San Rafael’s magnificent landscapes are a mosaic of fjords, channels, islands, inlets, and ice. Declared a Biosphere Reserve, the park is the main port of entry to Chile’s Northern Icefields and the second-largest National Park in the country. The San Rafael Glacier attracts visitors from all over the world, who set out from Puerto Chacabuco or Puerto Tranquilo to admire its vast, untouched horizons and its biodiversity. Charles Darwin, Fitz Roy, and Alberto de Agostini are just a few of the historical figures who have helped spread the word about this wonderful hidden corner of Aysén.

Can’t Miss

  • Walk across the Exploradores Glacier.
  • Drive Route X-78, which reaches the park 32 miles west of Puerto Tranquilo and offers gorgeous views of forests, rivers, dozens of waterfalls, hanging glaciers, and snowy peaks.
  • Take Route X-78 to Monte San Valentín (12,830 feet above sea level), the highest peak in Patagonia.
  • Cross Laguna San Rafael in boat to see the glacier and observe icefalls.
  • Visit Lake Los Leones, via the valley that shares its name.

Open

Year-round

Area

4,305,683 acres

Climate

Rainy and temperate; polar at altitude

Rainfall

120 to 200 inches annually

Ecosystem

Evergreen forest, high-mountain forest, and periglacial shrubland

Founded

June 17, 1967

“In a reciprocal rhythm, beauty enhances life and life becomes beautiful”,

Sandra Luborsky.

Flora

In the park, you can find tree species such as the Coigüe de Magallanes and Coigüe de Chiloé, along with Mañíos, Canelos, Tepa, Ciprés de las Guaitecas (Pilgerodendron), Tineo, Ulmo, and others. Among bushes, Calafate (Magellan Barberry), Michay Blanco, Chaura, Escalonia, and Pangue are just a few of the many species present in the park.

Fauna

The Huemul (South Andean Deer) finds a perfect habitat here, as do the Puma and Guiña (Kodkod). Its fjords and channels are home to Toninas (Commerson’s Dolphins), Sea Lions, Chungungos (Marine Otters), Huillín (Southern River Otters), and Sea Leopards, and its forests are home to Chucaos and Hued Hueds, among other birds.

Culture

The parklands are ancestral territory of the Chono people, a nomadic people who navigated the islands and channels in their canoes, moving between the south of Chiloé and the Taitao Peninsula. They hunted Sea Lions, fished, and gathered shellfish and seaweed along the coast.

infrastructure

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

How to Get There

From Coyhaique, travel south on the Carretera Austral (Route 7) for around 134 miles, before arriving at Puerto Tranquilo. From there, take Route X-78 toward Exploradores Valley for 32 miles.

To get to Coyhaique from Puerto Chacabuco, take Route 240 for 48 miles, until you arrive at the pier where boats set out for Laguna San Rafael.

Buses travel regularly from Coyhaique to Puerto Chacabuco and Puerto Tranquilo. From either of the latter towns, you can take a boat to the park. Schedules are available in the bus terminal in Coyhaique.

Five-night (round-trip) cruises are available from Puerto Montt to Laguna San Rafael. Find more information at: (www.skorpios.cl)

There are also various day trips to Laguna San Rafael available in Puerto Chacabuco.

Finally, you can also visit the San Rafael Glacier from Puerto Tranquilo, crossing the Exploradores River Valley until you reach Puerto Grosse. From there, various boats make day trips to the lagoon.

Trips in small planes are available, taking off from Puerto Aysén and Coyhaique and landing on the shores of Laguna San Rafael. The flight takes around an hour.

Trails

Puntilla del Cisne Trail

  • Difficulty

    Low

  • Duration

    2 hours total

  • Distance

    -

  • Open

    Year-round

A walk from the pier to the base of the San Rafael Glacier.
Starting Point: Puntilla del Cisne

Boat Trip to San Rafael Glacier

  • Difficulty

    Low

  • Duration

    12 hours total

  • Distance

    -

  • Open

    Year-round

An excursion that offers a close-up view of the glacier wall, which is 1.25 miles wide and 164 feet tall. Visitors frequently catch glimpses of icefalls.

Starting Point: Puerto Chacabuco.

Ice Trek to Exploradores Glacier

  • Difficulty

    Media - Alta

  • Duration

    6 hours total, approximately

  • Distance

    -

  • Open

    Year-round

A hike through a leafy forest and a glacial moraine, ending at the ice.

Starting Point:32 miles west of Puerto Tranquilo.

Tips

  • The park offices and rangers’ headquarters can be found in the Laguna Caiquenes sector, near Laguna San Rafael.
  • The entrance fees to the park are ..

    Chileans

    18 to 59 years $ 4000
    12 to 17 years $ 2000
    Older 59 years exempt
    Less than 12 years exempt
    Different capacities
    Under 17 and older 59 years exempt
    18 to 59 years $ 2000

    Foreign

    Older 18 years $ 8000
    12 to 17 years $ 4000

    Flat rate for different capacities

  • Camping Laguna Area

    5,000 person / night max 6px per site + park admission value per person

  • There are additional Conaf offices and stations in Puerto Tranquilo and Exploradores Valley.
  • There are areas of the park that don’t have any official trails open at this time but can still be explored with the help of local tour guides in Puerto Tranquilo and Puerto Guadal. One of these areas is Los Leones Valley. Guides offer hikes and horseback trips to the valley, where you can visit a lagoon and glacier, also called Los Leones.
  • The Ñadis sector marks the southeastern edge of the park. At the Ñadis campsite, located 28 miles south of Cochrane, you can organize hikes and horseback riding trips to Corte San Carlos, which has been declared a National Historical Monument.
  • Boat trips to Lake General Carrera’s «marble chapels» (Capillas de Mármol) are available at Puerto Tranquilo.

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