Villa O’Higgins marks the end of the Carretera Austral and the beginning of Chile’s Southern Ice Fields. The town is located in the midst of a gorgeous, pristine, and remote landscape, at the mouth of the Mayer River and the O’Higgins Lake, which is the deepest lake on the American continent at 2743 feet deep. The lake was formed by the O’Higgins Glacier.

Francisco Moreno explored the area in 1877. In 1889, Hans Steffen came to investigate the outlet of O’Higgins Lake, which was later divided into equal parts between Chile and Argentina in 1902, through British arbitration. The first settlers arrived in 1914, but the town wasn’t incorporated until 1966. It was named in honor of Chilean independence leader Bernardo O’Higgins.

Lodging, Food, and Activities

You can find lodging, food, and activities for tourists in Villa O’Higgins.

Region

O'Higgins

Province

Capitán Prat

Population

600

Climate and Rainfall

Rainy and Temperate, 39 inches annually

Nearest National Park(s)

Bernardo O’Higgins National Park

Don’t Miss

  • Hike up the Santiago peak on the La Bandera trail for a panoramic view of the village.
  • Take a full-day boat trip to the imposing O’Higgins Glacier and the Chico Glacier.
  • Set out on one of the trekking routes in the area. There are several available, depending on the amount of time you have available and your trekking experience and physical condition. Some of the options include Alta Vista, Mirador del Valle, and the El Tigre Glacier and the El Mosco Glacier trails.
  • Explore the 81-mile route that combines trekking, rowing or boating, and bus trips, connecting Villa O’Higgins and El Chaltén in Argentina, via the Laguna del Desierto. It’s not possible to make this trip in car. For more information, go to: http://www.villaohiggins.com/crossing/index.htm.
  • Administración Parque Glaciar Mosco

  • Administración Parque Glaciar Mosco

  • Administración Parque Glaciar Mosco

How to get

Villa O’Higgins is located at the end of the Carretera Austral, 357 miles south of Coyhaique and 136 miles south of Cochrane.

To get to Villa O’Higgins, you’ll need to cross the Mitchell Fjord. You do not need to book the ferry in advance, but we do suggest checking the schedules beforehand at:
http://www.barcazafiordomitchell.cl/

There are no direct public transit options between Coyhaique and Villa O’Higgins along the Carretera Austral. However, you can get there on public transit by combining the following routes:

Coyhaique – Cochrane – Villa O’Higgins.
Coyhaique – Cochrane – Tortel – Villa O’Higgins.
Chile Chico – Cochrane – Villa O’Higgins.

Download here public transport itineraries in low season.

Austral Broom Ferries (www.tabsa.cl) offers routes between Puerto Yungay and Puerto Natales in a voyage that takes approximately 41 hours. Prior reservations are required. The ferry also stops in Puerto Edén.

Aerocord offers twice-weekly flights (Mondays and Thursdays) from Coyhaique to Villa O’Higgins on two-engine planes that can carry 7 passengers. The trip takes around 1 hour 15 minutes. It’s important to reserve well in advance, as residents of Villa O’Higgins have priority. For more information or to reserve a flight, contact: +56-67-2246300 / email: gcardenas@aerocord.cl.

Tips

  • We recommend contacting local guides before setting out on any trekking excursions.
  • Check the schedule for the ferry between Puerto Yungay and Río Bravo at: http://www.barcazafiordomitchell.cl/.
  • Boat trips on O’Higgins Lake leave from Bahamondes Bay, 4.3 miles south of Villa O’Higgins. They run from September to April. The boats have a 56-person capacity and you need to make a reservation in advance. They do not run every day. Find more information about schedules and pricing and make your reservations at: http://www.villaohiggins.com/hielosur/index.htm.
  • There’s a Copec gas station, which sells road maps.
  • Camping gear is available at hardware stores in town.
  • There’s a Chilean Navy base 4.6 miles from Villa O’Higgins where you can find information about crossing to Candelaria Mansilla.
  • We recommend registering with the Carabineros (Chilean police) before setting out on one of the more difficult trekking routes (Tigre Glacier/Mosco Glacier/Alta Vista).
  • Free Wi-Fi is available at the library.
  • The company Transporte El Pilo offers trips to Cristi Lake.
  • Bus companies Águilas Patagónicas, Acuario 13, San Carlos, and Sao Pablo offer daily routes between Coyhaique and Cochrane.
  • The company Mini Bus Vultur Patagonia offers routes from Tortel to Villa O’Higgins.
  • Buses Aldea, Mini Buses Cordillera, and Buses Águila Patagónica offer trips from Cochrane to Tortel.

Basic Services

  • Gas Station
  • “Caja Vecina” (Rural Bank Services)
  • Rural Health Services
  • Auto Repair Shop
  • Cell Service
  • Police Station
  • Visitor’s Center
  • Aerodrome
  • Conaf (Park Rangers)

Visitor’s Center

The visitor’s center is located in the Villa O’Higgins Plaza. It’s open during tourist high season only. To contact,

+56 67 2431899

Important Dates

In February, the community holds its “Tropeando pa’ no olvidar”––or “Don’t Forget the Cowboy Ways”––festival.

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