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Villa O'Higgins - Tortel

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Where the Southern Highway Ends

Look for the border, passing time in the towns of the southernmost municipality of Aysén. Stroll through Caleta Tortel, which has more than seven kilometers of walkways, platforms, bridges and stairways made of cypress wood. This picturesque destination was declared a landmark because of its architecture and traditional way of life. Visit the mouth of the Baker River, Chile's largest in terms of water volume, and sail to the nearby Isla de Los Muertos, where 120 workers of the Compañía Explotadora del Baker (a logging company) died in 1906. There, ominous tombs and native wood crosses hide several theories and mysteries. For those who know Chile, Tortel is as emblematic and characteristic as the palafitos of Chiloé or the hills of Valparaíso.

Your journey ends in Villa O'Higgins, the final town on the southern highway. From here you can take an excursion to the Mosco River Valley, whose hills and wetlands are home to a large colony of huemul, the Chilean deer that is depicted alongside the condor on the country's coat of arms.

Cross Lake O'Higgins, an enormous inland sea with eight arms. It is the deepest lake in the Americas (836 meters) and site of the largest glacier in Aysén and one of the four largest in South America.

You will find yourself become completely relaxed as you explore this little town, which has no cell phone reception, bank machines or Internet cafés, and get to know its 500 inhabitants, who love to fish, hike and raise livestock. Enjoy the peace and quiet, far from the hustle and bustle of any city.

 

Featured Destinations in Northern Patagonia

aCarretera Austral
bIce Fields
cCoyhaique

 

Tours you can do

San Rafael Lagoon

Palena - Queulat
Pumalín - Futaleufú

Cerro Castillo National Reserve
Villa O'Higgins - Tortel

General Carrera Lake and Baker River
Exploradores Glacier



 

Getting There

en avion
By Air
Flights to Villa O'Higgins depart every Monday and Thursday from Coyhaique. The small planes that make these flights are popular with local residents, so make your reservation well in advance.
bus
By Car
Along the Southern Highway (Carretera Austral), it is 328 km from Coyhaique to Cochrane, another 126 km from there to Caleta Tortel, and a further 147 km to Villa O'Higgins. This does not include crossing the Mitchell Fjord by ferry.
en auto
By Bus
The bus trip is in two stages: it is 7 hours from Coyhaique to Cochrane along the Carretera Austral, then 7 hours more from Cochrane to Villa O'Higgins. Minibuses depart Cochrane daily for Caleta Tortel.

 

Tips

01

Viva Integration Always Say Hello Banks and Currency Exchange
Villa O'Higgins has been connected with Chaltén, the Argentinean trekking capital, since 2000. The road that joins these two border towns offers visitors the opportunity to combine walking trails, horseback riding and cycling. When strolling along the walkways of Caleta Tortel, take the opportunity to make new friends just by saying "hello." Villa O'Higgins has no bank, but some businesses accept U.S. dollars. Credit cards are not accepted.

02

Rough Seas Listen to the Radio
If you decide to venture out onto Lake O'Higgins, remember that it can be tricky to navigate and the water can be rough. Travelers are advised to avoid sailing on the lake without backup from a larger vessel. The radio is the main means of communication in this part of Chile. Listen to local radio stations for current news and local events.

 

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