretera Austral road is the #2 – Sendero Laguna Tronador trail. Read More, 10 Reasons To Skip Iceland And Head To Oregon Instead, DIY Promaster Camper Conversion Guide – Part I, 10 Snapseed Tricks To Edit Instagram Photos, How to Choose the Best Camera for Instagram, 45 Best Instagram Theme Ideas & How To Create Them. Camping is free except during the high season. Parque Pumalin has a wealth of opportunities for outdoor lovers. We were accompanied by a friend Kirsi and her dog Jack so couldn’t help stopping for photos of him! Read More: The Complete Guide To Visiting Machu Picchu. Now that’s quite the legacy to leave behind! stations also sell paper maps, but we didn’t really feel that one was necessary. But while most people that arrive in Patagonia zoom down to some of the most popular parks, we decided to venture into Patagonia’s lesser known regions. The tide of support for his efforts began to switch when the Chilean government proposed to dam the Rio Baker. Unfortunately, most of the Alerce trees have been logged in the past so there are not that many left anymore. Oh no. The trail is 20 kilometres long and takes at least 6 hours so one of the full-day hikes in Pumalin Park. Because you will not protect something unless you love it.” ~ Kristine Thompkins. We visited in December, so early in the season. Everywhere else, you’ll need some basic language skills to get the most out of your trip. If you arrive from Puerto Montt in the north, you’ll reach Hornopiren first. We’ve also written a detailed guide of the 3 travel insurance companies we recommend for long term travel insurance. The Sendero #1 Caleta Gonzalo-Cascadas is one of the top trails to do at Pumalín National Park. This is a few hour long trail that leads up to a beautiful lake. The park’s most notable feature is the threatened Alerce (Fitzroya) tree––25 percent of Chile’s remaining Alerces can be found in this National Park. Take care when it’s wet. take the road from Puerto Montt to Caleta Arena. The southern part offers 4 trails and from the available trails, we hiked trail #11 El Mirador to a viewpoint of a glacier. Things to Do in Pumalin Park The Pumalín Park Project, the world's largest private nature reserve, spans roughly 300,000 hectares (742,000 acres) and incorporates temperate rainforest, glaciers, fjords, thundering waterfalls and rivers, and stands of ancient alerce trees. There is a closer starting point from the Ventisquero Amarillo campsite to this trail but you need a 4×4 to get there. To appreciate pristine nature, and to value and protect biodiversity while acquiring a greater consciousness of the magic and beauty of the natural world is part of the purpose of Pumalín Park. Top Hikes To Do Around Villarrica & Pucon, Chile, The Complete Guide To Visiting Machu Picchu. So make sure you pack these car camping essentials to make the most of the fabulous opportunities in this part of the world. The Sendero #3 Alerce trail is a quick and easy path that leads through a forest of giant Alerce trees. Getting there | The start of the trail is from Ventisquero Campground so perfect for an early start straight from camp. These ancient trees’ 3,000 years of life help to tell a timeless story of this pristine ecosystem, tucked in the Palena Province. descriptive names. It’s a nice short hike if you’re looking for a quiet spot in the nature, but not much of a destination. The closest camping spot is Cascada Escondida campsite around 1.5 miles south. Summer temperatures hover around 20°c, dropping to a little over 0°c in the winter months. Get free comparison quotes with, Check out our extensive and still growing, Book your accommodation in advance, at least for the first destination. We didn’t do our research ahead of time so we didn’t know that we could (and should) buy tickets prior to arrival. The forest here was the most wonderful we saw in Patagonia. 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. While some hikes like Ventisquero El Amarillo are up to 20 kilometre treks, others are much shorter. 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. Navier Austral operates the ferry. To encourage Chileans and visitors from around the world to experience the unique and spectacular landscape in Pumalin Park, Doug’s foundation developed a network of cabins, campgrounds and trails. The island is unique, unlike anywhere else in Chilean Patagonia.