Puyehue Traverse | Patagonia, Chile, 1997

a_3Distance:  46.6 miles (75 km) (including side trips)

Avg.Time:  3 days

Difficulty: Moderate

Start / Finish:

  • Guarderia Anitcura – Rinanahue
  • Both trailheads are serviced by buses from Osorno.
  • The final 25-30km stretch of the hike is on a lightly trafficked dirt road. Not so appealing. On the bright side, if someone does happen to pass by, they are more than likely to give you a ride all the way to Rinanahue.

Season:

  • November to May.

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Maps / Info:

  • I used the map and trekking notes contained in Lonely Planet’s Trekking in the Patagonian Andes (1992). The most recent edition of this excellent guidebook came out in November 2009.
  • In addition to the Lonely Planet, you can pick up a 1:40,000 Trekking map available at the El Caulle entrance to the park  (30 minutes walk from Anticura). Whilst there, you will also need to pay an obligatory entrance fee.
  • For general information on Puyehue National Park check out the Chile Travel website.
  • Purchase all supplies in Osorno.

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Route / Conditions:

  • The trail is relatively well marked and easy to follow from start to finish.
  • The thing I remember most about the Puyehue Traverse was the diversity. Lenga forests, volcanic moonscapes, thermal pools, waterfalls and bamboo forests. By no means a boring hike.
  • The side trips to the crater of Volcan Puyehue and the Thermal springs are the highlights of the trek. Not to be missed.

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Sleeping:

  • Bring your own shelter. There is one basic, unattended refugio (mountain hut) situated at the base of Volcan Puyehue. This was in pretty poor condition when I hiked in 1997. Not sure if it has been renovated in subsequent years.

Overview:

  • Fantastic hike. The only negative is the long dirt road walk to Rinanhue. Good luck getting a hitch.

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