In response to information from the health authority regarding the spread of the Coronavirus (COVID-19), the National Forest Corporation (Conaf) has decided to temporarily close all national parks, national reserves and natural monuments until the health alert is lifted by health authorities.
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.
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.
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).
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.
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.
This walk winds arounds the gorgeous Laguna Chiguay and offers 328 feet of universally accessible trail.
Starting Point: Laguna Chiguay campsite
9 miles (out and back)
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
4 to 5 days (with approximately 8 hours of hiking each day)
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
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
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
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
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
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
Cross the largest lake in Chile from Puerto Ibáñez to Chile Chico to tour Jeinimeni and then cross the border to Paso Roballos. From there, returns to Chile to cross the impressive Chacabuco Valley, and then continue to Puerto Yungay to navigate the Kawésqar canals to Puerto Natales, the gateway to Torres del Paine.
Discover one of the most pristine areas of Patagonia, visiting Cerro Castillo National Park, and then head towards Puerto Tranquilo, the gateway to the Laguna San Rafael National Park. Continue south to explore the wonders of Patagonia National Park, Tortel and Villa O'Higgins.
Head south from Coyhaique along the Carretera Austral to Puerto Tranquilo, the gateway to Laguna San Rafael National Park, visiting the marble formations of General Carrera Lake from Puerto Sánchez. Return north to explore Cerro Castillo National Park.
Capital of the Aysén region and its largest urban area, located at the confluence of the Coyhaique and Simpson rivers.
This settlement contains the regional airport and is located near the border crossing of Huemules, leading to Argentina.
A lake port with a car ferry across Lake General Carrera to Chile Chico.
Near the border with Argentina, this small town is the capital of Torres del Paine and can be found 39 miles north of Puerto Natales.
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