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Adventure travel in Patagonia
Latest entry at the top, scroll down for the beginning of the trip.
Dec 27, 2008
Around every bend in the road, gasps of amazement are uttered - "holy ... did you see THAT?", "look at that water", "look at that mountain!" It seems that every type of geographic wonder has been crammed into this one small area.
The best time of year to travel to Aysen (also Aisen) is Nov-April, (summer in the southern hemisphere). The "normal" weather is cool, cloudy & windy with frequent rain. The 4 weeks of mostly sunny weather we encountered is apparently rare, especially in the spring. (That said, who has "normal" weather these days?)
More specifics on Aysen, Patagonia...
The capital of the Aysen region of Patagonia is COYHAIQUE, a small city that really grew on me once I got to know it. Our favorite hang out was the Cafe Confluencia - WiFi, nice healthy salads and sandwiches and "cafecitos", or "cafe cortado" as they are also called!
GET YOUR KICKS...
Coyahaique is the center of an extensive adventure sports scene in Aysen. If you have not booked your adventures ahead of time, there are plenty of tour operators in the town center to help you.
The Aysen region is a mecca for fly fishing and there are wonderful lodges to serve this traveler. (I highly recommend taking up fishing, even if it's just to enjoy the lodges! See my accommodations dispatch for more)
Evening at Cinco Rios Lodge - fire in the lovely stone fireplace, guests sitting around the cocktail table with laptops, downloading the day's pictures, munching on yummy homemade empenadas, sipping delicious Chilean vino, and sharing "fish stories"! (yes, there were women there also, just not in this picture!)
Aysen is also great for river rafting, kayaking, biking, and multi-day treks on foot or horseback thru rainforest, to glaciers, or across the pampa (plains).
If these activities do not interest you, rest assured, traveling the Carretera Austral (southern hiway) and soaking up the natural beauty around you will be adventure enough for most people!
As of now, this region is a way off-the-beaten-path outpost, but they tell me the road will be finished soon, making the area more easily accessible from La Junta, and, a convenient entry point for travelers coming from Puerto Montt on the ferry to Aysen.
The reason to make the trek here is to see the Chilean dolphins, known locally as "Toninas", the sea lion colony, and to chill out at the quaint, end-of-the-earth retreat called Fundo Los Leones, (see accommodations dispatch)
Laguna San Rafael Glacier trip
This is the only well known tourist destination in Aysen. Seeing this natural wonder close up is worth the time and expense. It involves a full day excursion, by comfortable, high-speed catamaran (including 3 meals and open bar) and weather permitting, a zodiac trip up to the glacier. (www.CatamaranesDelSur.cl)
It is too bad that many tours do only this and miss the rest of Aysen - what a shame for them - but it leaves the region unspoiled for us more adventurous travelers to enjoy!
Dec 19, 2008
Each night, we arrived at a very different, but always wonderful accommodation. At each one, we wanted to stay another night, or a month! There were hotels, guesthouses, pensions, hostals, cabanas, bungalows, cottages, spa resorts, farms and fishing lodges. All are family run, most by Chileans, many that fled Santiago for the clean air and country life, others by expats that fell hopelessly in love with this stunning new frontier and decided to create a life that enables them to share their passion for the region with lucky travelers.
As always, the people make any trip, and everyone mentioned here made this Aysen adventure unforgettable! I guarantee they will do the same for you!
Dec 12, 2008
WOW! There just are no superlatives that can do this place justice. I am in the Aysen (also spelled Aisen) Region of Patagonia, Chile. I had no idea what to expect, except cool temps with lots of wind and rain, something Patagonia is famous for. Well, our "weather angels" were really on top of things this trip - we have had sun, sun and more sun - and we have shot so much unbelieveable footage we are dreading having to edit it.
We traveled the Carretera Austral, the "main hiway" running North-South thru Patagonia. Most of the hiway is dirt and rocks, not much paved road, making the driving an adventure in itself. (All of that gorgeous sunshine has a downside - dust). That over-used term "off-the-beaten path" truly applies here. No matter how dusty and bumpy the drive, the views and scenery were always well worth slight discomfort. And really, in a strange way, I got to like bumping along in a cloud of dust!
For those of you scratching your head and getting out the Atlas, Patagonia is the southern tip of South America, and encompasses parts of Chile and Argentina. Aysen is the middle region of Chilean Patagonia, and it is the least traveled. Your most adventurous friends, even those that have been to Patagonia, probably do not know of this hidden gem.
Traveling through Aysen (Aisen) you pass desert-like steppe; grasslands, or Pampa; rolling hills covered in Lupins (or "Chochos"); bright turquoise or deep blue lakes and rivers; snow covered peaks and Glaciers - the diversity of landscape is incredible. I think I took 1000 pictures, and that was only in between filming!
Dec 5, 2008
Weather is fantastic, incredible scenery, very nice people, cozy lodges and hostels, TONS to do - kayaking, hiking, biking, horseback rides, rafting, and, fly fishing galore!
I'll update more later... gotta hit the road again... off to the land of no phones, no TV, no internet...
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