Experience one of the most incredible scenic routes in the world, the Route of the Parks, located in Aysen, one of the most remote and least visited regions in Chile. Discover the diversity and beauty of this remote region as you explore the National Parks concentrated along the Carretera Austral. Your journey begins in Coyhaique, the bustling hub of the region. Experience the sunrise with condors and the stunning falls of Queulat National Park. Venture south to the rugged ridgelines of Cerro Castillo National Park and the crystal waters of General Carrera Lake and its famed Marble Caves. Spend time exploring Patagonia National Park and its expanses of land and wildlife, and end your trip with the epic landscapes of San Rafael National Park.
Spot the Andean condor in its natural habitat in Queulat National Park
Enjoy walking around Cerro Castillo National Park.
Marvel at the Patagonian forest's stunning natural scenery
Visit the mountains and pristine lakes of Queulat National Park
See the famous Marble Caves and Cathedrals of Lake General Carrera
Admire the San Rafael Glacier, an impressive ice mass in Patagonia
Upon arrival at the Balmaceda airport, pick up your vehicle rental and begin your adventure with a drive North to Coyhaique, the capital city of the Aysen region and the gateway to the remote national parks along the Carratera Austral. Explore the bustling city this afternoon, sampling local craft brews or wandering the artisan markets in the main square. Your hotel this evening is located on the banks of the Coyhaique River with views of the forests and mountains, only a short distance from the city center, and is the perfect place to rest up after a big travel day.
Get ready for a condor sighting excursion early this morning. Your day begins before sunrise in order to head to a local estancia in Coyhaique Alto early enough to witness the iconic Andean Condors wake and take flight for the day. Learn about their habitats, hunting patterns and lifecycles while watching them soar above you in the morning's early rays of light . Enjoy your breakfast at the estancia before continuing your journey North. Continue your drive to Queulat National Park via Villa Amengual and the small seaside town of Puerto Cisnes . Upon arrival at your lodge in Queulat, take a rest and enjoy a hearty meal to end the day.
After breakfast, head out for the day to explore Queulat National Park. While visiting, you will experience stunning snowcapped peaks blended seamlessly with lush green temperate rainforest all around you. The hanging glacier, Ventisquero Colgate, an icy waterfall pouring down into jagged black rocks between mountain ranges is an imposing sight and a highlight of the park. As you explore, keep an eye out for local fauna often spotted in the park, such as the Andean Hairy Armadillo and the Huemul. This evening, drive back to Coyhaique to rest and recharge.
Today you will head south into dramatic river valleys and rugged windswept grasslands. After breakfast, start your 5-hour drive towards the Mallin Colorado Lodge. Your first stop along the way will be in Villa Cerro Castillo where you can stretch your legs and enjoy a snack from one of the local vendors while taking in the views of the towering jagged peaks of Cerro Castillo National Park. If you would like to spend part of the day hiking in the park, plan to leave Coyhaique early this morning in order to leave enough time to explore. After passing through Cerro Castillo, you will continue through the wide expanses of the Ibañez River Valley, the Murta River Valley, and into Puerto Rio Tranquilo on the shores of Lake General Carrera. After your big day of hiking and driving, settle into your cabin and get ready for dinner while relaxing and taking in the tranquil surroundings of your home for the next few nights.
After breakfast, you will begin a scenic drive to Puerto Bertrand, stopping along the way to see the confluence of the two rivers, Rio Baker and Rio Nef. The confluence is a dramatic intersection of the two rivers where the different colored waters meet, forming a powerful waterfall. Observe how the colors blend and hear the force behind the rushing waters as they crash over the falls. After this break, continue south to Cochrane, the entrance to the newly established Patagonia National Park. visit the National Park museum to learn about it's creation and the conservation mission behind it's establishment. The park is home to a variety of endemic species including the abundant herds of guanacos, elusive huemul deer, and the Chilean Flamingo, which can be observed floating the lagoons of the park. Return to the Mallin Colorado Lodge this evening for dinner after your day exploring.
Today you will visit the famed Marble Caves by kayak. After breakfast, head north towards Puerto Tranquilo to Mansa Bay. Your guide will assist you with preparing your kayak and paddling instructions. Once all equipment is set, paddle your way to the famed Marble Caves, where you can glide through these architectural wonders. Learn geological theories about the formation of these unique cliffside caves created along the shores of Lake General Carrera. See how the stone has been eroded by the movement of water and strong wind throughout the years as you kayak the calypso-blue waters. Once back on shore, the rest of the day is free to explore the trails throughout the Mallin Colorado or relax and enjoy learning more about the Patagonian Gaucho culture in the lodge.
This morning brings an early start to the day. Wake up at dawn and drive to Bahia Exploradores in Puerto Tranquilo. From here you will embark on a vessel that will navigate through the Chilean fjords on a full day excursion to Laguna San Rafael National Park. Glide through the lake while taking in the stunning views and the imposing wall of ice at the foot of the San Rafael Glacier. Observe the loud crackling and groaning of the ice as the glacier calves and watch the mesmerizing floes around you. The park is also a World Biosphere Reserve and is home to many bird species so keep an eye out for black-necked swans, cormorants and teh occasional black-browed albatross. While onboard, enjoy your leisurely lunch. After navigating the lagoon, return to Mallin Colorado, where you will enjoy a farewell dinner at the lodge before preparing for your return home.
Day 8: Drive North to Balmaceda Airport | Return Home
After breakfast, drive back to the Balmaceda airport to return your rental vehicle and connect with your flight to Santiago and begin the journey home.
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