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The Wonders Of The Chilean Patagonia

Sep 12, 2008
From Puerto Montt, Chile spreads in hundreds of islands that take the name of Patagonian Channels, the most important among them is the Great Island of Chiloe (Isla Grande de Chiloe). The Patagonia, on the other hand, is an area shared between Chile and Argentina and is located southern Puerto Montt. Due to the area is so vast, with different landscapes and weathers, in Chile it is separated in two sub areas: Northen Patagonia and Southern Patagonia.

The North Patagonia begins southern of Puerto Montt. Due to the isolation degree in which this zone was, in the 70's, begun the construction of the Austral Route or Austral Highway (Carretera Austral). This road has been transformed in the spine of the North Patagonia and where have settled and created the main cities of this zone. Product of the geographic form that the North Patagonia has, in many places, the connection with the rest of the country is made thanks to ferries that connects this zone with the mainland. Without any doubt, the North Patagonia is synonymous of nature and solitude. The distances between cities often are not too long, but their inhabitants and tourists depend on weather conditions to proceed their journeys.

Natural scenes as Hornopiren National Park with volcano included, deserves to be visited a pair of days at least. This is the site for many sportsmen and adventurers that know the zone better than the same villagers, who seek for the river, the lake and the place to practice their sport. Nowadays Futaleufu River (Rio Futaleufu) is visited by tens of rafting and kayak lovers, with a degree 6 in a scale whose higher number is "6". Another important location within the Northen Patagonia (Patagonia Norte) is Pumalin Private Park. More than 10 years ago the conservationist Douglas Tompkins bought 20,000 hectares in the zone of the Northen Patagonia, with the purpose of conserving its natural resources intact. Today, Pumalin Park has over 300,000 hectares, (declared Sanctuary of the Nature in 2005) a wide variety of native forest as well as fauna of the zone. In the Park, you may visit some fjords like Cahuelmo, Comau or Leptepu Fjord and Quintupeu Fjord. All these fjords can be visited on kayak or boat. In Cahuelmo Fjord you can also enjoy nature thermal baths. The Park has picnic zones and camping and an Information center located in Caleta Gonzalo (Greek Gonzalo). Nearby the Park is strategically located Chaiten, in the middle of the Austral Highway (Carretera Austral or Austral Road). From Chaiten, it is possible to continue travelling through the zone, knowing places like Yelcho Lake. Also from Chaiten, you can visit Lake and River Futaleufu. Heading south you will find Queulat National Park. The view is amazing since the Austral Road crosses the Park, turning this zone as the best site to take the pictures. In the same National Park of Queulat you find the Hanging Ventisquero (Ventisquero Colgante), and be able to appreciated from the Austral Highway (Carretera Austral) also it is closely to Puyuhuapi, another town of the North Patagonia (Northen Patagonia or Patagonia Norte). From Puyuhuapi the route follows towards Puerto Aisen and Coyhaique (Coihaique) located closely to the Simpson River (Rio Simpson), and Cerro Castillo National Reserve (Castillo Hill), where you can observate the archaeological paintings of the natives that used to live in that area

One of the places in the North Patagonia (Northen Patagonia or Patagonia Norte) known by all fly-fishing lovers is the General Carrera Lake. Also, Bertrand Lake is an appendix of General Carrera Lake, known as Buenos Aires Lakes in the Argentina side. Nearby the General Carrera Lake, is General Carrera Lake National Reserve, and Jeinemeni Lake National Reserve, where from time to time (if you are lucky) you can see huemules (a Chilean deer).

"North Ice Fields" defines the end of The North Patagonia (Northen Patagonia or Patagonia Norte), its main attractive is San Rafael Lagoon National Park (or Laguna San Rafael or Ventisquero San Rafael or San Rafael Glacier), where the glacier can be appreciated. The most common way to visit and contemplate the glacier is to do it by sea, so you can choose among a wide variety of cruises and ferries that make this tour. The Glacier or Ventisquero San Rafael is not the only Glacier that finishes in the sea. Nevertheless it is possible that its fame is not only by the beauty or the landscape, but that the eternal ice ends in a Lagoon that it is got the same name. You may access the Glacier, through a narrow river, called Tempano River. In summer time, you will have the chance of looking many icebergs floating on the Tempano River. Unfortunately, due to the global heating, the Glacier is retiring dramatically, which is evident at simple sight without being an expert in the matter.

Finally the last place to know in the Patagonia is Cochrane and Caleta Tortel (or Tortel Greek), located in the mouth of the Baker River (Rio Baker). Declared Typical Zone in 2001, in Caleta Tortel (or Tortel Greek) there are no streets, but footbridges built with cypress of the güaitecas.

Patagonia South or Austral Patagonia

The Austral Patagonia mainly includes the area called as South Ice Fields, where Bernardo O'Higgins National Park and the famous Torres del Paine (Towers of the Paine) National Park stands out. Due to the geography of the zone, there are no highways that cross from the North Patagonia until the South Patagonia. The land trips are made generally through Argentina, to accede at Puerto Natales, Punta Arenas, and other cities in Chile. Nevertheless the access can be made by air and in less percentage, through the sea. (There is just one ferry that arrives at Puerto Natales.) As we said previously, this zone is known around the world specially because to the Torres del Paine National Park (Towers of the Paine), located almost at 248,55 miles from Punta Arenas, the Park is recognized by the characteristic mass of granite rock, where excel the famous Cuernos del Paine (Horns of the Paine), Macizos del Paine (the Mass of Paine) and Torres del Paine (the Towers of the Paine). Due to its geomorphologic characteristics, the park has several rivers and lakes, as well as glaciers, such as Lake Grey, Pehoe Lake, Sarmiento Lake, El Toro Lake, Nordenskjold Lake and Paine Lake. The Park counts with good facilities for those who wish to lodge in the same park, and additionally there are several Hotels in the area.

Puerto Natales, on the other hand, is located in Ultima Esperanza Fjord and from there, Balmaceda and Serrano Glaciers (Glaciares Balmaceda & Serrano) can be access through Bernardo O'higgins Park. At south the city of Punta Arenas is found, a port of great activity; Punta Arenas is a calm city, where the wind whips at great speed especially in September, and from where it is possible to make trips towards Ushuaia, in Argentina and also to Antarctica (Antartida).

Chilean Antarctic territory (Territorio Chileno Antartico)

Antartida or Antarctica is almost completely covered by ice, having on 90% of all the ice of the Earth and therefore, it is the greater fresh water reserve on Earth. Until some years ago, it was synonymous of scientific bases and nothing else. Today many groups get to cross at Antartida or Antarctica.

The Chilean Antarctic Territory its shaped as a triangle located between the Meridians 53º and 90º of west longitude. Along with Chile, Argentina and the United Kingdom have territorial pretensions that are superposed mainly in the Antarctica Peninsula (Peninsula Antartica). But all the pretensions have been "frozen" since the last treaties adhere to consider Antartida or Antarctica as Territory of the Humanity, and where its territories and seas only can be used for pacific aims, excluding all experiments with conventional or nuclear arms as well as the prohibition to deposit radioactive remainders. Said that, it is without any doubt, a beautiful and mysterious zone, where every year it increases the number of travelers who cross part of this Continent in cruises specially designed to maintain Antarctica, free of any type of pollution.
About the Author
Ximena Diaz is Letsgochile.com's Manager and an expert consultant about how to choose a hotel in Chile and how to plan your holidays in Chile
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