ENTRE FIORDOS, ESTUARIOS Y MONTAÑAS: RUTA PARQUE NACIONAL PUMALÍN
This week we invite you to travel 476 km to an unforgettable destination, the Pumalín National Park. A route shaped by its geographical diversity, where trips by sea and by land allow you to discover multiple landscapes through beautiful fjords, estuaries, and majestic mountains.
In 2016, together with a group of friends, we planned a trip to the south of Chile with the objective of riding our bicycles through the Pumalín National Park. The idea for this trip came from a desire to experience and contemplate a unique landscape, which is the result of a strong relationship between culture, biodiversity, and infrastructure. Located in the Province of Palena, in the X (10th) Region de Los Lagos, the Pumalín Park was declared a National park after the Tompkins Conservation made a sizeable land donation to the government of Chile in January this year. The result of this donation is a 402,392- hectare park for the conservation and protection of the ecological and cultural heritage. (1)
(1) Proyecto y Parque Pumalín <www.parquepumalin.cl>
In 7 days we traveled a total of 476 kilometers. Our route was determined by the geographical conditions of the Park, for which it was necessary to combine land routes – the Austral road (route 7) and maritime routes – Golfo de Ancud and Corcovado – to cross fjords and estuaries. The route began when we landed at El Tepual; we set up our bicycles, bought supplies and exited Puerto Montt through the CH7 road (the beginning of the Austral highway) with an incredible view of the sunset along the Reloncaví Coastline (image 1). With the city behind us, we started our journey through rural areas towards Caleta La Arena (45 km.). At this point we took the ferry that allowed us to cross towards Caleta Puelche; this part of the trip was a stretch of no more than 30 minutes (5 km).
Once we arrived, and the night was falling upon us, we found an empty lot and set up camp. We had to get up at dawn to pedal to Hornopirén (53 km) (North Access gate to Pumalín Park) (image 2). In this part, the landscape’s irregular slope adds a level of difficulty to the route, in which ascents and descents determine the rhythm of pedaling. As soon as we reached Hornopirén, we looked for a place to have lunch. Later that day we rested and enjoyed the night landscape; there was a completely starry sky. The next day, and very early in the morning, we boarded the ferry to Leptepu, which passed by the Comau fjord. This fjord is flanked by steep mountains and offers incredible views. We landed at Leptepu and started a 10-kilometer journey against the clock to make it on time to our next ferry. This was one of the most intense and rainy stretches throughout the Largo Fjord. After a rather hostile pedaling session under the rain, we reached the ferry and crossed the Reñihue Fjord (image 3), where a coastal landscape of native flora predominates over stone walls that contrast with the forested interior coast, giving us one of the best images of the trip (image 4).
In Caleta Gonzalo we camped and gathered around a firepit, with a simple piece of bread and a nice glass of red wine. Nature here overflows and delighted us with an incredible dawn with the first sun rays sneaking over the mountains and becoming visible by touching the steam of the morning frost. In this camp area, we decided to go on some walks to explore and then continued our journey (image 5).
The next stretch was 29 kilometers towards a camping area named “the volcano,” located almost in the heart of Pumalín Park. This is a sector that stands out for its warm rainforest, which as we moved along our route increased in density and little by little, the route became narrower due to masses of native trees along the road (image 6).
The next day we packed and started an overwhelming stretch towards Chaitén. The dirt road let us cross the Blanco, Rayas and Camahueto Rivers and also allowed us to observe the scars caused to the landscape by the Chaitén volcano eruption in 2008. Forests with petrified trunks accompanied us most of the way. It was a sublime aesthetic experience that mixed both a sense of respect and admiration. We admired the magnitude of nature’s strength at its best. (image 7). Finally, when we arrived to Chaitén we looked for accommodation to rest and prepare for a long return trip by ferry to Puerto Montt (9 hours approximately), where we would cross the Gulf of Corcovado and Ancud.
I have been living in Shanghai for 4 years and although China has a diverse and interesting landscape, the trip to Pumalín was the answer to my own personal need to reconnect with the South of my country, invaded by a sense of nostalgia and belonging. This reunion was through a landscape that is shaped by culture, biodiversity, and infrastructure, fostering an experience of peace and meditation, an experience that is difficult to find in Shanghai, one of the most populated cities in the world. Under these conditions, the Pumalín National Park is transformed into a platform of observation of multiple realities, territories, and customs, which not only allows us to preserve and protect a landscape but also to make its visitors aware of Chile’s natural heritage.
Sebastián Correa. Chilean architect, photographer, illustrator and cyclist based in Shanghai, China, since 2014.
ROUTE SUMMARY: Total distance covered (476 km)
_Puerto Montt – Caleta La Arena / bicycle (45 km)
_Caleta La Arena – Caleta Puelche / Ferry (5 km)
_Caleta Puelche – Hornopirén / bicycle (53 km)
_Hornopirén – Leptepu / Ferry (60 km)
_Leptepu – Fiordo Largo / bicycle (10km)
_Fiordo Largo – Caleta Gonzalo / ferry (7 km)
_Caleta Gonzalo – Camping El Volcan / bicycle (29 km)
_Camping El Volcan – Chaitén / bicycle (29 km)
_Chaitén – Puerto Montt / ferry (238 km)
_A detailed ferry schedule guide, especially from Chaitén to Puerto Montt and from Hornopirén to Caleta Gonzalo.
(1) Proyecto y Parque Pumalín <www.parquepumalin.cl>
(3) Reñihue Fjord © Sebastián Correa R. for LOFscapes
(4) Reñihue Fjord © Sebastián Correa R. for LOFscapes
(5) Wooded coastal interior, Fjord Reñihue © Sebastián Correa R. for LOFscapes
(6) Trekking in Caleta Gonzalo © Sebastián Correa R. for LOFscapes
(7) Native Trees in Parque Pumalín © Sebastián Correa R. for LOFscapes
(8) Forest of Tree trunks, road to Chaitén © Sebastián Correa R. for LOFscapes
(9) Cartography Ruta Parque Nacional Pumalín, X Región – Chile© Francisca Salas for LOFscapes
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