Reasons to go

  • It is totally unique. Nowhere else in Patagonia do you leave your car at the entrance to the town!
  • Walk the 15 kilometres of boardwalks along the milky-blue Tortel bay
  • Tourism is only just starting to flourish, so you can immerse yourself in Aysen culture in traditional lodging and restaurants
  • Sandwiched between the Northern and Southern Icefields, you have easy access to glaciers

Things to do

Self-guided hikes - A number of trails wind around the hillside from Caleta Tortel, the most famous being a half-day circular hike to Cerro Bandera, where you'll have fantastic views of the Baker River and Tortel Bay. Boardwalks cover the boggiest ground, but if there has been heavy rainfall then waterproof boots are recommended. Listen out for frogs enjoying the wet climate.

Katalalixar National Reserve - A wilderness archipelago, cloaked in forests, and only accessible by boat. Katalalixar is suspended between the northern and southern Patagonian ice fields, and the lack of tourist facilities means you'll have the islands all to yourself.

Caleta Tortel

Isla de los Muertos - A short boat ride from Caleta Tortel is a tiny, beautiful island with a dark history. Among the ferns and dense trees are 59 wooden crosses, commemorating workers who were building roads here in 1905. Their company promised them a boat home for the winter, when temperatures plummet. Winter arrived, but no boat came, stranding 200 workers here with little food, shelter, and battling a hostile climate. A quarter of the men died, some as young as 15. The island is now a national monument.

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North and south Patagonian ice fields

North Patagonian ice field - Day trips by boat from Caleta Tortel can take you through the fjords to Steffan Glacier, passing huge forested islands with waterfalls and abundant flora and fauna. The closer you get to the glacier, the more the water will become peppered with crystal icebergs, drifting downstream.

South Patagonian ice field - This is the third largest extension of continental ice in the world, after Antarctica and Greenland. 49 glaciers descend from it, some of which you can visit by boat from Caleta Tortel. Trips last from one to three days, which you'll spend exploring the fjords, navigating around icebergs and even walking on the ice.

Ice Cap Sally

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Where to stay

Entre Hielos Lodge

It's totally worth the climb up the wooden stairway that weaves through the rainforest up to Entre Hielos Lodge for such a peaceful stay at this comfortable guest house with jungle views. Surrounded by native rainforest, rooms are cosy with walls made of warm coloured Guaitecas Cypress wood and all have comfortable beds with thick down duvets, en suite bathrooms and central heating. The lodge offers several excursions, including boat rides down the Baker River and visits to nearby glaciers. You can have dinner at the lodge's own restaurant, providing typical Patagonian dishes made with local ingredients.

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Trips that visit Caleta Tortel

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