Patagonia's Wild North

Spectacular Hikes in Parque Patagonia and Chile’s Undiscovered Aysen Region

Overview

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!

Itinerary at a Glance

Days 1-4
Balmaceda / The Aysén / Patagonia Park

We meet in Balmaceda in the Aysén, an untamed region of northern Patagonia that was named one of 2017’s “Top 10 Must Visit” regions by Lonely Planet. In Patagonia Park, we’ll find stunning peaks, untrodden trails to high lakes, endless beech forests, and guanaco herds on the grasslands. The centerpiece of the park is the vast Chacabuco Valley, a former estancia (large private ranch). From the park’s elegant lodge in Valle Chacabuco, we hike across rolling grasslands to ancient forests laced with mountain streams, often sighting condors and guanacos. The park’s pioneering re-wilding efforts include the largest-ever grassland restoration in Chile, resulting in burgeoning populations of native wildlife. Former Chilean President Michelle Bachelet and Tompkins Conservation joined forces in 2018 to create five new national parks in Chile, adding more than 10 million acres of new national parklands and fulfilling the vision of Doug and Kris Tompkins for a “Great Route of National Parks” stretching to Tierra del Fuego.

The Lodge at Valle Chacabuco
Parque Patagonia, Chile
Days 1 to 4 (4 nights)
Terra Luna Lodge
Puerto Guadal, Chile
Days 3 to 5 (3 nights)
Days 5-7
Lago General Carrera / Glacier Hikes

The remote Aysén region is filled with natural wonders, including glacier-fed Lago General Carerra, a 700-square-mile body of intensely blue waters shared by Chile and Argentina. From our lakeside lodge, we’ll hike into the lenga (beech) forests above the lake to see marine fossils in the rocks and enjoy vistas of snow-capped San Lorenzo (12,158') and San Valentin (13,331'). Boat rides across the lake bring us to our trailheads for hikes below towering glaciers.

Terra Luna Lodge
Puerto Guadal, Chile
Days 3 to 5 (3 nights)
Days 8-9
Marble Caverns / Coyhaique / Balmaceda

From lakeside Bahia Mansa, we set out by kayak for the Capillas de Marmol (Marble Caverns), a natural wonder of fantastic caverns, pillars, and tunnels on Lago General Carrera. The caverns are accessible only by boat, and we’ll paddle right into these otherworldly geological formations, the result of 6,000 years of extraordinary carving by the lake’s waters. Overnight in Coyhaique and depart on Day 9 via Balmaceda.

Hotel Dreams
Coyhaique, Chile
Day 8 (1 night)

Highlights

Highlights

Hike the wild, untraveled mountains of Parque Patagonia, South America’s newest national park
Learn about the conservation practices that helped create this unique park
See Patagonia’s wildlife, from herds of guanacos to pumas, flamingos, and soaring condors
Cross cobalt-blue Lago General Carrera by jet boat to hike on the ice fields of the Patagonian Ice Cap
Enjoy cozy mountain lodges that keep you close to the hiking trails

Details

Length: 9 days
Cost From: $6195  
Arrive: Balmaceda, Chile
Depart: Balmaceda, Chile
Lodging: 8 nights lodges
Meals: All meals included as indicated in the Detailed Itinerary (B=Breakfast, L=Lunch, D=Dinner)
Activity: Hiking / Trekking, Wildlife & Natural History
Trip Level:

7 hiking days on moderate to steep trails, 2-6 hours a day, altitudes below 5,000 feet, extreme winds and sudden changes in weather may affect the final itinerary