Tamango National Reserve is a beautiful protected area of 6,925 hectares, nestled between three mountains, Cerros Tamango (1,722 m), Tamanguito (1,485 m), and Húngaro (1,214 m). Conservación Patagónica’s Patagonia Park, in the Chacabuco Valley, lies on one side of these mountains. Both of these protected areas are committed to the conservation of huemules through the provision of safe, open habitat, and together, their joined territory represents one of the largest habitation ranges remaining in Patagonia.
The Route of the Huemul Festival was created to celebrate and promote understanding of this endangered animal. The event takes place during the last weekend in January and includes a variety of activities; film premiers, lectures, cultural events, great local food and music. The main event of the festival is a two-day, 26 Km trek that travels between Patagonia Park and the Tamango National Reserve.
You can hike the Route of the Huemul independently during the rest of the year; many of the area’s specialized guides are experts in the route. The trek initiates from Conservación Patagónica’s Patagonia Park Visitor Center, bordering the slopes of the Cerro Tamanguito, to begin its gradual climb up to the Atlas area. You’ll want your camera handy because there is little doubt that you will find herds of guanacos roaming these hills. Next you’ll follow the trail to the Escondida Lagoon where you find yourself immersed in the heart of huemul habitat. If you hope to observe them, hike quietly and keep a close watch because they are shy and very well camouflaged among the shrubs and trees. If you’re lucky enough to encounter a huemul, maintain a respectful distance and demeanor; do not interrupt their daily life and habits and limit your interactions to photos, taken at a distance, so that you do not cause stress or shock.
The route continues toward Cochrane Lake; on clear days you’ll have great panoramic views of Cerro San Lorenzo and can even spot Argentina! The trail makes a long descent to the Paleta Beach in the Tamango National Reserve where you can camp for the night.
The second day of hiking follows gentle slopes that parallel the Cochrane River, on the way to the Conaf Visitor Reception Center. From this place you can walk toward Cochrane by a gravel road or coordinate the return by taxi or other transportation. If you don’t accommodate the date of the festival, don’t worry! You can also make the trip independently between November and April, when there is no snow in these hills.