Activity level: Moderate
One of the main attractions of Northern Patagonia is Pumalin Park; a private initiative to protect 42.000 acres of evergreen temperate rainforest.
The park is divided into a north and south section; the first is accessible via Hornopirén (which can be reached by vehicle or bus), but from here there is no infrastructure and access to the region’s trademark fjords and the Cahuelmó hot springs is by rented boat or tour only
The southern section is where travelers will find Caleta Gonzalo and the main information center, with lodging, campsites, park information, and a store selling locally produced crafts. Caleta Gonzalo is reached by ferry from Hornopirén in January and February, and by Chaitén year-round. This is where visitors can explore a rainforest bursting with life via one of the several trails in the area.
Pumalín makes for an excellent introduction to the Carretera Austral; however, outside of the summer months, torrential downpours can go on for days, even in the middle of summer. Most visitors spend only a day or 2 here, unless they are part of an organized boat/kayak tour.
The Pumalín Project is open to the public all year round but the peak months are January and February. March to September can be spectacular but rainy. We recommend that you bring good rain gear and rubber boots.
► DAY 01: Puerto Varas / Puerto Montt – Hornopiren – Cahuelmo Hot Springs Details
In the early morning we will depart from the hotel and take a 3½ hour drive south on the Carretera Austral (southern highway) to the village of Hornopiren. A boat awaits us there to take us to Cahuelmó Hot Springs. This is the northern entrance of Pumalin Park.
After having lunch we will navigate our way toward these beautiful thermal baths, composed of rustic tubs that had been carved into the rocks years ago by local people. Each varies in size but all have very hot water, simply regulated for an extremely pleasant bathing experience. You’ll enjoy it under a clear night sky with candles. Overnight in tents close by ( BL, D).
► DAY 02: Cahuelmo Hot Springs – Caleta Gonzalo Details
Returning to the boat we navigate to Leptepú ramp where we will start a three hour trail walk to Pillan fjords. Here we will visit a local organic field and an Apiculture project. After this visit we will boat to Caleta Gonzalo where we will stay in marvellous park cabins at the southern entrance to Pumalin Park. There we will enjoy a wonderful meal cooked by locals at the Caleta Gonzalo Café ( B, BL, D).
► DAY 03: Caleta Gonzalo Details
Breakfast early in the morning. A short transfer will take us to the trail called “Cascadas Escondidas” for a morning hike. This trail will take us through an impressive temperate rain forest Returning to our base, we will enjoy a homemade lunch in the cafeteria. In the afternoon we will hike to an imposing waterfall before returning to an tasty and replenishing dinner ( B, BL, D).
► DAY 04: Caleta Gonzalo – Chaiten Details
Breakfast early in the morning before we start our day at the Pumalin Park. A van will be waiting to drive us to the town of Chaiten. At one point we will stop for a short 15-minute walk through a forest to some of the oldest arboreal species in the planet, the Alerce. Some of these trees are over three thousand years old. Arriving at Chaiten at Hostal Puma Verde, our services will end with a excellent lunch ( B,L )
-Unveil the mysteries of the largest Inca Ruins.
-Enjoy fantastic Peruvian cuisine.
-A cultural journey within the Sacred Valley.