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Patagonia National Park, Aysen, Chile, September 2021


jeremie
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We escaped from Santiago for a week during last September 2021. We took a flight to Balmaceda, where we hired a car with Hertz, and reached after a long and marvelous journey on the might Carretera Austral to Puerto Guadal, on the shores of the Lake General Carrera.

 

Puerto Guadal is probably the best place ever in this area to use as a base and visit diferent hotspots in the area:

 

To the East, near the border with Argentina:

- Chile Chico at the border with Argentina, 2 hours from Puerto Guadal

- Jeneimeni Lake in Patagonia National Park, just South to Chile Chico. it's 3 hours from Puerto Guadal

- Valle el Furioso, to dicover an intact primary Andean Patagonian forest, just 1,25 hours from Puerto Guadal. From there it is posible to bike down inside Patagonia National Park (offere with agency)

 

To The North, along the mighty Carretera Austral:

- Los Leones Glaciar trekking, 8 hours trekkinng in total, including riding on the glacial lake. It's 2 hours and a half North from Puerto Guadal. You can go with Pascual from http://www.turismokalempatagonia.com/

- Capillas de marmol kayaking or boat, at Puerto Rio tranquilo, 1 hour and a half North from Puerto Guadal

- Valle Exploradores hike to the moraine ridge, or ice trekking on the glaciar inside the Laguna San Rafael National Park, 3 hours North from Puerto Guadal

- End of the Valle Exploradores, a day long journey in my favorite valley in the Patagonia, with impresive granite cliffs and primary beech forests, glaciars, and snow peaks in the middle of the Laguna San Rafael National Park.

- Day trip to and boat in the Patagonian channels between delfins and icebergs to the edge of the San Rafel Glacier, the Northenmost glaciar reaching the sea in Patagonia, inside Laguna San Rafael National Park. It's 250 USD per person, there are many travel agencies at Puerto Rio Tranquilo. On the icebergs you can find some leopard seals far away form Antartica. It's a very long day trip from Puerto Guadal. 

- Capillas de marmo from Puerto Sanchez, it's 3 hours from Puerto Guadal.

 

To The South, along the Mighty Carretera Austral:

- Riding boat or fishing on the turquoise waters of Lake Bertrand, 40 minutes from Puerto Guadal.

- Rafting on the rapids of the turquoise waters of Baker river from Puerto Bertrand, 40 minutes South from Puerto Guadal

- Discover the convergence of Neff and Baker rivers, 1 hour from Puerto Guadal.

- Visit Patagonia National Park, the project headed by Kristine Tompkins, who rewilded and old sheep estancia in one of the best national parks in Patagonia. The park harbors a huge population of guanacos and pumas, Patagonian viscachas, and the largest population of endengered Patagonian deers. We visited the park with Patagonia Big Five https://www.patagoniabigfive.com/, the guys who basically lead the conservation project of the Tompkins project, and who continue the monitoring of key species inside the park.

- Lake Cochrane Lake, 2 hours South from Puerto Guadal

- Calluqueo Glaciar on the foot of San Lorenzo peak, the second highest peak of Patagonia

- Caleta Tortel village at the mouth of the Baker river, 3 hours South from Puerto Guadal. It's better to stay at Caleta Tortel for a few days there to enjoy the beauty of the channels and visit a couple of glaciars from there such as Jorge Montt Glaciar in Bernado O´Higgins National Park, a huge glaciar goind down the Southern Patagonia icefield.

 

To the West of Puerto Guadal:

- Trekking along the Neff valleys to los Leones Valleys, on the foot of the Northern Icefield, inside Laguna San Rafael National Park with Pascual from http://www.turismokalempatagonia.com/

- Fly over the Patagonian Northern icefield on helicopter with Phillipe from Tierra Luna lodge. Diferent options available, it's something outstanding.

 

 

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We stayed several nights in the good El Arrayan lodge (https://el-arrayan-puerto-guadal.hotelmix.es/), which is the best place where to take dinner in Puerto Guadal, with a gourmet patagonian cuisine from Pablo, the Chef and Owner of the small lodge.

 

It was a very good base to visit the area and enjoy very good local cuisine. Each rooms has a small chimney and great bed, with great view of the Lake General Carrera.

 

Other options are:

http://terraluna.cl/es/terralunapatagonia/ I stayed there some years ago.

https://www.mallincolorado.cl/

https://www.paradoraustral.com/ I also stayed there 1 night years ago, it's probably the most expensive hotel in the area with a spendid view of Lago Negro.

 

There are good options in Puerto Bertrand along the Baker river:

https://greenlodgebaker.com/

http://bordebaker.cl/

 

The best hotel is directly located inside Patagonia National Park and is managed by the Explora Group, it was build by Tompkins Conservation and has been leased recently and just started operating this season. It is probably the best base to visit the park during 2-3 days

https://www.explora.com/es/nuevo-parque-nacional-patagonia/

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My dream was to visit Patagonia National Park with local rangers and people working in Tompkins Conservation, who know a lot the place and the animals. This park is probably the only park where we have good chances to see all the most emblematic mammals from Patagonia. 

 

I am very optimistic that the park will be the next place to track pumas after Torres del Paine. The population of guanacos got up after the estancia was closed and the cattle and sheeps removed to 9.000 animals, and then got down and stabilized to 3.000 animals. This good population is perfect food for the strong population of 50 pumas resident inside the park.

 

https://www.patagoniabigfive.com/

 

I found with a lot of dificulty the agency who works with all the rangers from Tompkins Conservation and Rewilding Chile NGOs. It was just perfect, we only booked for 2 full days to discover the park main areas, track pumas and patagonia deers and enjoy the wonderfull landscapes of the park.

 

There are many trekkings inside the park, for diferent levels. Some of them cross the park to Jeneimeni Lake and even Lake General Carrera shores.

 

There is very good information available on this oficial website about the park:

https://www.rewildingchile.org/en/projects/patagonia-national-park/

 

Trekking routes and travel tips are available on this website, along with other hotspots along the Carretera Austral:

https://www.rutadelosparques.org/en/parque-nacional-patagonia/

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I will now post some few pictures of the trip...

 

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Edited by jeremie
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Just a word about the team of Patagonia Big Five team....

 

  • Paula leads the agency and was heading the Sheeps project. She introduced K9 dogs who help succesfully the local estancieros to protect their sheeps from pumas.
  • Cristian is the head of Conservation for Rewilding Chile, he lead all the investigation inside the park such as guanaco surveys and monitoring, pumas collaring and monitoring activities, camera trapping of small cats such as Geofrey and Colo Colo cats, monitoring of the "huemul" Patagonian deers inside the park who is actually spreding inside the park after that cattele were removed a decade ago, with new groups emerging and a stable population of 150-200 deers. Cristian is one of the 5 person that better know patagonian deers in the world.
  • Rody was our leading guide. He worked during 15 years as a Park rangers at Conaf in distinct protected areas of the Aysen region such as Cerro Castillo National Park or Rio Simpson National Reserve, pioneered the first studies on patagonian deers in the region along with Cristian before working as a Ranger. He went back working with Cristian and now leads monitoring activities for Rewilding Chile. He is currently working in monitoring patagonia deers in a new project with the NGO in collaboration with Cerro Castillo National Park authorities to collar, monitor and protect the deers. Along with Cristian, he is one of the 5 person that better know patagonian deers in the world.
  • Dani is the head monitoring ranger for patagonian deers in the Patagonia National Park. We discovered a wonderfull group of deers with him after trekking during 20 minutes in a pristine patagonian beech forest over Lake Cochrane. He monitors all the groups with VHF collars for a decade to lead a long term survey of the huemul population. Before working in the NGO, Dani was huemul tracker in Tamango Reserve for the park authorities, now part of the Patagonia National Park. He is the one who better knows patagonia deers in the world, and love to share his knowledge with oter people. Here is further information about this long term survey and details about threats and population growth since the conservation activities started 15 years ago: https://www.researchgate.net/publication/343295846_Parque_Patagonia_Nuevas_tierras_para_el_Huemul_y_mas_de_una_decada_conservando_la_especie_Capitulo_7_132_-_151_En_El_Huemul_de_Aysen_y_otros_rincones_A_Iriarte_A_Donoso_B_Segura_M_Tirado_Ed_Seremi_Agr
  • Arcilio is the puma lead tracker. He monitor pumas on his horse through VHF collars and report every kill to understand the puma population behaviours and evolution since the estancia was converted into a protected area. Before working for Tompkins Conservation and rewilding Chile, Arcilio was the Pumero of the estancia such as his father was, and his job consisted in killing pumas killing sheeps. For that reason, he is the person who better understand pumas inside the park and tries his best to protect them.

 

We met all these wonderfull people who shared all their knowledge with us. This was perhaps the best part of this trip inside the park, we can just recommend you guys to visit the park and if you want to go out of the trails, there are no better persons that the team of Patagonia Big Five to help you have the best tracking experiences to the emblematic fauna from Patagonia.

 

 

 

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I will finish with the Huemul group we spot with Che Dani and Rody in Patagonia National Park, out of the beaten track.

Visitors can't go to this area located in the ridge between the Tamaguito peak and Lake Cochrane, covered by patagonian beech forests.

 

These huemules are closely monitored by Dani every day, especially during the months of October and December when fawns birth in order to detect them, and mark them to lead the long term survey.

 

 

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Your photos of wildlife, scenery, and a few people are marvelous.  So are your hints on who to contact for this kind of excursion.  Thanks so much!

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Here is a short drone flight from a large guanaco herd:

 

 

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  • 4 weeks later...

Stunning photos, thank you for posting 

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