You may not have heard of the Aysén Region in northern Patagonia. And yet it’s one of the world's greatest trekking areas. Join us, and be among the first to visit the new Patagonia National Park.
11 Days, 10 Nights
Limited group size to maximize our backcountry access
The best of Patagonia minus the crowds—glacial peaks, turquoise lakes, exclusive park access, pristine scenery
Beautiful doesn’t even begin to describe this sunset. Overlooking a landscape of stunning, wind-swept gaucho country, cobalt blue lakes reflect jagged glacial peaks, rugged and mesmerizing. It’s only you and your companions, plus the cries of soaring birds and the occasional puma or deer-like huemul (Chile’s national animal) in the distance. You hiked every inch of the trail leading you to this glacial mountaintop to be rewarded with the stars shining over northern Patagonia, and it’s pure magic.
This is the Patagonia few have ever experienced. Over 11 unforgettable days we’ll explore the rugged and remote side of Patagonia, its towering glaciers and meandering rivers. We’ll hike through Cerro Castillo National Reserve (a more intimate experience than busy Torres del Paine) and be among the first to trek through the new Patagonia National Park, the 10-million-acre brainchild of Doug and Kristin Tompkins (of The North Face fame). We’ll be among the very first visitors. Every step will feel like it’s all ours.
If you crave adventure in untouched wilderness, this trip is for you. Each day brings a new journey, six to eight hours of trekking in pristine wilderness, as we venture forward into the 10-million acre last frontier of Chile. Join us in the Aysén, Patagonia’s little-known paradise.
Who It’s For
If you seek epic adventure, peaceful solitude and stunning landscapes—this trip is for you. We’ll hike across glaciers and snow-capped mountains, through vast old-growth forests, and raft untamed rapids in parts of Patagonia few others have visited.
Activity Level: Moderate
This trek is accessible for most age levels who maintain good physical fitness and are prepared for the demands of hiking in remote mountainous areas. We’ll cover 3-10 miles a day, and conquer wind, snow, rain and sunny skies—sometimes all in the same day.
How We Travel
This trek is led by experienced local guides. Most gear—including expedition-quality tents—is provided for us. We carry our own packs (30-40 pounds). Depending on the day, we’ll sleep in two- or four-person tents, mountain guesthouses, or in panoramic wilderness domes. All food is prepared for us.
“We want Chile to be internationally recognized for having the most spectacular scenic route in the world.” –Tompkins Conservation
“This is not only an unprecedented preservation effort, it’s an invitation to imagine other ways of rationally occupying our lands. It’s about generating sustainable development.” –Chilean President Michelle Bachelet
True wilderness. Epic exploration. Deep backcountry. Cultural immersion. We’ve scoured the earth for hidden gems and in 2019 we are inviting you to join us on one of these five exclusive trips. Let’s explore the trails less traveled, together.
Explore Chile’s Aysén region and experience first-hand why it's one of the trekking world's great secrets. Shimmering lakes, glaciers and snow-capped peaks as far south you can go without hitting ice.
Bienvenidos a Patagonia! We’ll meet up at the Balmeceda airport in Chile’s Aysén Region, then head to Coyhaique to a quiet and quaint bed and breakfast. Coyhaique is engulfed by rivers and snow-capped mountains, lending to its nickname: the city of eternal snow. The rest of the day is yours to wander the region’s capital city—which is more of a colorful main-street town dwarfed by mountainous terrain—go over the packing list, and get excited about the week ahead. At our hotel we’ll have a welcome dinner full of local flavor, get more acquainted and then dream about the trek ahead.
Our trek begins! After breakfast, it’s off to Cerro Castillo for our 17-kilometer (10.5-mile) hike into the nature reserve. Castillo means ‘castle’ in Spanish, and it’s easy to see where the name comes from: the jagged cliffs and black basalt crags rise around us and the flowing landscape like medieval parapets or gothic towers.
Following an old logging road we’ll pass by gaucho camps still used for livestock, and begin to get our first peeks at the crystal clear waters of Patagonia. After entering the nature reserve we’ll set up at Camp Turbio and eat a celebratory dinner before retiring to our tents and falling asleep listening to distant parakeet chirps and the winds through the piney lenga trees.
Our mountain ascent starts this morning. Making our way deeper through the Cerro Castillo National Reserve, we’ll cross Pinon Pass at 1,300 meters (4,265 feet) before a descent along rocky scree and frosty terrain. Our guides will lead us past the hanging Pinon Glacier, a suspended frozen valley of icy tundra, before helping us settle into camp at La Tetera for the evening.
Next morning, if you’re up for it, we’ll rise early to catch a truly awe-inspiring sunrise over the peaks of Cerro Castillo. We’ll start off passing by Cerro Castillo’s famous lagoon. You may have seen more than a few selfies taken from of this elliptical turquoise water nestled among snow-bound cliffs.
After an obligatory photo op, we’ll set out to climb Morro Negro, a 1,700-meter (5,575-foot) peak with vast slopes and earthy luster. The 11-kilometer trek will take us down to Camp Porteadores where we’ll set up camp for the night.
To start off the day feeling lighter on our feet, we’ll leave our packs and take a short hike up to Camp Neozelandes to scope out the views. The North face—yes, that North Face—of Cerro Castillo bids us buena suerte on our last day in this amazing reserve. Gaze out at the glacial basin and get inspired by the great outdoors. If it’s warm enough, we can continue to Lake Yagan for a dip in the clear and cold waters.
After retrieving our packs, we’ll depart the park via an easy hike through forested thickets of lenga trees and make our way back to civilization. Just outside Villa Cerro Castillo, we’ll sleep in style at a local guesthouse and enjoy the luxuries of a hot shower and home-cooked sit-down dinner.
The morning takes us to Puerto Ibáñez and the placid shores of Chile’s largest lake, Lago General Carrera, tucked on the divide between Argentina and Chile in the heart of the Andes. It’s had millions of years to develop its iconic rich blues through sediment called glacial flour; we’ll admire its shoreline on a ferry ride to the town of Chile Chico. From here, we’ll drive to Lago Jeinimeni and make our way into the wildest, most remote part of the trip.
Our short hike and river crossing near Lago Esmeralda will present us with more cascading treelines and calm turquoise waters. It’s only a bit further from here to Lago Verde, where we’ll set up camp.
Wake up to breakfast in a small lakeside shelter. We’ll fill up before beginning our journey to Valley Chacabuco and Patagonia National Park. Our most difficult, yet most rewarding day, we’ll trek through the Gloria Mountains along the Jeinemini river bed, and over Gloria Pass to awe-inspiring vistas on the western side of Lago Verde.
We’ll be among the first visitors to this new park, a 10 million-acre brainchild of Doug and Kristin Tompkins (of North Face fame), who invested $345 million to preserve wide expanses of Patagonia. We’ll be among the first to behold its sights and untouched lands. Take it all in before descending to the lakeshore and hiking to a newly renovated camping shelter. If we can muster any more motivation, seize the afternoon with another hike to explore Jeinimeni’s hanging glaciers—well worth the trip for more expansive terrain and crystal waters.
The name Hermoso Valley means ‘beautiful valley’—that doesn’t even begin to scratch the surface. This morning will lead us through a breathtaking traverse through towering mountains and glaciers, threading our way through streams and narrow paths.
We’ll continue south through lush lenga forests before connecting to the Aviles trail toward Mount Jeinemini. This 15-kilometer day brings us to the Aviles Valley, where we’ll pick a spot to make camp for the night.
On our final trekking day, we descend the Aviles Valley and follow the Pinturas and Aviles rivers through changing scenery and wildlife like guanacos and vizcaches).
We’ll make our first steps back toward civilization across the Berkley bridge over the churning Aviles River. The Stone House, a historic refurbished old puesto, will greet us among the waving poplars and refreshing valley breeze.
We’ve organized transportation to take us to our accommodations for the evening, trading our tents for incredible panoramic domes overlooking Lago General Carrera. We’ll drink in the incredible scenery we just toured, and sleep well under the Patagonia sky.
After a filling breakfast to warm us up, we’ll celebrate our trek with a day on the Rio Baker. Our expert river guides will take us over roaring rapids; get ready to paddle and get doused as we navigate through white-capped waves and swirling scenery.
All this will help us work up an appetite for our farewell barbeque—the Patagonia way. Sizzling fire-roasted meats lovingly and artfully served with local spices and sauces will be the perfect way to spend our last evening in this untouched paradise.
It’s time to say adios to our guides and fellow travelers. After breakfast, we’ll head back to Balmeceda airport for connecting flights back to Santiago, with turquoise waters and orange sunsets in our minds.
Through expansive mountainous terrain and immersive treks, every night will be a well-deserved chance to rest, relax and reflect on the day.
We'll camp in some of the most stunning—and remote—corners of Patagonia. We provide all the critical gear, including expedition-quality tents and cooking equipment, so we can experience everything the Aysén and northern Patagonia have to offer. We're experts at making camp life as comfortable and safe as possible.
Owners Ángel Lara and Adriana Hidalgo have transformed a once-quaint guesthouse into one of the most prestigious, and comfortable, hotels in Coyhaique in the heart of Chilean Patagonia. Twenty spacious rooms with views, plus an intimate 'great room' to kick back and relax by a roaring fire. Connected to El Reloj is award-winning restaurant El Ovejero, one of the truly excellent spots for a meal in all of Patagonia.
Just outside Villa Cerro Castillo, this quiet guesthouse is tucked along the Ibáñez River, full of bright-pink charm and glorious gardens. We'll catch our breath here and enjoy some of the owner's famous homemade cooking.
This is camping as good as it gets. Pared Sur is famous for its panoramic geodesic domes with views of Lago General Carrera and the mountains. Each dome gives the full wilderness experience with the comforts of a wood terrace, cozy beds, nightstands, heat and electricity. Enjoy an aperitivo in their lakeside soaking tubs while you watch the breathtaking sunset reflect off the glacial backdrop.
That’s OK, we have answers. Read our FAQs below or call +1 (503) 676-6795 to ask us any questions you have about traveling with Backpacker. We're here 8am-5pm weekdays, 9am-1pm Saturday Pacific.
Six nights of camping accommodations, four nights of hotel/lodge accommodations; all ground transportation; daily breakfasts, most lunches and dinners; expert local backpacking guides; porters; experiences, activities and tours included in itinerary; 4-season tents; fees and costs associated with any activity or experience listed in itinerary; gratuities for local guides. We will be joined for this adventure by expert expedition guides, each highly qualified in all necessary skills to safely guide us throughout the mountains. A Modern Adventure Trip Leader will join the group as an experienced travel guide, and the person to go to with questions or concerns on the trip. Additional support staff will include porters to help carry our group's gear.
This is considered a moderate backpacking adventure. Moderate: This is wild country. We’ll hike anywhere from 3–10 miles a day over uneven terrain and up and down steep switchbacks, while carrying packs up to 60 liters including our own sleeping bag, mattress pads and personal items. This region contains extremely variable weather – it’s not uncommon to have blue skies, rain, snow and wind all in the same day. We strongly recommend that participants have a good level of fitness and are well prepared and have at least some hiking experience. The support staff that will be on this adventure will be with us for the entirety of the adventure helping us carry group supplies and helping us see the true Patagonian experience.
We recommend arriving at the Balmeceda Airport (BBA) in Balmaceda, Chile on or before Saturday, November 3, 2019 prior to 4pm on November 3, 2019. This adventure will end on November 13, 2019. As a part of your booking cost, we will take a private group transfer to Balmeceda Airport, where your flight should depart from BBA no sooner than 6pm on November 13, 2019.
We will be spending our nights split between a variety of accommodations. For the five nights we camp in the wilderness Modern Adventure provides expedition quality double-occupancy tents, as well as group-sized tarp shelters for enjoying meals in. Not only does including the finest equipment make camp life more comfortable, it also ensure we have all the necessary gear to stay safe and comfortable on our trip. In addition to camping, we stay at hotels and fully kitted domes as we backpack through the beautiful Chilean landscapes.
This adventure is recommended for travelers aged 20 and above who are in good health and have some experience with backpacking. You can expect to be joined by a variety of guest including couples, friends traveling together and solo travelers. We'll also be joined by local backpacking guides, porters, and a Modern Adventure Trip Leader.
Prices are based on double occupancy - if you would like to be paired up with a roommate you should choose 'Single: Willing to Share’ at check out. Modern Adventure will pair you up with a roommate of the same gender to share tent and lodge accommodations. If you are a solo traveler and want to have your own accommodations, a supplement will apply at checkout – these spots are very limited due to the type of accommodations on our adventure and are available on a first-come, first-serve basis (See our Terms and Conditions for full details).
U.S. citizens staying for less than 90 days do not require a visa to enter Chile. The passport must have at validity for the entirety of your stay to be allowed entry. For citizens of other countries, please check with the Chilean Embassy or Consulate for information and requirements.
Roundtrip airfare to/from Chile; travel insurance; transportation to the trip’s meeting point; activities not included in the trip itinerary; personal incidentals including room service, laundry, etc; personal gear; gratuity for tour leader.
You may cancel on or before July 30, 2019 and receive a full refund minus a $500 per-person service fee. If you cancel between July 31 and September 3, 2019, there is a 50% cancellation fee. On or after September 4, 2019 there is a 100% cancellation fee. We highly recommend purchasing travel insurance as we are not able to make exceptions to this policy in cases family/medical emergency or cases of the trip being cancelled (See our Terms and Conditions for full details).