5 reasons to visit Coyhaique
- Coyhaique one of Chile's youngest cities, only founded in 1929, and you can still feel the innovative spirit
- A bustling oasis in this remote region, stock up on craft beers and local delicacies, or wander the markets in the central square
- Head to nearby rivers and lakes, packed with trout in the summer, to kayak or fly fish
- Drive straight out on the Carretera Austral, north to the rainforest, south to the mountains, or east to the ice cap, glaciers and fjords
- Spend a day exploring the huge nature reserve on the edge of town
Places to visit
Plaza de Armas: This pentagonal plaza is the historical centre of Coyhaique, where ten straight roads converge. It is a peaceful place to enjoy a pisco sour or a coffee, except on market days where the whole square is bursting with colour and sound as local artists and craftsmen showcase wood carvings, leather goods, basketry works and pottery.
Patagonia Regional Museum: Located a little out of the city centre, this museum exhibits the heritage of the settlers and ancient inhabitants of this fascinating region. There are samples of housewares, texts and photographs which help bring the history and culture of Aysen to life.
Coyhaique reserve: Just 5km south of the city is a nature reserve covering 2676 hectares of protected forest. Over 12km of trails wind through thick pines and mature lenga forest, including the most popular Laguna Verde trail which snakes around a crystal clear lake full of rainbow trout. A more strenuous hike takes you all the way up to the summit of Cinchao at 1361m. Here you'll get views of the entire city and all the surrounding mountains that tower above it.
Things to do
Coyhaique sits right in the middle of the Carretera Austral, and given the town's size and proximity to Aysen's main airport, it is one of the best places to start your self-drive adventure. The Carretera Austral is one of the most famous 'road trip' roads in the world, a 1,200km route that connects the most remote areas in Chile and passes through rainforests, plains and valleys, past fjords, hanging glaciers, snow-capped peaks and sparkling glacial rivers.
To the north lies the magnificent Queulat National Park, where you can drive, trek or kayak through the rainforest in search of hanging glaciers and waterfalls. Drive south from Coyhaique and you'll head into the Cerro Castillo mountain range, full of jagged peaks which can be explored in day or multi-day treks.
Trips that visit Coyhaique
How to get there
Coyhaique's local airport is in Balmaceda, 34km away. Most international flights to Balmaceda will go via Santiago.
You can also drive to Coyhaique along the Carretera Austral, it is 345km from Cochrane and 1646km from Santiago.
If you have a little more time, it is possible to sail from Puerto Montt to Puerto Chacabuco, a merchant port 79km from the city. This route takes 22 hours, but you will see some beautiful remote scenery along the way. This is a 22 hour trip.
Where to stay
The benefit of building a city at the bottom of a mountain is that the steep streets leading up the hillside give the opportunity for some fantastic views. Our favourite hotels in Coyhaique sit a little way up and out of the centre, where you can see the whole town and the Simpson valley from your hotel room.
If you'd prefer to be closer to the action, more central hotels are often a little easier on the budget, and will give you quicker access to all the cafes, restaurants and the central plaza.
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