Be among the first to hike the pristine trails of Parque Patagonia, the gem of northern Patagonia’s wild Aysen region. With Trip Leader extraordinaire Rob Noonan, we’ll explore this wilderness of stunning mountains, tumbling glaciers, golden pampas, and powder-blue lakes, all shaped by the forces of the Patagonian Ice Field. Chile’s Parque Patagonia was created through the vision of Conservación Patagónica, led by the late American philanthropist Doug Tompkins (founder of The North Face) and his wife Kristine Tompkins (former CEO of the Patagonia clothing company). Since its creation, the park has been hailed as “South America’s Yellowstone” for its epic landscapes and resurgent numbers of native wildlife, from massive herds of guanacos to pumas, flamingos, and soaring condors. This staggeringly beautiful part of Patagonia is still undiscovered, and your visit will help support one of the world’s pioneering conservation efforts. Our second base for adventure will be a lodge on the shores of mountain-ringed Lago General Carrera, South America’s second largest lake, where we’ll kayak in the surreal “Marble Caverns” and travel by jet boat to remote trailheads for hikes to the magnificent ice walls of Patagonian glaciers. Join us for a once-in-a-lifetime journey that will engage you in the sheer beauty of wild nature!
Day 1, Nov 18, 2017
Balmaceda, Chile / Parque Patagonia
Meeting in the Patagonian outpost of Balmaceda, we head into the epic landscapes of Aysen, the untamed region of northern Patagonia named one of 2017’s “Top 10 Must Visit” regions by Lonely Planet. On arrival at Parque Patagonia, we’ll stretch our legs on a walk with the ranger (a chance to spot our first guanacos) and learn about the fascinating ‘re-wilding’ work being done in the park.
Days 2-4, Nov 19-21, 2017
Aviles / Lagunas Altas / Furioso / Parque Patagonia
Exhilarating day hikes brings us deep into Parque Patagonia on the Aviles, Lagunas Altas, and Furioso trails. We’ll be on the lookout for native wildlife, including guanacos and soaring condors, as we hike into wild glacial valleys, past crystal-clear lakes, and across the dramatic hanging footbridges built by the the park staff. The Lagunas Altas trail, the first major trail created for the park, was named one of “Patagonia’s Best Five Treks” and offers hikers an incredibly rewarding challenge.
Days 5-7, Nov 22-24, 2017
Lago General Carrera / Calving Glaciers
We head south to our lakeside lodge on glacier-fed Lago General Carerra, a 700-square-mile body of intensely blue waters shared by Chile and Argentina. Thrilling ride by jet boats whisk us across this spectacular lake to our trailheads, and we hike towards massive calving glaciers for incredible views including the icefall of the Northern Patagonia Icefield.
Days 8-9, Nov 25-26, 2017
Coyhaique / Balmaceda / Depart
By kayak, we head out to explore the “Marble Caverns,” a natural wonder of fantastic caves, pillars, and tunnels on Lago General Carrera. The caverns are accessible only by boat, and we’ll paddle right into these marvelous geological formations, the result of 6,000 years of wave action. Overnight in Coyhaique and depart via Balmaceda on Day 9.