Starting Point

Puerto Montt

Ending Point

Chaitén

Duration

Between 5–8

Miles Traveled

127 miles from Puerto Montt to Chaitén

Hours in Boat

4.5 hours (in 3 ferries)

Parks Visited

Alerce Andino National Park

Hornopiren National Park

Pumalín Douglas Tompkins National Park

  • Parque Nacional Alerce Andino

  • Parque Nacional Pumalín Douglas Tompkins

  • Parque Nacional Pumalín Douglas Tompkins

  • Parque Nacional Alerce Andino

  • Parque Nacional Pumalín Douglas Tompkins

  • Parque Nacional Alerce Andino

The
Route

1

From Puerto Montt, head south on the Carretera Austral toward Caleta La Arena. Pass the Lenca bridge and, 0.6 miles later, turn left onto Route V-701. Drive 4.5 miles until you reach the Chaica sector of Alerce Andino National Park, which has campsites for hikers only (El Chucao) as well as picnic areas. The longest trail is the Laguna Triángulo trail, which is only open in summer because there is a section of the route where you need to wade the La Plata River. If you’re interested in a shorter hike, we suggest taking the trail only to the Chaica Falls.

For lodging your first night, you can stay in the campsites available in Alerce Andino National Park or continue on to Hornopirén, where you’ll find various options for lodging. To get to Hornopirén, take the ferry to Caleta Puelche (no prior reservation required) and then continue driving south until you reach the town.

1 hour in car from Puerto Montt to the Chaica Sector of Alerce Andino National Park
30 minutes in car from the Chaica Sector to Caleta La Arena
30 minutes in ferry from Caleta La Arena to Caleta Puelche
1 hour in car from Caleta Puelche to Hornopirén
2

We recommend setting aside a whole day to visit Hornopirén National Park. First, we suggest going to the Conaf (park ranger) office, located in Hornopirén’s plaza (town square). There, you can find the most up-to-date information about the status of the park’s different trails.

To get to Hornopirén National Park, head from the Plaza de Armas (town square) in the direction of the Chaqueihua Alto sector for 6.5 miles, where you can find the Conaf (park ranger) station. There, you’ll register to enter the park and can also park your car. From there, continue on foot for 4.5 miles through property that is private––but open to the public for those visiting the park––until you reach the park entrance.

You can stay in the rustic campsites at Laguna Pinto Concha or return to Hornopirén, where you’ll find various alternatives for lodging.

20 minutes in car from Hornopirén to the Chaqueihua Alto sector, where the trail to enter Hornopirén National Park begins
8 hours of hiking (out and back) from the beginning of the trail to Laguna Pinto Concha
3

Today, you’ll take the ferry through the Comau Fjord. Be sure to make a prior reservation in www.taustral.cl. At the dock in Hornopirén, you’ll find a Transportes Austral office where you can also buy tickets, though we recommend buying them in advance online, especially for trips in January and February, when demand is highest.

The voyage to Leptepu takes 3.5 hours. This scenic trip offers views of some of the most beautiful coastline on the planet, where evergreen forests reach down into the fjords, bordered by granite walls and glaciers. Some of the glaciers flow into waterfalls, giving life to an already gorgeous landscape. You’ll also pass by the Quintupeo and Cahuelmó fjords.

Once you reach Leptepu, continue 6 miles along a gravel road until you arrive at Fiordo Largo, where you’ll need to cross in a ferry, which you can reserve in advance at www.taustral.cl. After 45 minutes, you’ll cross the Reñihué Fjord and arrive at Caleta Gonzalo, where you’ll find the first campsites in Pumalín Park, along with cabins and a café.

You can camp or lodge in this area, or continue south, where you’ll find 5 more camping areas in the park. You can also continue to Chaitén, which is located 34 miles south of Caleta Gonzalo, where you’ll find a wide variety of lodging, restaurants, and other services.

3.5 hours in boat from Hornopirén to Leptepu
20 minutes of gravel road from Leptepu to Fiordo Largo
45 minutes in boat from Fiordo Largo to Caleta Gonzalo
4

We recommend setting aside at least one whole day to explore the various trails in Pumalín Park, although ideally, you’ll spend at least two days taking full advantage of what the park has to offer. Whether you stay in Caleta Gonzalo (the cabins require a prior reservation at reservas@parquepumalin.cl), in one of the park’s campsites (no prior reservation required), or in Chaitén or El Amarillo, you’ll have access to a network of hiking trails, and you can make plans based on the weather, your physical fitness, and the amount of time you have to spend in the park.

One can’t-miss hike is the Los Alerces trail, which allows you to get an up-close view of ancient Alerce trees and take in the evergreen forest in all its magnitude and splendor.

1.5 hours in car from Caleta Gonzalo to Chaitén
20 minutes in car from Chaitén to El Amarillo
5

If you are already out of time, you can return to Puerto Montt today, or head to your next destination. You can return via the same road to Hornopirén (the Bimodal Route) or take one of the ferries from Chaitén to Puerto Montt or Quellón. Check schedules at http://www.navieraustral.cl/.

Additional Options

You can also visit the Correntoso sector of Alerce Andino National Park, where you’ll find shorter trails, such as Laguna Sargazo. To get there from the Carretera Austral, take Route V-65 toward Correntoso for 12 miles until you reach the park information office, where you can ask about current trail conditions and which campsites are open to the public.

To get to Hornopirén from Caleta Puelche, you can also take the coastal road that starts in Conao and runs 37 miles to Hornopirén, passing through towns including La Poza and Aulén.

If you stay an extra night in Hornopirén, you can hike the trail up the Yates Volcano.

From Pumalín, you can return north without taking a ferry by crossing into Argentina via the Futaleufú Pass. If you decide to take this route, we recommend staying at least one night Futaleufú to explore this gorgeous mountain area. Once you’re in Argentina, continue north along Route 40 and return to Chile via the Cardenal Samoré International Pass, located 47 miles from Puyehue.

How to get to Puerto Montt

Puerto Montt is located 649 miles south of Santiago and is accessible along Route 5. From Argentina, it’s possible to arrive via Cardenal Antonio Samoré International Pass, located on Route 215.

How to get to Hornopirén

Hornopirén is located 68 miles south of Puerto Montt. Take the Carretera Austral to Caleta La Arena. At Caleta La Arena, take the first ferry you can board to Caleta Puelche (no prior reservation required). You can also get to Caleta Puelche from Cochamó and Puelo by taking Route V-69. From Caleta Puelche, continue south until you arrive at Hornopirén.

How to get to Chaitén

Chaitén is located 127 miles south of Puerto Montt. Take the Carretera Austral to Caleta La Arena and board the first ferry to Caleta Puelche. From Caleta Puelche, continue south to Hornopirén. At Hornopirén, you’ll take a ferry (the Hornopirén–Leptepu and Fiordo Largo–Caleta Gonzalo routes must be reserved in advance at www.taustral.cl). From Caleta Gonzalo, it’s 34 miles to Chaitén.

Tips for Your Trip

The road from Puerto Montt to Caleta La Arena is paved. The road from Caleta Puelche to Hornopirén has some sections that are gravel.

The road from Leptepu to Fiordo Largo is gravel, as well as the road from Caleta Gonzalo to Chaitén. The latter is currently being paved.

You can check the schedule for the ferry crossing the Reloncaví Estuary at http://transportesdelestuario.cl/. Remember to bring cash to pay for your tickets. No prior reservations are needed, and the price depends on vehicle type.

It’s important to reserve your spot on the ferry between Hornopirén and Caleta Gonzalo; you can do so at www.taustral.cl.

We recommend arriving at least an hour early to the ferry at Hornopirén, especially in January and February, when demand is highest.

There are gas stations in Chaitén and Hornopirén.

Always carry cash. There are ATMs in Hornopirén and Chaitén, but not in Caleta Gonzalo.

Remember to bring at least one spare tire.

To check the schedule and status of the border crossing, visit: http://www.pasosfronterizos.gov.cl/complejos-fronterizos/loslagos/paso-futaleufu/.

To check the status of the Cardenal Samoré International Pass, visit: http://www.pasosfronterizos.gov.cl/complejos-fronterizos/loslagos/paso-cardenal-samore/.

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