Finding the right hike
Aysen has some of the most intrepid and thrilling hikes in Patagonia, whether you day-hike from the Carretera Austral or trek into the Andes on a multi-day expedition. Whatever appeals, we can help you discover on foot the highlights of this hidden corner of Chile.
- One of the most enthralling treks in the region is the Aysen Glacier Trail which explores the privately owned valleys on the fringes of the Northern Ice Cap
- Embark on exceptional day hikes in the Cerro Castillo range to glacial lakes with Cerro Castillo peaks towering above, or a multi-day hike crossing challenging passes and camping in pristine forests
- Follow in the footsteps of the first pioneers on top trails running parallel to the Carretera Austral
- Whether you go self-guided or with a local guide, don't miss out on the excellent day hikes in Queulat National Park and Patagonia National Park
Day hikes from the Carretera Austral
Queulat National Park
The Queulat National Park has three day hikes that can be completed, using the road as a starting point. They are all relatively easy and well marked so can be completed independently. The Bosque Encantado is in the south of the park and climbs through fuschias to a glacial lake with hanging glacier and wonderful views to surrounding forest. The hanging glacier trail is manned by park ranger and leaves from a car park 20 kilometres south of Puyuhuapi village. The puma trail in the northern area of Queulat National Park is a 5.6-kilometre path that climbs steeply through the natural woodland, and in its last stretch reaches the Los Pumas Lagoon.
There are two main day hikes in the Cerro Castillo mountain range. The first, to Laguna Cerro Castillo, can be done on horseback or on foot and passes through lenga forest until you reach the tree line and have great panorama views over the Ibanez valley, and then a scree slog up to Laguna Cerro Castillo (a turquoise lake at the foot of Cerro Castillo Peak). The second day hike is to Cerro Palo, a distinct protruding peak through a beautiful wooded valley.
The new Patagonia National Park has three main areas to explore. The Jeinimeini area has a seven-kilometre hike that takes in the rock formations of the Moon Valley, Piedra Clavada (an interesting rock formation) and some rock paintings. You can also drive to Jeinimeini Lake and hike up to a beautiful viewpoint above the lake. The Lagunas Altas hike in the Chacabuco Valley is a 20-kilometre trek that takes you to a high altitude plateau with numerous lakes and beautiful lenga forest, a nice contrast with the dry steppe in the main valley. In the Tamango area you can combine a boat trip along the Cochrane River to Cochrane Lake with a hike of either 3.5 kilometres or 11 kilometres.
There are four full day hikes of seven to nine hours in this area for which you will need a guide, and a short hike to Cerro Santiago that can be done self-guided. The hike to Refugio Mosco takes you through ancient lenga forests so you're surrounded by enchanting woodland the entire way. The Cerro Submarino hike gives you outstanding views on a clear day, climbing to Cerro Submarino Glacier. The Cerro Altavista hike is a hilly walk within the woods, with stops for delightful views of small lakes and ponds along the route. You can also hike to reach Tigre Glacier, a truly off-the-beaten-track trail, from where it's easy to appreciate the marks and shapes on the rocks which show where the glacier had once been and how it has carved the landscape.
Combine Cerro Castillo reserve with the beautiful marble caves on this multi-sport activity including trekking, horse-back riding and kayaking. Amazing views and away from the crowds, a lovely trip to include as part of a self-drive road trip in Aysen.…
The trails of Cerro Castillo can be accessed from Lago Monreal in the north, Las Horquetas in the east and Cerro Castillo Village in the south. The section in from the north is the least frequently hiked and the most challenging, requiring a six-day hike. Starting the hike in Las Horquetas means crossing two passes with an additional hike up to the Cerro Palo area. Both of the hikes end in Cerro Castillo Village where you can continue south into Aysen or return to Coyhaique. A three-day hike avoiding the most challenging passes, starting and finishing in Cerro Castillo Village, is the best option for less experienced hikers. However, all of these hikes are challenging and involve many ascents.
Patagonia National Park: Jeinimeini to Aviles
This is a fantastic four-day hike for those that want to avoid the physical challenges of Cerro Castillo. A wild hike with numerous river crossings, thick forests and remote glaciers, it passes from the technicolour rocks of the Jeinimeini reserve into the dryer steppe landscape in the Chacabuco valley. You could extend this hike by two days and hike through to Cochrane on the Huemul Trail.
Challenging treks and expeditions
The most adventurous trekking in Aysen takes place on the fringes of the Northern Ice Field. The Aysen Glacier Trail is arguably one of the best treks in Patagonia and is brilliant option for those who want a fully supported trek with excellent food. There are alternative hikes in the area that are perfect for those on a tighter budget who are looking for more of a bushwhack and don't mind carrying their own gear.
Mountaineers will find Cerro San Lorenzo or San Valentin to be challenging yet incredibly rewarding peaks to conquer, where your mental ability to cope with the weather and hiking conditions count for more than your physical ability.
Challenging treks and expeditions
Aysen has some of the most spectacular scenery in Patagonia and with the right guide you can do phenomenal day hikes, get up close to captivating glaciers or embark on an enthralling three-week expedition onto the Ice Cap. These are not the easiest of places to access but you will almost always have the trails to yourself.
What our customers think
The trip across Lago O'Higgins on the 'Quetru' was spectacular. Other highlights in Aysen... Lagunas Atlas hike was beautiful and solitary - we only saw one other couple all day.
Sarah and Charles UK March 2017
FAQs about Hiking in Aysen
Most people fly to Balmaceda airport, which has regular flights from Santiago and Puerto Montt. The other alternative is to come overland, but Aysen is days from everywhere.
On some of the day hikes a guide is not necessary but most of the routes in Aysen are remote, with no mountain rescue and often on private land, so having a local guide does pay off. A guide will give you peace of mind as well as access to some out-of-bounds areas.
If you are hiring a guide then all your camping equipment, except sleeping bag and mat, will be provided. And in Aysen they like their food! So although you could bring freeze dried food with you we'd recommend waiting and seeing what your guide pulls out of their pack to cook for you at the end of the day.
The Cerro Castillo trek was the first I ever did and I was totally spoilt. We attempted to fish from the rivers, saw huemul deer, waded rivers, scrambled down scree and saw only one gaucho in two weeks of trekking.
Harriet Pike Trekking, Mountaineering & Cycling Specialist
You might also be interested in...
Aysen is a land of three contrasting landscapes: the steppe, the glaciated Andes and the coastal temperate rainforest. Until relatively recently this region was untamed and …
Kayaking in Aysen
Aysen's rivers are forces of nature; immense bodies of water that carry glacial melt from the ice cap to the ocean. Kayaking along these rivers gives you access to some wildly …
El Chalten Hiking & Mount Fitz Roy
El Chalten sits at the base of Mount Fitz Roy and on the edge of the South Patagonia Ice Cap. From your hotel in El Chalten, you can walk straight out onto hiking trails around …
Hiking in the Chilean Lake District
This area of Chile offers trekking for all levels from easy day hikes to more challenging multi-day hikes. Hike up smoking volcanoes, climb granite peaks, trek past cascading …
Hiking in Patagonia
Patagonia offers a huge range of day hikes and multi-day treks through a variety of spectacular landscapes. As well as the famous National Parks of Torres del Paine and Los Glaciares, there's also remote Tierra del Fuego, The Chilean Lake District in the north and miles of lesser-known trails across the region.