After a 24 hour bus ride from Puerto Montt to Coyhaique, two border crossings and another five hour bus ride on which our bus blew a tire, we finally arrived in Puyuhuapi, Chile. A town just north of Parque Nacional Queulat and just 50 km south of La Junta, Chile, Puyuhuapi was where we had been one week earlier before our excursion to Chiloe.
Our bus arrived to the small town just before dark, so we found a campsite to set up our tent before picking up dinner from the “supermarket”. Similar to other supermarkets in the small towns in southern Chile this place was stocked with 5 choices for fruits and veggies, two cereal options, empanadas, and only a few other things. We did find what we needed and food for the next day as we planned to go hiking in the national park.
In the morning, the tourist office was closed so we enquired about transport to the park from a guy renting bikes and selling bus tickets back to Coyhaique. He informed us there was no public transport so we could pay approximately 50 usd for private transport and try to get a group together which was unlikely because one had just left or we could hitchhike. So we did the latter and were walking up to park headquarters just over an hour later.
The park ranger was awesome! He explained all of the trails answered everyone’s questions and helped people decide which trails to take. Since we had all day and none of the trails were longer than 7km in our section of the park, we decided to just do them all. Each new trail gave us a different view to the park’s famed hanging glacier, Ventisquero Colgante. My jaw dropped the first time I saw the glacier and again when we watched a chunk of it crack off and crash onto the rocks below causing a thunderous sound to roar through the valley. The forest covering the river valley floor was very much like the jungle on Raul Marin and we even saw more giant beetles flying around. Besides the glacier itself, the waterfalls cascading into the green lake and the fast-flowing turquoise river zigzagging through the park also made for beautiful scenery. Despite being on the Carretera Austral, there did not seem to be many other gringos in this neck of Chilean Patagonia. Nonetheless, the small town experience of Puyuhuapi and the scenery made Parque Nacional Queulat worth the visit.
- Try to book buses to and from Puyuhuapi as far in advance as possible during summer months to avoid having to wait days for the next bus.
- If you’d like to camp in the park, the bus to/from Coyhaique can drop you off at the road 2 kms from the park entrance. Just let the driver know you’d like to get off there when you board.
- Bring the majority of your food from Coyhaique as choices are limited and more expensive in Puyuhuapi and the park has no dining options.