What is the Patagonia Park?
Located in the Chacabuco Valley in the Aysen region of Chile, Patagonia Park protects an abundance of Patagonian Steppe grasslands, peaks and wildlife. Originally Chacabuco Valley was one of the largest sheep ranches in the region, now, nearly 200,000 acres of land are protected.
These grasslands protect many rare and threatened species, yet they are severely underrepresented in conservation projects regionally and globally. The park in progress has already welcomed thousands of visitors from around the world who have come to witness the transformation of this wild landscape.
Looking forward, Conservacion Patagonica will combine Patagonia Park with the Jeinimeni Reserve and the Tamango Reserve, creating the Patagonia National Park of 640,000 acres across the border of Chile and Argentina.
Things to do in Patagonia Park
There are many ways to explore the Patagonia Park, with options for day hikes, overnight hikes, bird watching, mountain biking, fishing and kayaking. You can choose to enjoy the park with a bit more freedom under your own steam or if you prefer you can decide to join a guide who will help you make the most of your time in the park.
There are currently 6 trails in the park, which you are welcome to explore either with a guide or totally independently. There are both high and low difficulty trails as well as half-day or multi-day options, this means that there is an option for everyone to enjoy the nature and discover the park.
You could take a full-day driving through the 74 kilometres of the Patagonia Park, one of the most beautiful drives you find anywhere in the world. Vistas present views of the flamingo filled waters of Lago Seco, expansive views of snow-capped Cerro Kristine, and clay-red peaks covered in glacial ice.
The Chacabuco Valley, the heart of Patagonia Park, is home to a vast variety of bird species; nearly 100 species of birds have been recorded within the park. With options for walking tours or easier short walks accompanied by a vehicle there is the opportunity for everyone to catch glimpses of some of these birds including the Southern Canastero, Black-Necked Swan and the Chilean Hawk.
Although you cannot directly rent bikes from the Patagonia Park, there are tour operators who offer programs in the park. Why not explore the park in the saddle, enjoying the scenery from the park's main gravel road, perfect for the keen biker.
Outside the Park
Boating and Kayaking is not currently available in the Patagonia Park, however there are plenty of nearby tour operators that offer some excellent trips on the nearby Baker River.
Fly-fishing is discouraged in the park due to the presence of endangered fish in the ponds and lagoons, but there are plenty of opportunities for some excellent fishing in other parts of the Aysen area, including the Cochrane and Baker rivers.
Where to Stay in Patagonia Park
There are a few possibilities for accommodation at Patagonia Park. Within the park your base will either be the Lodge in Chacabuco Valley or one of the two campgrounds located in the park, any of these will give you access to the trails and roads, perfect for exploring. The other option is to stay in a nearby town, offering many hostels and bed & breakfasts.
A lovely place to base yourself for a relaxing way to enjoy the Patagonia Park. The central living and dining room are the ideal setting for resting after a day of travel, hiking, or exploration. Drink regional wine at the living room bar and enjoy views of looming Mount Tamanguito to the south through expansive paned windows. Nestle into overstuffed sofas, lounge by the fire, or venture to the patio by night to view an endless spread of stars.
Price for double occupancy including breakfast is $250 USD per person/night
West Winds Campground is the first official campground in the park. The gently rolling lawns of West Winds are also a favourite for local guanaco herds, which spend hot days near the creek or under the shade of tall poplar trees. Located two kilometres from the park headquarters, the campground is car-accessible via a gravel road or a 30 minute walk on the trail from headquarters.
The beautiful Berkley footbridge delivers visitors over churning blue waters to the new Stone House Campground, a refurbished old puesto and future base Patagonia Park wardens. Surrounded by waving poplars, the campground's seven new covered quinchos serve to block campers from the mid-valley winds. Located at the confluence of the Aviles and Chacabuco Rivers, the Stone House Campground serves as a jumping off point for explorations to the Aviles Valley and Jeinimeni Reserve.
Outside the Park
Cochrane, Aysen is the closest town to Patagonia Park, and lies thirty minutes south on the Carretera Austral road. If you choose to stay outside of the park, Cochrane offers plenty of places to sleep and eat. Other nearby areas include Puerto Tranquilo, Caleta Tortel and Villa O'Higgins.
How do I get to Patagonia Park...
Balmaceda airport is the closest to the park, and your journey from the airport to the park will take approximately 6-8 hours, hence we recommend you take the first flight of the day.
The drive from Balmaceda/Coyhaique to the park can take anywhere between six and eight hours on the Carretera Austral. This mostly dirt highway makes for an exciting road trip, with miles between houses, and hours between gas stations. You'll encounter potholes, crazy drivers, terrifyingly sharp curves, steep cliffs, and few guardrails, but also spectacular views of bright blue rivers, snowcapped mountains, and wild terrain.
If you do not wish to self-drive, then the park can arrange for a transfer to the park from Balmaceda/Coyhaique. If you wish to make use of this service then it must be booked at least one week in advance and it is reserved on a first come, first served basis.
After arrival to Balmaceda airport you will first take a transfer bus into Coyhaique, no need to buy tickets in advance. We recommend spending one night in Coyhaique as the bus to the park leaves from Coyhaique at 9am! For this bus, it is best to make an advance ticket reservation. The ride offers breathtaking views but will take approximately 7 hours to your stop 'El Cruce Entrada Baker' where you should hitchhike or walk the 2 hours to the park office.