The Tehuelche people called this area «the desolate place where the devil dwells,» perhaps a nod to its strange, moon-like beauty. Pali Aike National Park is located 122 miles from Punta Arenas, near Chile’s border with Argentina. Low-lying volcanic cones, caves, various types of craters, basalt walls, and lava scoria tell the story of recent volcanic eruptions in this paradise for geologists, volcanologists, and anthropologists. Eleven thousand years ago, native people traveled by foot across the plateau, which never reaches an altitude of more than 660 feet. Today, the Magellanic steppe is home to diverse wildlife, including Guanacos, Foxes, and Ñandús.

Can’t Miss

  • Visit the Pali Aike cave, which has been declared a National Monument.
  • Hike to the «Morada del Diablo» crater, enjoying views of the fields of cones and basaltic lavas, evidence of the most recent volcanic eruptions, which occurred after the latest Ice Age.
  • Birdwatch in Laguna Ana, where you can find Black-Necked Swans, Taguas (Red-Gartered Coots), and Patos Jergones (Yellow-Billed Pintails), among others.
  • The highest point in the park is the Diablo peak, at 896 feet above sea level.

Open

October to April

Area

12,429 acres

Climate

Semi-arid, with winter rains

Rainfall

8 to 12 inches annually

Ecosystem

Magellanic Patagonian steppe

Founded

October 23, 1970

“No one can stand in these solitudes unmoved, and not feel that there is more in man than the mere breath of his body”,

Charles Darwin.

Flora

The dry, spiky Coirón is the central feature of the Magellanic Steppe. Other notable flora in the park include Mata Negra, Mata Gris, and Mata Amarilla, three colors of a high-mountain flowering shrub. In the crevasses, Paramela, Ferns, and Anemones grow, while Lichen colonize the lava crusts, patiently breaking down the volcanic rock and forming organic material. In summer, you can find the berries of the Murtilla and Calafate (Magellan Barberry) plants.

Fauna

Guanacos are a common sight on the plateau. You can also frequently spot Foxes, Chingues (Molina’s Hog-Nosed Skunk), Armadillos, and Ñandús. Pumas also make their home in the park, along with a wide variety of birds, including the Flamingo and the Coscoroba Swan, as well as Cernicalos (Common Kestrels), Caiquenes (Sheldgeese), Aguiluchos (Red-Backed Hawks), Varis, and Águilas Moras (Black-Chested Buzzard Eagles).

Culture

Junios Bird studied the remains of three cremated skeletons, arrowheads, and vestiges of extinct fauna, which had been discovered in the Fell Cave and the Pali Aike Cave in 1930. These findings provided glimpses of human presence in the area dating back around 11,000 years. In more recent times, Pali Aike was the territory of the Aonikenks or Tehuelches, a nomadic people that inhabited the Patagonia. 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

Pali Aike lies 122 miles northwest of Punta Arenas on the international route CH-255, the road to the Monte Aymond border crossing. At kilometer 168/mile 104, take the detour, and drive 16 miles on the gravel road to arrive at the park.

You can also take a bus from the rural terminal to Villa Punta Delgada, which is 16 miles from the park.

Various local tour agencies offer day trips to the park from Punta Arenas.

Punta Arenas is the main port of entry and exit for voyages to Puerto Montt, the Antarctic, and Ushuaia. From Punta Arenas, travel 122 miles northwest in car to arrive to Pali Aike.

LATAM and Sky Airlines offer daily flights to Punta Arenas from Santiago or Puerto Montt. From Punta Arenas, you can get to the park in a rental car or by hiring a local tour operator.

DAP Airlines also offers flights a few times a week from Balmaceda to Punta Arenas.

Trails

Laguna Ana–Cueva Pali Aike Trail

  • Difficulty

    Medium

  • Duration

    4 hours total

  • Distance

    11 miles (out and back)

  • Open

    October to April

The lagoon is an ideal spot for birdwatching, while the cave was the site of an important archeological discovery, where traces of human activity dating back 11,000 years were found.

Starting Point: Pali Aike Parking Lot.

Morada del Diablo–Pozo del Diablo Trail

  • Difficulty

    Medium

  • Duration

    2.45 hours

  • Distance

    4.6 miles total

  • Open

    October to April

The trail passes through lava scoria, leading to craters formed by eruptions dating back 16,000 years.

Starting Point: Second parking lot

Cueva Pali Aike Trail

  • Difficulty

    Low

  • Duration

    30 minutes (one way)

  • Distance

    2,000 feet (one way)

  • Open

    October to April

Declared a National Monument, the Pali Aike Cave was the site of an archeological discovery, where traces of human activity dating back 11,000 years––the oldest in the region––were found.

Starting Point: Second parking lot or Laguna Ana

Tips

  • Spring and summer have the least precipitation, though the winds are the strongest during these seasons.
  • There is little precipitation in the park, with only 8 to 10 inches of rainfall annually.
  • This is an excellent park for birdwatching. Binoculars can be very useful and will also help for getting closer views of large bird species, such as the Ñandú.
  • In Punta Arenas, various tour agencies offer day trips to Pali Aike.
  • We recommend using gloves and trekking poles, especially when hiking near the craters, to avoid hurting your hands if you trip and fall on the volcanic rock.
  • There is quite a bit of wind in the area, though average temperatures are mild––around 50 degrees F.
  • The park lies 122 miles from Punta Arenas, and though there is no public transportation to the park entrance, you can take a bus from the rural bus terminal to Villa Punta Delgada, which is located 16 miles from the park.
  • Park entry costs $1,500 CLP for Chileans and $3,000 CLP for foreigners.

Copyright 2018 Ruta de los Parques de la Patagonia

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