Patagonia Park may be rugged, but you don’t have to be a hardcore adventurer to visit. With more than 720,000 acres, there’s something for everyone. Come from October to April (Chile’s spring and summer), and expect to spend at least five days.
GETTING TO THE PARK: Rent a 4×4 in Coyhaique, and head south on the Carretera Austral. The six-to eight-hour drive is a journey in its own right, along sketchy dirt roads, steep cliffs and snowcapped mountains.
WHERE TO STAY: Split the drive into two legs, and stop in Puerto Bertrand to stay at Konaiken, a rustic and friendly inn on the banks of the massive Baker River. For lodging in the park, options are few: There’s the super-upscale Lodge at Valle Chacabuco, which also has a fabulous restaurant ($280 to $800 a night), or the West Winds or Stone House campgrounds ($12 a day, no reservations needed). Backpackers can pitch tents pretty much anywhere, as long as they’re at least a mile from the park’s only road. There are no markets in the park, so provision in Coyhaique or head 45 minutes south to the town of Cochrane.
WHAT TO DO: Day hikers will want to take on the Lagunas Altas Trail, a 14-mile loop that offers staggering views of Lago Cochrane and the big mountains beyond. For backpacking, try the trail from Avilés into the Jeinimeni Reserve, a 31-mile out-and-back that can be done in four or five days. Local guides and outfitters can help with bigger excursions, as well as with fishing, rafting, kayaking, and mountain biking. Find them at the Patagonia Park website
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