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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.
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:
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.
Located south of Puerto Montt, Pumalín Park is home to millenary alerce (Fitzroya) trees and offers more than a dozen trails for exploring landscapes ranging from temperate rainforest to glaciers.
A pristine ecosystem that is difficult to access, this park consists of evergreen forest, fjords, bays, rivers, deep valleys and dozens of hidden lakes.
During February, the Chaitén townspeople hold a folkloric festival celebrating local traditions.
In February, the Patagonia marathon is held.
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