Puerto Tranquilo – The heart of Aysen, Chilean Patagonia

By Jonathan Howe January 31st, 2015 Posted in Destination, South America & Antarctica, Travel Blog, Travel Guides 47 Comments

Puerto Tranquilo is a sleepy, lakeside town in the heart of Aysen, Patagonia; home to the Northern and Southern Patagonian Ice-fields, as well as the largest lake in Chile, Lago General Carrera.

Perfect blue and turquoise rivers and lakes flow between snow-capped mountains and through deep valleys as the many glaciers gradually melt away, providing us with amazing ice caves to explore in the process – A beautiful, but a sad reminder that one day, they will disappear completely.Glacier in Patagonia

This quirky little town and its friendly people are often missed by visitors to Patagonia, who either travel to Torres del Paine for the famous O Trek, or head straight for Villa O’Higgins for Argentina crossing to climb Mount Fitzroy. (Related Article: Best Backpackers Hostels in Chile)

To help make sure you don’t make the same mistake, here are 5 reasons not to skip Puerto Tranquilo!

1. Capillas de Marmol

Two Monkeys Travel - Patagonia de Chile - Carretera Austral 20

These stunning marble caves, carved by the wind and the water over thousands of years are like stepping into another world. The variety of patterns and colours in the naturally smoothed marble seem to dance in the light reflected from the crystal blue-turquoise water. In the winter, when the lake drops, you can walk around inside the caves. One couple loved them so much, they had their wedding inside the caves themselves!

1 ½ hour boat trip – 8,000 Pesos p/p (Call Anselmo Soto – Carrera Tours)

2. Glacier Trekking

Two Monkeys Travel - Patagonia de Chile - Carretera Austral-1

 The town itself is less than an hour’s drive away from the Exploradores Glaciers in the Northern Patagonian Ice-fields. The true scale and beauty of a glacier is impossible to comprehend until you’ve walked, hiked and climbed for three hours to stand face to face with the giant itself – A wall of ice towering above your head, peppered with the melting holes and caves which mark its constant retreat and inevitable disappearance. The trek lasts a whole day including the round trip in a van and it is suitable for beginners, but they may find the rocky sections a bit tricky. Have a drink from a small river or pool while you’re up there, there’s no other water like it!

Contact Expediciones Explorasur(contacto@explorasur.cl) for a  1 day glacier trek – 40,000 Pesos p/p (approx) inc. lunch, transport and equipment.

3. Incredible SceneryTwo Monkeys Travel - Patagonia de Chile - Carretera Austral-1

These pictures speak for themselves; it’s simply impossible to take a bad photo here! There is stunning natural beauty in every direction and try to catch at least one cloudy sunset, the colours are magnificent!

4. Ridiculously blue waterKach and Jon

The water from the melting glaciers flows directly into the regions many lakes and rivers and it’s so clean, pure and unpolluted that it keeps its perfect blue colour that you just can’t stop staring at it. It’s hard to believe water can be that colour at all and it’s so clean you can drink it!

5. It’s en-route to everywhere

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A journey along the length of Patagonia’s Carretera Austral is a pilgrimage made by many travelers who are looking for something more than a fly-in-fly-out trek and some photo opportunities. Buses are not very frequent on this old dirt road, so instead, you’ll find cyclists, hikers, motorcyclists and hitchhikers making their way along the 1,240km route, sleeping in tents and family guesthouses on the way. Whether you’re heading north or south, the Carretera Austral leads you to Puerto Tranquilo.

Useful Info

How to get there: You can start your journey from Puerto Montt in the very south of mainland Chile, or you can take a Navimag ferry from Puerto Montt to Chacabuco, in the heart of the Aysen region, from where you can travel to Coyhaique, a small beautiful city, from where you can join the Carretera Austral. Simply head south whichever way you can. If you’re coming from the South having crossed from Argentina, you have no choice – Take the Carretera Austral North!

Where to stay: There are quite a few options, from one mid-range hotel, to private cabañas, but we found that the best accommodation is in one the alojiementos familials, small family-run hostels that are relatively cheap, have real log fires and great home-cooked food! We chose Residential La Paz and were really happy there, they even have a little grocery store with fruit, vegetables and loads of snacks.

Price – Approx. 10,000 p/p per night.

Where to Eat: If you don’t want home-cooked food in your family hostel, then head to Donde Kike. It’s really easy to find, right next to the lakeside road and they serve great, tasty, simple dishes that’ll fill you up and leave you feeling satisfied!

Price per dish – Approx. 5,000 Pesos

Where Next: Head south to Cochrane, then on to Tortel and Villa O’Higgins. If you’re going north, your next stop is Coyhaique, the small city surrounded by stunning farmland in every direction!

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47 thoughts on “Puerto Tranquilo – The heart of Aysen, Chilean Patagonia

    1. Puerto Tranquilo is a pefect place of relaxation and adventzre, Rea. Better go here to see its amazing landscapes.

  1. The glaciers and the cave look magnificent. You also have great tips here. wish to see Puerto Tranquilo too.

    1. Thank you, Richard. Soon, you can visit Puerto Tranquilo as well. Let us know when it would be and if you need more tips.

  2. How amazing is Puerto Tranquilo even the name screams tranquility and beauty. Amazing pictures, thanks for sharing

    1. Certainly; Anosa! No doubt Puerto Tranquilo is the heart of Aysen Patagonia. Hope you can visit this stunning place soon. 🙂

  3. I am feeling slightly depressed reading this. There is so much out there to explore yet somehow feels out of reach. I need to travel more!! Thanks for the inspiration

    1. Don’t feel depressive, Working Mum; be inspireed instead. Puerto Tranquilo is one of the best inspiring places that can make your wanderlust flows.

  4. My daydream adventurer spirit longs to visit places like this. Alas, I can only visit through photos! Beautiful places!

    1. Haha. That’s the power of amazing landscapes like what Puerto Tranquilo can give – virtual tour! 🙂

  5. It just makes me more excited to get on my holiday. We’re going to try for a last min booking and get a bargain. Those pictures are stunning!!

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Written by Jonathan Howe

Jon is the Old White Monkey. Born in the south of England, Jon spent much of his early childhood in Kenya and Malawi, before moving to the Lake District in North West England aged 13 where he acquired a northern accent and a love for lakes, mountains, waterfalls, black pudding and gravy! After 14 years of studying and working in various (very various!) jobs, he too felt the need to get out and see the rest of the world. He loves tropical beaches, surfing, hiking, the outdoors, yoga, adventure sports and motorbikes!

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