The magnificent Cerro Castillo peak lies 7,605 feet above Coyhaique and Río Ibáñez, and in the area surrounding it, you’ll find a trekking circuit that has been named one of the most beautiful in all Chile. The Lenga and Ñirre forests are home to Huemules (South Andean Deer) and it’s not uncommon to spot one near the Ibáñez park entrance, just next to the Carretera Austral. The hanging glaciers form lagoons with bright turquoise waters, giving even more color and life to a unique landscape that already captivates visitors from around the world.

Can’t Miss

  • See the impressive Cerro Castillo massif, which can be photographed from one of the lookout points along the Carretera Austral.
  • Do the trekking circuit that starts in Las Horquetas and travels around the massif to Laguna Cerro Castillo, finally ending at the Neozelandés campsite.
  • Visit Laguna Cerro Castillo and take in its intense turquoise color.
  • Look for Huemules (South Andean Deer), which can be spotted from the Carretera Austral.
  • Take photos of Laguna Chiguay in fall, when the Lenga forests surrounding it turn red.

Open

From October to April

Area

354,601 acres

Climate

Cold steppe and trans-Andean continental climate

Rainfall

36.5 inches annually

Ecosystem

Deciduous Forest, Evergreen Mountain and Steppe

Founded

June 19, 1970

"You shall love beauty, which is the shadow of a deity over the Universe.",

Gabriela Mistral

Flora

Deciduous forests make up much of the parkland. Highlights include the Lenga and Ñirre trees, though it’s also possible to find evergreen species like the Magellanic Coigüe. Notro, Calafate (Magellan Barberry), Chilco (Hardy Fuchsia), and Chaura are some of the native bush species, and beginning in November, you can see endemic wild orchids.

Fauna

It’s common to see Huemules (South Andean Deer) along the route, and the park is also home to species such as the Puma, the Chingue (Molina’s Hog-Nosed Skunk), Foxes, and others. Condors and Black-Chested Buzzard Eagles fly over the peaks of the majestic Cerro Castillo, and the forest is home to birds like the Rayadito (Thorn-Tailed Rayadito), the Carpintero Negro (Magellanic Woodpecker), the Chucao, and the Churrín del Sur (Magellanic Tapaculo).

Culture

The Aonikenks, or Tehuelche people, were nomads who traveled the Patagonia by foot. They were expert hunters and used spears and bow and arrow to hunt Guanacos and Ostriches. With the introduction of horses to the region during the 18th century, these peoples extended their routes through the southern steppe and made new hunting tools, such as boleadoras, a throwing weapon made of weights attached to cords.

infrastructure

  • Bathrooms
  • Lodging
  • Camping
  • Restaurants
  • Information Center
  • Trails
  • Trekking Circuits
  • Picnic Area

How to Get There

Cerro Castillo National Park is located 40 miles south from Coyhaique along the Carretera Austral. The road is paved.

There are various public transit options between Coyhaique and Cerro Castillo. One option is to take any of the buses leaving daily from Coyhaique toward Cochrane and get off at Laguna Chiguay or in the town of Cerro Castillo, where you can hire a local transport company to take you to the Las Horquetas trailhead.

At Quellón and Puerto Montt, you can take a Naviera Austral Ferry to Puerto Chacabuco, which is located 88 miles from Cerro Castillo.

Sky and Latam airlines fly daily to Balmaceda airport, located 34 miles southeast of Coyhaique.

Trails

Laguna Chiguay Trail

  • Difficulty

    Low

  • Duration

    1.5 hours

  • Distance

    2.5 miles

  • Open

    Year-round

This walk winds arounds the gorgeous Laguna Chiguay and offers 328 feet of universally accessible trail.

Starting Point: Laguna Chiguay campsite

Laguna Cerro Castillo Trail

  • Difficulty

    High

  • Duration

    6 hours

  • Distance

    9 miles (out and back)

  • Open

    Preferred months are November to April

Trail that ascends the Cañon Lookout Point and takes you through Lenga and Ñirre forests, finally reaching the Laguna Cerro Castillo.

Starting Point: Cerro Castillo

Download trail on kml format

Circuito Cerro Castillo

  • Difficulty

    High

  • Duration

    4 to 5 days (with approximately 8 hours of hiking each day)

  • Distance

    34.4 miles

  • Open

    Preferred months are November to the end of April

One of the best trekking circuits in Chile, due to its incredible views of Cerro Castillo as well as its glaciers, lagoons, and panoramic views of the Turbio and Ibáñez rivers.

Starting Point: Las Horquetas (5 miles south of Laguna Chiguay).
Ending Point: Cerro Castillo

Day 1:
Las Horquetas–Río Turbio Campsite:
The circuit starts with a trail accessible to 4×4 vehicles. You’ll need to cross through various private properties as well as cross 5 creeks; there are no bridges. At mile 8 (kilometer 13), you’ll enter the parklands and see the first Conaf (park ranger) station.
Distance: 9.5 miles
Duration: 7 hours

Day 2:
Río Turbio Campsite–El Bosque Campsite:
This part of the route ascends to the El Peñón peak (4803 feet above sea level) and finally descends to the El Bosque Estuary.
Distance: 6 miles
Duration: 6 hours

Day 3:
El Bosque Campsite–Neozelandés Campsite:
Today you’ll see the Laguna Castillo, then ascend to 5499 feet above sea level along the lateral moraine, where you’ll have impressive views of the Ibáñez River Valley. Finally, you’ll descend to the Parada Estuary Valley, and head north to the Neozelandés Campsite.
Distance: 7 miles
Duration: 8 hours

Day 4:
Neozelandés Campsite–Laguna Duff (out and back):
This day offers gorgeous views of Mount Palo and a Lenga forest. From the campsite, you can visit Laguna Duff for the day.
Distance: 3.7 miles
Duration: 4 hours

Day 5:
Neozelandés Campsite–Cerro Castillo:
Descend through the Parada River Valley until you arrive at a gravel road that leads to Villa Cerro Castillo.
Distance: 10 miles
Duration: 5 hours, approximately

Download trail on kml format

Tips

  • Bring sunscreen, sunglasses with a UV filter, and a hat for the sun.
    Sandals and trekking poles can be useful for water crossings.
  • In fall, be sure to check with park rangers about trail conditions. The higher-altitude sections may have snowfall.
  • In Villa Cerro Castillo, you’ll find lodging, food, tourist excursions, horseback rides, and more.
    There are great spots here for climbing aficionados, such as Mount El Peñón.
  • The Carretera Austral Sur crosses through the park in a 15.5-mile route from which you can enjoy the landscapes as well as spot animals such as Huemules (South Andean Deer). Please remember not to exceed 37 mph (60 km/hour) in order to avoid accidents.
  • The Cerro Castillo National Park administrative offices and the park’s main entrance are in the Laguna Chiguay sector, 35 miles south of Coyhaique. That is also the location of the Las Horquetas trailhead. You can also enter the park at Villa Cerro Castillo, if you’d like to do the day hike to Laguna Cerro Castillo.
  • For more information about the Las Horquetas–Cerro Castillo route, visit: http://www.parquenacionalcerrocastillo.cl/trekking-parque-nacional-cerro-castillo/.
  • Remember to register with the park rangers at Laguna Chiguay before beginning the circuit. Check prices at: http://www.parquenacionalcerrocastillo.cl/tarifas-horarios-parque-nacional-cerro-castillo/.
  • The entry fee to the National Park costs $10,000 CLP for Chileans and foreigners.

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