Grab a bike or 4x4 and let’s go discover the incredible nature around Puerto Aysén! Start your exploration in Puerto Aysén heading west on Route 240 in the direction of Puerto Chacabuco. You’ll probably want to stop right away for a few photos of the President Ibáñez Bridge which is a National Monument and the longest suspension bridge in Chile. It is an engineering marvel, stretching 210 meters in length with hundreds of huge metal cables to support the slab.
At the intersection of Route 240 and Route X-550, veer to the left. This road leads directly to Riesco Lake (22 Km), which is excellent for kayaking, fishing or just relaxing along the beach. The road is gravel and the slopes are gentle so it is ideal for bikes.
During the first part of the journey you’ll border the Aysén River which runs all the way to the Pacific Ocean. The river has several whitewater sections with class III rapids and is considered intermediate level for rafting or kayaking, mainly because of the challenges it presents in the sections where it joins the Mañihuales and Simpson Rivers. If you are interested in a kayak excursion, you can contact Aguahielo Expeditions, which offers several excursions in the area.
As you get closer to the lake, you’ll notice that the vegetation becomes denser and even lusher. Watch for calafate, one of the emblematic fruits of Patagonia. It grows on a medium sized, thorny, evergreen bush and produces a small, edible, purple berry during the summer months. Tehuelche legend says that people who eat calafate berries will be bound to Patagonia, so, if you’d like to come back some day, be sure to give these berries a try!
Around Km 15, you’ll see the small cable-ferry used for vehicle crossings of the Blanco River. The ferry is powered by the flow of the river and uses an interesting system of cables and pulleys, operated by the ferry master who lives nearby. The crossing has no cost and operates from Monday to Sunday between 8:30 to 12:30 and from 13:30 to 17:30.
Continuing straight on Route X-550 until kilometer 22, you will take a right along the entry road that leads to the Beach of Riesco Lake, a favorite summer spot for locals who enjoy this lake’s calm waters of glacial origin and the ancient myrtle trees that form the backdrop for the extensive beach.
From here, you can go back to Puerto Aysén or continue your adventure to the Condor River sector, 13 km further south. This stretch of the road is President Ibáñez Bridge more challenging, with steep slopes and lots of curves, but the scenery makes it worth the effort; vividly green native forests with coigües, tepas, canelos and thousands of ferns and mosses, contrasting with the whites of the waterfalls that cascade along the sides of the road. You’ll advance two more kilometers along Route X-550 and then veer to the right, following a winding farm road through the beautiful landscapes. The ride ends at Ciervo Creek, at the base of one of the most beautiful cascades and the Andrade Farm, owned by Don Juan Andrade, a settler who came to this area in the 1980s. If you have the opportunity, sit and talk with him; he is an expert on the area and has lots of great stories to share.