From Cochrane we head 315 kilometers south, as we are in search of one of the last protected places in our country in the Aysén region. And a very special one, since until recently its flora and fauna were protected by the foundation of the late American conservationist Douglas Thompkins, whose legacy now passed into the hands of the State and his protection to Conaf. This is the Patagonia national park made up of the ancient reserves of Tamango and Jeinimeni, as well as the Chacabuco Valley.
We traveled there with AysenJourneys thinking about starting a route at Estancia Chacabuco, a place in the middle of the Patagonian steppe where Thompkins' remains rest and where we currently find a visitor center, a lodge, a restaurant and a lot of outdoor activity in the middle of a valley that has been shaped by the Chacabuco River.
Valle Chacabuco is located 30 km from Cochrane and was owned by the NGO Conservación Patagonia, in charge of creating and maintaining protected areas before it becomes a national park. There we find a beautiful yellowish landscape of the Patagonian steppe where huemuls, southern vizcachas, condors and rheas coexist, in an environment of wetlands, grasslands and lagoons.
Currently, it is possible to do some walks around Estancia Chacabuco, where we pass by some lagoons where species of ducks and other birds live. Perhaps the most exciting of the hikes is one that goes in search of the elusive vizcachas that hide among the rocks.
The Patagonia National Park initiative initially sought to reverse 80 years of poorly managed livestock, overgrazing, erosion and fires, decreasing domestic livestock. In this way, it was planned to unite 250,000 hectares of the Tamango, Jeinimeni and Valle Chacabuco national reserves. Patagonia National Park has a Lucas Bridges House Museum, where one can receive more information about the origins of this natural destination, as well as environmental education and we can educate ourselves about the endemic flora and fauna of the area. Inside the museum we find explanatory images and a guide to learn much more about the area.
From Estancia Chacabuco we headed south. We are in a place dominated by the huemul, the Andean deer that is in danger of extinction and that watches over the mountains of Patagonia from the heights.
We arrive at the Tamango National Reserve, which with a size of almost 7 thousand hectares is one of the hot spots to observe this elusive native fauna. There we tried to follow his trail through a path called Los Carpinteros, of medium difficulty and 3 kilometers long.
There are a total of nine routes enabled in the Tamango sector that border the Cochrane River. One of the alternatives is to take the Los Juncos route, where we can see some male huemuls. They tell us that they are part of a family of 66 specimens, which escape if we get closer than 10 meters away, according to the park ranger.
At the end of this trail, a viewpoint allows us to have a nice panoramic view of the Cochrane River, which Chile and Argentina share. Here you can sail, hike, fly fish and camp.
The Patagonia National Park also offers us the possibility of visiting Jeinimeni, a reserve with an entrance 65 kilometers south of Chile Chico along Route X-753. The place is a natural paradise that allows us to observe wildlife in Lake Los Flamencos and enjoy the star of the place, the Jeinimeni lagoon, which, unlike other lakes in the region, has a beach with sand mixed with gravel that It combines perfectly with the mountains and forests in the background.
Other activities here include a visit to the Cuevas de las Manos del Río Pedregoso, with rock formations with ancestral paintings, or to the Piedra Clavada, which with its 40 meters high has been shaped by the winds of Patagonia for millions of years. To get to know it, you have to start trekking at kilometer 25 that takes us from Chile Chico to the Jeinimeni Reserve.
Do you want to visit this beautiful national park? Check out and reserve our proposed trip Route of the Parks.