Sunday, December 19: We got on our bus early in the morning and enjoyed the nice 2 hours drive through wonderful landscape of Aisén Region to our starting point. Obviously, not much trekkers do this hike, so we had to help our bus driver to find "Las Horquetas Grandes", the little street workers camp. Finally we found it and off the bus we were.Ok...more
Oh what a wonderful feeling to put the backpack down and unpack the neccesary items. Me as always the "housewife" - looool - pitching the tent, rolling out the mats and let the sleeping bags breathe. Guenter is "micropurizing" the water, and while we wait until it's done, we snooze in the grass. So quiet, nothing more than the little wind and the...more
Monday, december 20: The next morning greets us with warm sun, and after a quick breakfast, we are done with our belongings and head further. Trail is straight ahead, along the bank of Estero la Lima, for another hour or so. Here and there we have to cross little side creeks, and wondering how much more will come. We have read about extensive river...more
We headed along the southern bank of the scree valley, some other hour to find a perfect spot to pitch the tent just at the bottom of the long slope up to the pass. Backpacks off and a little hike to Laguna Peñon, which is just some 20 minutes away. Nice, as we could do a little exercise how to walk on the scree - not easy, as the stones do not lie...more
The day ends like the one before - very relaxed (what did we do today except a bit of a hike ?) and good warm tea filled our happy stomachs - with fantastic views to the mountains and their little waterfalls here and there and the gods of the Andes - the condors - circling their tracks in the sky (pic). Amazing, how many condors we saw during the...more
Tuesday, december 21: Next morning was quite cool outside and in rapid speed we were packed again. Obviously, having the food in my backpack, 2 meals less in weight put a much happier smile on my face :-)The path we continue on now is hardly visible - it is where the soil is a bit more packed. Dead wood doesn't seem that bad at this time - easy to...more
My backpack was feeling heavy by now, my knees hurt despite the poles and this was about the moment, when my brain must have decided to leave the scenery and get off for a little while. Somehow, feet obviously function without being conducted by the brain. My locomotor system (sorry, this is what the dictionary says) kept setting one foot in front...more
As soon as we were out of the reach of the cold wind, we could also admire more of the tines and towers of Cerro Castillo's mountain range, which gave it the name. In the first pic still the little Laguna Cerro castillo right hand, but also the creek that spills out of it, showing us already our path up there. To the left, the gentls slopes of...more
On our right hand (north) we admire again the tines and spines of the mountain range, which look quite odd sometimes. A glaciar tongue is spilling over the walls, and gives room to millions of little meltwater cascades. Together with the overcast sky and some fog rising here and there - the atmosphere is almost out of this world.more
But – enough of admiration, we need to make our way down the gully to find our next hotel :-)Paso Peñon’s melted snow and the cascades form a little creek which heads downward and leads us the way. It is extremely steep, and we are happy that we got some experience by now how to best walk over the scree. Zigzag hiking is the best to work through...more
After we have reached the forest, we still need to find our path there, as obviously not very much trekkers do this gorgeous hikes, and nature quickly demands back it’s space. We headed along the bank of this little creek which would later on combine with another creek to form Estero del Bosque. And then we needed to do it – cross the creek, which...more
Wednesday, december 22:The morning greeted us again with perfect weather, stunning blue sky, even too perfect to get going again. So we enjoyed a bit longer breakfast, with pancakes and currant marmelade. Pancakes is very easy to prepare, even on hiking trails. Flour, water and a bit salt - that's all. Having a little pan comes handy, but it's also...more
We continue along the right (north) river bank downhill, untill our little river meets up with the one coming from Laguna Cerro Castillo to form Estero del Bosque and flow down to Villa Cerro Castillo. Now we need to head upstream to reach our next overnight stop at the laguna. Hiking now becomes quite difficult, as the forest here is more of a...more
After these several crossings we are back again on the right river bank, heading further upstream to finally to our amazement find a sign – the second sign we see during the trip so far…. A little wooden plate with a red arrow leads us away from the river, along a dried creek, filled with scree. Then, after 10 minutes, another red arrow tells us to...more
Sun was setting, and as there were no trees to shelter us, the air soon became quite cold. The sun nicely shone on the mountains and painted them deep red. We put all our clothes on and started the dinner. Not much for the evening, only tick hot star shaped noodle soup and the obligatory hot tea. We were sitting there, enjoying the hot things...more
Thursday, december 23:To get up next morning and get going after that night was a bit tough – it was as if you land hard on the earth after having been somewhere in space. But – it didn’t help and we needed to hurry up a bit, as some weather was approaching from the east. We know that Patagonian weather is relentless – but first some visit to the...more
So we started to continue our hike at 10 a.m. Along the Laguna, to hike uphill on it's southern moraine. From there we already see our next goal, the nameless paso which separates Laguna Cerro Castillo from the next valley of Estero Parada. Still some snow specks there, but we are used to that already. We laughed about the path markings now, every...more
The tea warms up, the massif of Cerro Castillo is an amazing view with it's sharp tines - doesn't it look like a fairy tale castle ? inhabited by tousands of elfes and dwarfs ?But enough of dreaming - we better enjoy the valley view which is awesome from up here. The one picture is the valleys' left (east) side, and we even find the tiny village of...more
Later on I have called it murderous descend, but during the next some hours or so I felt pretty much a happiness every second that I was still alive and on this in one piece. Our nice book has described the following as to "drop directly into a steep, scree-filled gully" which sounds nice, if you only read it. It would have been nice in sunny...more
Continuing with the downhill hike we were quite happy that they have marked the path with cairns and red dots again. However, at a point in time, on the right (north) river bank they either forgot to continue with the markings or we have been so stupid to loose sight of them - we kind of got lost. Not really lost, as we still were on the "path"....more
The soup tastes gorgeous that evening and the weather congratulates us with a very pleasant sunset - yellow-red clouds and the mountains beaming in the setting sun.Next morning we decide to simply relax and do the housework - uuhm tentwork. Pants needed to be washed, backpacks and jackets to be dried in the happy shining sun and our bones were all...more
.To Las Horquetas Grandes:
By the time, we have been there, there were daily buses going from Coyhaique to Puerto Ibanez (at Lago General Carrera) and Cochrane. However, as we left on Sunday, there was only one bus to Puerto Ibanez, to drop us off at the starting point.
Las Horquetas Grandes (the starting point) is approx. 65 km south of Coyhaique.
From Villa Cerro Castillo:
During the week, there is one bus per day going south from Villa Cerro Castillo to Cochrane, and one bus per day going north to Coyhaique.
However, as we were there during Christmas (left december 26), there was no bus going, at least nobody knew.
We hitchhiked back to Coyhaique, which was not a problem, as a nice pick-up driver picked us up. However, we were standing on the road for roughly 2 hours, but again ? it was december 26.
If you plan to do this trek, I even would warn you not even think of buying any other book than Lonely Planet's Trekking in the Patagonian Andes. All my Patagonia hikes I did with this book (have all 3 editions by now :-). The descriptions are reliable, the maps accurate, the trek hours as well (I knew at any point how much to add to his hours to...more
We were extremely confused when trying to check with CONAF (Chile's National Park Organization). Usually, when you hike a not so popular trail, you let them know what you are doing. Even for the very well trotten Circuito in Torres del Paine they make a big thing registering your passports and all that.We have tried to get in contact with CONAF in...more
When we did this hike, the rivers were not carrying much water. We saw it with Rio Turbio who was described as rapid big river - we found a little creek running in an enormous riverbed. So be aware that depending on the time of year or progress of spring and thus melted water, all rivers might carry much more water than on my pictures.more
Luggage and bags:
Full backcountry gear, as backpack, big enough for 7 days (approx. 25 kg in total weight), firm plastic bags for carrying trash back to civilization.
Clothing/Shoes/Weather Gear: Wind and weatherproof clothes, layer principle. Be aware that the winds are strong and result in a nice windchill factor. Headband should be a must, too. Ankle protecting boots with a very good profile. Gaiters might be neccesary (we hand them with us but did not use them). Waterproof sandals are a must, they are handy for river or creek crossing. But of the Teva style or similar, flip-flops are useless.
Toiletries and Medical Supplies: Use biodetergent as soap, if possible. It helps not to spoil the water that much. Full backcountry hike first-aid kit (I must admit we had 2 tablets of morphine with uswhich we did not need, thanks god).
Photo Equipment: Lots of film rolls or cards and batteries for the digi one.
Camping/Beach/Outdoor Gear: Full camping gear, wind- and rainproof tent, down sleeping bag is of better use as it might get quite cold in the nights, even in summer. Iso mat. Gas or multifuel stove (rather than open fire) and whole kitchen equipment.
Miscellaneous: Trekking poles are a must, too, as they are very helpful for the river crossings and a good relief for the joints and bones.
Huemules (hippocamelus bisulcus) is a distinct relative of our nothern hemisphere deer. They have once been spread around southern Patagonia in huge crowds, but increased civilization and forest fires have cut their population very much back. Huemules are very shy and it is not usual to spot them. On our way back to Coyhaique we have been extremely...more
The whole trail is around 65 km, one way (so no roundtrip trail). Reserva Nacional Cerro Castillo in total is located on an area of approx. 135000 hectars. Some officials say that nearly 1500 hikers per year do this trail, which might be (again, we were there during Christmas).
The map, I show here, is from the Lonely Planet book, and should only serve as a rough guideline of the path. Getting yourself a good map is mandatory.