Lush rainforest, waterfalls, snow capped mountains, smoking volcanoes, glaciers and jaw dropping beauty. Hike, paddle or drive your way through the Pumalin Park to experience a great diversity of landscapes in a little visited area of Chile.
North and South
Parque Pumalin is split into two sectors – north (norte) and south (sur):
- Pumalin Norte can only be explored by water, either as a 4-10 day kayak trip (sea kayak section below), on a small cruise (see below) or by private boat as a day trip from Hornopiren. The Hornopiren to Caleta Gonzalo ferry passes through Pumalin Norte so, although from afar, you will get to see this section of the park if you are self-driving the Carretera Austral.
- Pumalin Sur is then split into two sections with the little ghost town of Chaiten sitting in the middle. As you head south, the first part of Pumalin Sur that you encounter is between Caleta Gonzalo and Chatien – here you find the hikes to waterfalls and the Michimahuda and Chaiten Volcanoes. The second part of Pumalin Sur that you find is just south of Chaiten called El Amarillo – here you have a stunning hike to a hanging glacier (Ventisquero El Amarillo) and other hikes to viewpoints.
Parque Pumalin is where the Carretera Austral feels like it really starts. As the road becomes narrow, wild and pot holed and, as you’re only option is to arrive by ferry, you feel you have embarked on a special kind of journey.
Pumalin is the natural first stop (or last stop) on any self-drive journey when driving between Puerto Montt and Coyhaique (or beyond). As the CA drives through the middle of the park it is very easily accessible. If you are keen hikers, it is worth staying for a few nights to enjoy the network of day hiking trails with the clear highlight being the three hour trail to see the smouldering Volcan Chaiten.
A 4×4 is definitely needed and it is certainly worth learning a little spanish as very little English is spoken in this area.