Chaitén––located 127 miles south of Puerto Montt, across the water from Chiloé, and very close to Pumalín Douglas Tompkins National Park––boasts spectacular views of the Chaitén and Corcovado Volcanoes. Much of its territory is protected parkland, making it a top destination for tourists traveling in the region.

The wilderness near Chaitén remained unexplored for years, even after Chile gained its independence from Spain. Only the most daring adventurers braved its coasts in search of the mythical City of the Caesars. Long inhabited by the Chono people, Chaitén was officially founded on February 24, 1940, and soon became the main port of entry to areas including Yelcho, Futaleufú, and Palena. In 2008, the area was hit hard by the eruption of the Chaitén Volcano, but now––a decade later––the city has been rebuilt and is stronger than ever, surrounded as always by its unmatched natural beauty.

Lodging, Food, and Activities

In Chaitén, you can find cabins, hostels, hotels, and other lodging options, along with restaurants and various tourism offerings. More information can be found at:

Region

Chaitén

Province

Palena

Population

5,073

Climate and Rainfall

Rainy and temperate, 94 inches annually

Nearest National Park(s)

Pumalín Douglas Tompkins National Park

Corcovado National Park

Don’t Miss

  • Hike the trails in Pumalín Douglas Tompkins National Park.
  • Visit the site museum in Chaitén (near to Río Blanco).
  • Birdwatch at Chana Beach.
  • Take in the beauty of the Yelcho Glacier.
  • Enjoy the thermal baths at Termas el Amarillo.
  • Spot the sea lions at Caleta Gonzalo.
  • Visit the beautiful Santa Bárbara Beach, located 7.5 miles north of Chaitén, which has stunning views of the Vilcún peak. This is an ideal place to spot Toninas (Commerson’s Dolphins).
  • Hike up the Chaitén Volcano for a close-up look at the aftereffects of the 2008 eruption.
  • Kayak in Lake Yelcho or along the shores of the Santa Bárbara beach.
  • Fish in Lake Yelcho.
  • Chaitén

  • Caleta Gonzalo

  • Chaitén

  • Ventisquero Yelcho

  • Volcán Chaitén

  • Volcán Michinmahuida

How to get

Chaitén is located 127 miles south of Puerto Montt. Take the Carretera Austral to Caleta La Arena, then board the first ferry to Caleta Puelche (no reservation required). You can also get to Caleta Puelche from Cochamó and Puelo via Route V-69. From Caleta Puelche, continue to Hornopirén. At Hornopirén, you’ll need to board another ferry south, and the Hornopirén–Leptepu and Fiordo Largo–Caleta Gonzalo legs should be booked in advance. (You can make reservations at www.taustral.cl and www.barcazas.cl) From Caleta Gonzalo, travel 34 miles to arrive at Chaitén. If you come from Coyhaique, take the Carretera Austral 262 miles north. From Argentina, cross the border at the Futaleufú Pass, then drive 47 miles to Villa Santa Lucía. From Villa Santa Lucía, take the Carretera Austral north for 39 miles to arrive at Chaitén.

Buses Kemel offers daily routes from Puerto Montt to Chaitén.

Buses Becker (http://www.busesbecker.com/) also offers routes from Chaitén to Coyhaique, with stops in Puyuhuapi and La Junta. These buses depart from Chaitén on Wednesdays and Sundays at 11:30 a.m. The offices are located at Turismo Chaitur, Bernardo O’Higgins 67, and the company can also be contacted via phone at +56 65 2 731429. Buses Terraustral ( www.busesterraustral.cl ) offers routes from Chaitén to Puyuhuapi.

Naviera Austral offers trips from Puerto Montt and Quellón to Chaitén. Boats only depart a few times a week and prior reservations are required.

Pewen and Aerocord offer daily 35-minute flights from Puerto Montt to Chaitén. These flights leave at various times, depending on the day of the week, and are subject to changes depending on weather conditions.

Tips

  • Bring a rain jacket and rain pants, even in the summer.
  • You can check the schedule for the ferries crossing the Reloncaví Estuary at http://transportesdelestuario.cl/. Remember to bring cash to pay for this leg of the trip. No prior reservations are necessary. Pricing depends on vehicle type.
  • The ferries connecting Hornopirén and Caleta Gonzalo make the trip daily, even on holidays, though schedules are always subject to change due to inclement weather. Prior reservations are required and can be made at http://www.taustral.cl.
  • The ferries from Puerto Montt and Quellón to Chaitén only make the trip a few days a week. They require prior reservations, which can be made at http://www.navieraustral.cl/.
  • There are no car rental services in Chaitén, but various tour operators offer transportation and excursions to different destinations in the area. Tour operators include, among others: Ruta 7 Patagonia, Chaitur, Chonos Tour, Volcano Expediciones, Chaitén Nativo, and Austral Expediciones.
  • The road from Chaitén to Caleta Gonzalo is currently being paved.
    Nuevo Chaitén, the aerodrome located 3 miles southeast of Chaitén, offers daily flights to Puerto Montt. It has a café and bathrooms.
  • Reserve flights between Puerto Montt and Chaitén at https://www.aerocord.cl or http://www.pewenchile.com/.
  • Laundry services are available in Chaitén.
  • To buy flights on Aerocord in Chaitén, visit the offices at Diego Portales 287.
  • You can buy bus tickets for Kemel buses going to Puerto Montt at the Chaitur offices, found at O’Higgins 67.

Basic Services

  • Gas Station
  • ATM
  • Bank
  • Hospital
  • Auto Repair Shop
  • Bike Repair Shop
  • Cell Service
  • Police Station
  • Visitor’s Center
  • Aerodrome Chaitén
  • Conaf (Park Rangers)

Visitor’s Center


The visitor’s center is located at Bernardo O´Higgins 65.

Phone number:

+56 65 2 731092

Important Dates

During February, the Chaitén townspeople hold a folkloric festival celebrating local traditions.

In February, the Patagonia marathon is held.

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