Chilean Patagonia – Tour through Chaitén, Futaleufú and Palena

Who I am
Carlos Laforet Coll
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Have you ever thought about getting to know one of the most preserved nature regions in South America? We are going to tell you what Chilean Patagonia is like, and we invite you to embark on this journey with us. Let's go?

In an area with more than 2.800 km of extension, there are numerous itineraries to discover in Chilean Patagonia. It is possible to do them all in one go through the Carreteira Austral, which runs along the Patagonia Parks Route, but it takes a few months on the road to discover all its beauties and national parks.

For a first trip to the region, a great itinerary is to visit Patagonia Verde, which stretches from Puerto Montt to the Corcovado National Park, in Los Lagos. Recognized as one of the most unspoilt destinations in all of Chile, this route passes through fjords and bucolic villages on the Pacific coast, through pristine national parks, volcanoes, waterfalls, rivers and imposing glaciers to the encounter with the typical gaucho culture in the middle of the snow. Andes mountain range.

The Los Lagos Tourism Department invited me to visit the region on a tour that lasted three days. But, the ideal is to go to this destination calmly. So you can experience the best of the trails, gastronomy, accommodation and reception of the local people. With that in mind, I created an itinerary with tips to enjoy the best of this region in seven days.

Arrival in Chaiten, the gateway to Patagonia Verde. Photo: Virginia Falanghe

In this post you will read:

  • 7-day itinerary through Patagonia Verde
    • 1st day – Puerto Montt and Puerto Varas
    • 2nd day – Chaiten and Chana
    • 3rd and 4th day – Douglas Tompkins National Park
    • 5th and 6th day – Futaleufu
    • 7º deer – Boundary
  • Chile travel insurance

7-day itinerary through Patagonia Verde

Pumalín National Park. Photo: Virginia Falanghe

To get to the north of Chilean Patagonia, you have to go to the city of Puerto Montt. There are direct flights that connect Santiago to the city, which is the gateway to the region. A good tip is to sit on the left side of the plane to enjoy the view from the top of the Andes mountains.

The best time to visit Chilean Patagonia is between November and April. During this period, the weather is mild, the days are sunny and the conditions for trails and roads improve.

When organizing your itinerary for Patagonia Verde, be sure to include travel insurance for Chile – essential for doing the activities that this destination offers safely and peacefully.

1st day – Puerto Montt and Puerto Varas

Puerto Varas, picturesque city of Germanic influence. Photo: Virginia Falanghe

Although the disembarkation will be in the port city of Puerto Montt, I recommend that you look for Puerto Varas to stay. The neighboring town is 30 minutes from Puerto Montt and is more interesting.

Also known as the “city of roses”, Puerto Varas enchants with its Germanic architecture and all the make-believe city look. The view of nature embracing the city is impressive, and one of the highlights is the largest lake in the Los Lagos region, Lake Llanquihue, which is also located there.

Take advantage of the moment of appreciation to go to the Plaza de Armas pier and contemplate the horizon with the Osorno and Calbuco volcanoes. You can even include a cable car ride with a privileged view of the volcanoes and, depending on the season, snow skiing.

If you like to know the historical heritage, do the Heritage Circuit of Puerto Varas. The circuit is less than 6 kilometers long and can be done on foot or by bicycle. The architecture of Puerto Varas will take you back in time.

Where to stay in Puerto Varas

Hotel Puelche, in Puerto Varas. Photo: Virginia Falanghe

Take the opportunity to spend the night in Puerto Varas and recover your energy to continue your tour. O Hotel Puelche It's perfect for you to get into the mood of the city, as well as being super cozy. It is small, with just 21 rooms, and has Germanic architecture. The rooms are large, very comfortable and well equipped. Breakfast is included in the rate.

My special tip for this accommodation is: stay in the premium room and guarantee a privileged view of the lake and volcanoes. Also, be sure to try the house hamburger – one of the best in town. And, if you need to relax, the hotel also offers a wellness area with sauna and therapeutic massages.

Location: Imperial 695 Esq Itata, Puerto Varas

  • Rates from US$93
  • Overall Guest Rating: 8,3 / 467 reviews
  • Offers free cancellation (see conditions)
  • Nearby attractions: Pablo Fierro Museum (0,1 km), Llanquihue Lake (0,2 km) and Dreams Casino (0,6 km)

2nd day – Chaiten and Chana

Traditional lunch in Chana, a community north of Chaitén, in Chilean Patagonia.

Now that you've recovered your energy and are inspired by the landscapes of Puerto Varas, it's time to head to Chaitén. Return to Puerto Montt and, at Aerodromo La Paloma, take a small plane to Chaitén, a 30-minute journey. For those who have time, another way to get to Chaitén is by boat, which promises to be an even more scenic route.

The city is known for surviving the eruption of the Chaitén volcano in 2009. The impact was devastating and, for a time, Chaitén was known as a “ghost town”. Currently, the city has recovered, offers a lot of tourist support and it is possible to walk through the streets and learn more about its history.

The traditional house in Chana, Artesania Dewekafe. Photo: Virginia Falanghe

In fact, the Chaitén Museum has a great exhibition about the volcano, the eruption and everything related to this moment. Some travelers take the opportunity to visit areas that still retain some remnants of the volcano's eruption.

In addition to visiting the Chaitén volcano, the city is chosen by travelers who are going to visit the Pumalin Douglas Tompkins National Park. Now, if you want to find a place with typical food for lunch, I recommend Artesania Dewekafe, which offers a typical gastronomic experience of the region. The restaurant is located in Chana, a seaside village next to Chaitén, and reservations are required to visit it.

Where to stay in Chaiten

O Chucao Forest and Cabins It is a lovely cabin in the middle of the woods, but with perks such as in-room kitchen and fireplace. In addition, it has wi-fi and has complete privacy. The cool thing about this option is that, despite being so surrounded by nature, it is close to the city. It's the best of both worlds in one place.

The cabin has private parking and there are also services such as car rental there, if you want to go through the region. Finally, it is an accommodation committed to maintaining environmental sustainability in the region.

Location: Arturo Prat s/n, Chaiten

  • Rates from US$68
  • Overall Guest Rating: 9,0 / 183 reviews
  • Offers free cancellation (see conditions)
  • Nearby attractions: Rio Yelcho (12 km), Pumalin Oeste Park (15 km) and Pumalin Sur Park (25 km)

3rd and 4th day – Douglas Tompkins National Park

The trails with millenary Alerces trees in Pumalín Park

Entrance to the scenic Pumalín Park, in Patagonia Verde. Photo: Virginia Falanghe

Douglas Tompkins National Park is an example of how nature touches the human heart. The park's land was gradually purchased by American environmental activist Douglas Tompkins. His idea was to establish a wide area of ​​environmental protection, preventing destruction by logging.

The area of ​​more than 400 thousand hectares was donated to the government of Chile in 2018. The donation was made by Douglas Tompkins' widow, after his death in a kayaking accident in 2015, fulfilling the promise to transfer the land to the government , just as Tompkins wanted. Chile now has a network of parks the size of Switzerland.

Knowing this history, it's hard not to want to wander through Douglas Tompkins National Park. With an enchanting natural beauty, it hosts trails of the most diverse levels – from walks through the forest to trails to glaciers and volcanoes.

It is also possible to camp at specific points in the park, where there is a kitchen and bathroom infrastructure, but you have to pay a fee. Visiting the park is free and it is one of the most unmissable tours in the Chilean Patagonia itinerary.

Where to stay in Douglas Tompkins National Park

The sun's rays in the preserved and evergreen forest of Pumalin Park. Photo: Virginia Falanghe

In addition to the option of camping in the park itself, it is possible to stay in more comfortable accommodations in Chaitén. At Michimahuida Park Cabins you guarantee a stay by the river, in addition to the space being comfortable and overlooking the snowy mountains. The accommodation is at the southern entrance to the Park and Pumalin and is super charming, made of wood and stones, something typical of Chilean Patagonia. 

It is a holiday home with a barbecue, kitchen and fireplace, being the ideal place to connect with nature. There's no wi-fi and the phone doesn't work very well, so take the opportunity to disconnect from the hustle and bustle of everyday life. ?

Location: Carretera Austral km 237, Chaiten

  • Rates from US$120
  • Overall Guest Rating: 9,3 / 106 reviews
  • Offers free cancellation (see conditions)
  • Nearest attractions: Michimahuida River (0,1 km), Yelcho River (2,0 km) and Yelcho Lake (9,0 km)

5th and 6th day – Futaleufu

The view from the viewpoint in Futaulefú, a village recognized worldwide for having one of the best rivers in the world for rafting. Photo: Virginia Falanghe

Futaleufu River. Photo: Virginia Falanghe

Futaleufú is a charming village, about 3 hours drive from Chaitén, known for offering adventure tourism. The name of the village is the same as the river, responsible for taking so many tourists to venture into the waters, and means “Rio Grande”.

The region has one of the three best rivers in the world for kayaking and rafting. In addition, the trails are perfect for trekking and mountain biking. 

In the 12 thousand hectares of Futaleufú National Park, you will find a rich variety of native species. In addition, there are options for horseback riding tours and stops at strategic viewpoints.

Take advantage of the stop in the quiet town to try the local cuisine. At the Martin Pescador restaurant, you can taste the best of organic cuisine, with good regional wines. The place has a very cozy rustic style and advance reservations are required.

Where to stay in Futaleufu

Hotel Antigua Casona, a typical and cozy lodging. Photo: Virginia Falanghe

You'll feel like you're in another time Hotel Antigua Casona, with the whole alpine look in wood. It is an option that is just a 5-minute walk from the center. The service is very friendly and helpful, while the rooms have a unique cosiness, with a view of the mountains. 

The wi-fi works well, but it is quite possible that you spend hours chatting in the restobar, accompanied by finger-licking Italian cuisine and good drink, and end up forgetting about the internet. Also enjoy the delicious continental breakfast, included in the rate.

Location: Calle Manuel Rodriguez 215, Futaleufú

  • Rates from US$110
  • Overall Guest Rating: 8,7 / 59 reviews
  • Offers free cancellation (see conditions)
  • Nearby Attractions: Rio Espolon (1,0 km), Rio Futaleufu (2,0 km), and Futaleufu National Park (10,1 km)

7º deer – Boundary

We were welcomed by the local community in Palena. This is Senhora Alicia, who serves delicious regional sweets on the border between Argentina and Chile. Photo: Virginia Falanghe

California Valley in Palena. Photo: Virginia Falanghe

The beautiful snowy roads of the Cordillera de los Andes – incredible scenery on the route through Chilean Patagonia. Photo: Virginia Falanghe

The community of Palena is perfect to close the itinerary through Chilean Patagonia with a beautiful community-based tourism. The city is outside the tourist axis of the austral road, already on the border with Argentina. The peaceful village is home to landscapes and a little-known gaucho culture.

Some worthwhile tours are the trekking to Cascada Tronador and activities around Rio Encuentro and Valle California. Be sure to sample the flavors of the region with the lovely lady Alicia, in her little shop El Encuentro, on the border. The community has less than 2 inhabitants and maintains a unique tradition that unites Chilean and Argentinean culture.

Where to stay in Palena

In Palena, you can stay at La rosadita restaurant or Andean Backwater. They are charming and welcoming options, just like the city.

La rosadita restaurant:

  • Rates from US$45
  • Overall Guest Rating: 9,2 / 14 reviews
  • Offers free cancellation (see conditions)
  • Nearby attractions: Cerro la Cruz (0,1 km) and Rio Palena (3,0 km)

Andean Backwater:

  • Rates from US$60
  • Overall Guest Rating: 9,4 / 21 reviews
  • Offers free cancellation (see conditions)
  • Nearby attractions: Rio Tigre (0 km), Rio Palena (0,1 km) and Pico Moro (5,0 km)

A typical party after a Patagonian Asado in Palena. Photo: Virginia Falanghe

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