Region de Aysen (the Aysen Region) is an area of staggering natural beauty in the Patagonia region in the South of Chile. Virtually untouched by humanity and with very little by way of civilization, the Aysen Region is nothing but lakes, mountains and fjords as far as the eye can see. If you want scenery that will take your breath away, few places on earth can compete with the Region de Aysen. Here are 10 reasons why a trip to this region is unmissable.
This little city is usually just used as a springboard for seeing the Aysen Region but it is not without its own charms. Visitors can wander around the Plaza de Armas, eat in one of the local restaurants, or even do a kayaking tour of the Aysen River that cuts the city in half. Blow off some steam here before kicking off the adventure.
The Steppe is a huge expanse of land that extends from the Andes Mountains all the way out to the Atlantic. It is home to some unusual wildlife such as huemul deer and guanacos. While you’re here, you should also check out the fascinating Tehuelche cave paintings. If you want complete serenity away from the crowds, this is a great place to be.
If you are looking for something that will completely blow your mind, then look no further than the magnificent marble caves in the Aysen Region. Centuries of erosion from waves have created this natural wonder and the visuals here are utterly spectacular. Visitors can kayak or take boat tours through the caves to see them in all their glory. Touching the caves is not permitted but you are free to take photos. This is undoubtedly one of the region’s most popular attractions.
Situated within the Temperate Rainforest, which is notably more humid than the rest of Patagonia, the Queulat National Park offers visitors a striking landscape to admire. The main attraction of the park is its famous hanging glacier, from where a waterfall cascades down the cliff beneath it. There are a number of hiking routes that go through the forest here and boat tours that will take you through the fjords.
The phenomenal General Carrera Lake spans the border of Chile and Argentina – on the Argentine side, it is known as Lake Buenos Aires. It is the biggest lake in Chile and quite possibly one of the most beautiful too. Fringing its banks are miles of lush forest with dramatic mountains in the background. While Patagonia is generally rather chilly, the area around the lake has its own microclimate, which makes it delightfully sunny here. Most importantly, this lake is known for being the home of the stunning marble caves.
If you go to Patagonia and don’t seek out one of its magnificent glaciers then you are missing out. The most famous glacial resident of the Aysen Region is the San Rafael Glacier. This glacier regularly sheds chunks of its ice, which topple down into the San Rafael Lake below. Boats filled with visitors will have to carve their way through these mini icebergs to arrive at the face of the glacier. Spanning 760km², the San Rafael Glacier is one of the larger glaciers you will come across in Patagonia.
A small but charismatic village near the mouth of the Baker River, Caleta Tortel is not to be missed as you journey through the Aysen Region. There is a lack of traditional streets in this village but what it has instead is a series of wooden walkways that connects clusters of houses. The houses themselves are often built on stilts, giving the village a unique appearance. Caleta Tortel is the ideal destination for those seeking a bit of tranquility.
The Baker River is the largest river in Chile and remains one of the few rivers in the world that is completely free from dams and other inhibitors. The landscapes that surround the river are truly unforgettable, with plunging valleys and verdant hills stretching out as far as the eye can see. Aside from simply marveling at the scenery here, Baker River is a hotspot for fly-fishing and kayaking.
Those looking for some truly striking scenery won’t be disappointed by the sight of Cerro Castillo. Popular with hikers and mountaineers looking for a challenge, this jagged peak in the Cerro Castillo National Reserve is a formidable ascent. If you don’t want to have a go at reaching the summit, there are plenty of trekking routes around the base of Cerra Castillo.
If you want complete freedom on your trip to the Region de Aysen then it’s worth considering a road trip along the Carretera Austral. This scenic road runs for hundreds of miles through the region and passes through a number of must-see spots. Simply hire a sturdy vehicle and hit the open road. It’s up to you to decide when to stop.
- If you are planning on hiring a vehicle and travelling around the Aysen Region yourself then be sure to get a 4x4 as road conditions here can be sub-par.
- The weather in the Aysen Region can be temperamental so make sure you pack for all eventualities.
- If you can, learn some basic Spanish before you go as you might struggle to find English speakers.
- During peak season (December – February), accommodation can fill up so it pays to book in advance.
In short, the Region de Aysen deserves a place on your Chilean itinerary. Combining incredible scenery with an omnipresent sense of serenity, there is nothing not to love about this remarkable part of the country.