19 Jul 2012
With so much to offer outdoor enthusiasts, the awe-inspiring hinterlands of Puerto Montt can be overwhelming to navigate for visitors.
Here we present three more destinations in our series of insider guides to exploring northern Patagonia's plethora of destinations. This week, we focus on the region's scenic highlights, including thermal mud baths, ancient forested valleys and estuarine channels streaming inland from the Pacific Ocean.
Northeast of Puerto Montt, Llanquihue National Reserve is part of the Southern Andes Temperate Rainforest Biosphere Reserve along with seven other protected areas in southern Chile. Thanks to near-constant humidity and moderate temperatures, this reserve possesses a dazzlingly soft scenery of mosses and ferns. Visitors can traverse this mystical landscape on an eight kilometer trail leading to an overlook at the base of Volcán Calbuco – a 2,000 meter volcano that last erupted in the 1960s – and appreciate a spectacular vista of the valley.
Getting there: The entrance to Llanquihue National Reserve is located along the road to Lake Chapo, eight kilometers from the small locale of Correntoso. Upon reaching the town of Río Bueno, follow the road north to reach the ranger station. Local buses from Puerto Montt or Puerto Varas heading toward Río Bueno are an option for accessing the reserve.
Three of the south's crystalline rivers – Puelo, Cochamó and Petrohué, pour into the Gulf of Reloncaví, an elongated estuary connected to Reloncaví Bay and separated from the Pacific Ocean by the Gulf of Ancud. This narrow inland stretch of briny water is bordered by breathtaking mountains, national parks and small southern towns. From the nautical port of Angelmó in Puerto Montt, visitors can take a boat tour out into the estuary, an unforgettable way to experience the exuberant landscape of this magical passage.
A six hour boat ride brings visitors to the idyllic town of Cochamó, shielded within a bay facing an impressive backdrop of snowcapped peaks and volcanoes. From Cochamó, local buses back to Puerto Montt are available. Take advantage of the clear, rushing rivers alongside the estuary to practice sport fishing, a major regional attraction.
Getting there: The port of Angelmó is located along the coast in the heart of Puerto Montt. Consult with port authorities for Gulf of Reloncaví tour schedules and operators.
Located in Ralún, on the northeast bank of the Petrohué River, the thermal mud baths of Ralún sit on the edge of Vicente Pérez Rosales National Park. Visitors can access these phenomenally natural hot springs via boat, crossing the Petrohué River, and enjoy a dip in the river's fresh waters between soaks in the thermal baths. The natural clay in and around the baths makes for a wonderful, all-organic facial, which visitors can enjoy after a day of hiking along the varied trails of Vicente Pérez Rosales National Park.
Getting there: Buses to Ralún from Puerto Montt or Puerto Varas will bring visitors within a short distance of the thermal baths and Vicente Pérez Rosales National Park.
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