How to use this guide

How to use this guide
Aysén Information

Within this web site you?ll find information and resources to help you design a unique journey through Patagonia, exploring amazing wilderness areas and quaint small villages in the region of Aysén.

We’ll introduce you to a region full of life and biodiversity, incredible scenery, rich flavors, music and dance, fascinating people and things to do! Get your cameras ready to capture the unique light and landscapes within the pristine Patagonian wilderness you’ll visit and prepare your hearts for the local culture filled with men and women who embrace the very definition of self-reliance, independence and rural tradition. We will share secrets that will help you to explore every corner of Aysén, preparing you to immerse yourself in the authentic and unique, unlike any other guide you’ll encounter. 

In the Introduction, we’ll help you prepare for coming to Patagonia with practical tips for planning a successful trip; one that’s tailored to your preferences for adventure, safety and relaxation. You’ll be presented with options for getting here and back, travelling around the region, choosing where and when to visit and the differences in each of the five cultural areas that make up the Region of Aysén.

Why are there five different areas?

Look at the territory of Aysén on a map. It’s huge! And the landscape is completely different from the rest of Chile.

Begin with the west, with the area of fjords and channels. For Chileans part of learning geography in school involved drawing the map of South America, and the worst nightmare was when you were chosen as the student to draw the southern cone, because you could spend hours and hours sketching the hundreds of small, seemingly endless islands and islets of Patagonian Aysén. Can you imagine? These archipelagos are the continuance of the mountains along the coast, but, here, as a result of tectonic movements and the numerous glaciations that there was in the area, they mountains have been fractured into thousands of intricate parts, like a giant jigsaw picture. It may be a nightmare to draw, but it is a tremendous privilege to navigate within this tangled web of islands, with their impenetrable evergreen forests that slip down toward the sea. Look again at the map of Aysén, this time toward the middle and compare it to the map of Chile’s entirety. You'll notice that most of Chile is dominated by a central valley, well-formed between the two mountain ranges that run north to south, In Aysén, this valley does not exist! Instead, you’ll find the Moraleda Channel, the main route of maritime navigation for the region. The cordillera of the Andes begins almost immediately upon reaching the mainland, jetting up from sea-level with abrupt changes in altitude and the still-present ice of the last glacial advances. Between these mountain ranges and the fragmented coastline, there are huge watersheds of freshwater rivers and lakes; liquid giants of mythical Patagonian proportions! An example is the well-known Baker, the most powerful river of Chile, and the General Carrera Lake, the second largest in South America. Need we say more about the unique physical characteristics of Aysén? Well yes, it is definitely worth mentioning that this region is home to the Northern and Southern Patagonia Ice Fields, which are the third largest extension of continental ice in the world, after Antarctica and Greenland.

Wondering where the villages fit in with all this enormous nature? Well, the amazing diversity of landscapes and ecosystems that exist in the region have definitely influenced the development of Aysén, dictating where, how and why people chose to settle in a particular place. Most of the populated areas are located in the relatively small valleys between the mountains, and they are typically spread apart, from each other, sprinkled from La Junta in the north to Villa O’Higgins in the south and from the islands in the west to the pampas of the eastern side of the Patagonian Andes, near the border with Argentina. Until relatively recently (50 years ago, give or take), there were no roads connecting these villages and contact between the small settlements was extremely difficult. People travelled for days and week via horse, or challenged the waters and the wind, sailing through the fjords, lakes or rivers in small boats, to reach the ports where they could access medical services, schools and commerce. Many times the weather conditions of the zone meant months of complete isolations, waiting for passable breaks that would make travel possible.

These geographic factors influenced not only the location of settlements; but also, the formation of different cultural identities within the region. For example, the culture of the fjords is very different to that of the communities around General Carrera Lake (also known as Chelenko).  As you travel through Aysén, you can choose to explore five distinct areas, each with its own cultural identity, forged in connection with its particular geography and biodiversity: Palena-Queulat, Fjords and Channels, Aysén - Simpson, Chelenko, and Baker - O'Higgins. To experience them all in their entirety you'd need years and perhaps lifetimes, and since we know you have limited time and resources, we have divided each zone into interesting itineraries that will allow you to experience the landscapes, nature and people for yourself, without spending all your time on buses, vehicles and ferries.  

A Section for each Area

The site is organized with content related to each of the 5 Areas so you can find your way around. We provide all the tools to plan your own unique adventure, tailored to your tastes, needs and time. Each section represents one of the five cultural areas, presenting in-depth descriptions of the experiences and adventures of independent travelers, with detailed information that makes it possible for you to do them yourself. Each is presented as a short feature, which provides you with context, descriptions of the routes, fun details, contacts, and technical information. You can download additional information including contacts, photos, videos, and even the routes in Google Earth for each tour.

Now is your turn you share your photos, videos and blogs!

Aysén is a destination in constant evolution. Each year there are new trails, paths, roads, guides, restaurants, hotels and events. Our commitment is to keep the tools of our website updated in the most complete way possible, so you'll always have a reliable source to help you plan your trip. But, because we live in a region that’s in constant change, we depend on our community of independent travelers to support the success of our never ending work. When you finish your trip, we want and need you to pass along your impressions, data, photos, videos, links and blogs; your input will help us to improve our information and recommendations, and complement the content with a true expert traveler's opinion about what you liked and what you want to improve.

Share your experiences and become part of our Undiscovered Patagonia!  

Read more

Photographs

Photographs that complement this story