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Aysen Glacier Trail: Patagonia Trek

Itinerary in Brief:  An Exceptional, Remote Patagonia Adventure

  • One of the world’s great treks
  • Way off the beaten path adventure
  • 7 nights camping/3 nights hotels
  • Northern Patagonia Ice Cap
  • Stunning, endangered wilderness
  • Cross the Nef Glacier
  • Trek across 3 glacial valleys
  • Outstanding meals throughout
  • See below for further details
  • Email or call us with questions

Day by Day Itinerary

Included meals are indicated in parentheses: (B,L,D)

Day 1        Arrive to Santiago

Arrive to Santiago. Upon arrival to Santiago you will be met at the airport by a local representative and transferred to your hotel. (Depending on your arrival time, we can also arrange a privately guided city tour of Santiago.)
Hotel Orly or similar

Day 2       Balmaceda to Puerto Bertrand

You will be picked up from your hotel and transferred to the airport for your flight to Coyhaique or Balmaceda. Upon arrival you will be met by your guides. You will start by transferring along the beautiful Southern Highway to Puerto Bertrand (population 65), located at the headwaters of the Rio Baker, Chile’s most voluminous river. After settling in at the lodge you will have a welcome dinner with your guides and an orientation that will include final instructions and packing for the start of the trek.
Green Baker Lodge (B,L,D)

Day 3        Soler Valley

In the morning you will spend a few more minutes for any last minute packing, have breakfast and then take a boat trip across the emerald blue Lago Bertrand and Lago Plomo (1 hour). After a 4-hour hike that traverses the flanks of the Cordon Soler above the Soler River, you will arrive at your first camp, which overlooks the concordance of three glacial valleys.
(350 meters ascent and 100 meters descent, 10 km)
Rock Garden Camp (B,L,D)

Day 4        Soler Valley

Today you will continue toward the back of the Soler Valley, descending to the valley floor and walking through the glacial concordance you saw from above. This is a full day of trekking (approx. 7 hours), at the end of which you will arrive to the old growth beech forest of the Palomar Ranch, a non-functioning ranch where you will make camp for the night.
(7 hour hike, 200 meters ascent and 200 meters descent, 18 km)
Camping at the Palomar Ranch (B,L,D)

Day 5         Nef Glacier

Today is the most strenuous day of the trek. You will cross through old growth forests, then climb up to the northern margin of the Nef Glacier. With crampons you will cross the 7 kilometer-wide glacier. Descending the southern side of the glacier, you will climb up to the mirrored lakes and camp in a protected forest overlooking the Nef Glacier.
(10-11 hours hiking, 400 meters ascent, 100 meters descent, 14 km total, 7 km on the glacier)
Laguna Espejo Camp (B,L,D)

Day 6        Nef Glacier / Mirador Summit

You will have today free to explore the area around Lago Espejo or climb to the Mirador summit for expansive views of the 3 glaciers that fill the valleys in this corner of the northern ice cap. Alternatively, this day can be used to cross the Nef Glacier if you encountered non-ideal weather the day before.
Laguna Espejo Camp (B,L,D)

Day 7        Buena Cueva Valley / Lake Cachet

Today you will hike down the Buena Cueva Valley among old growth beech forests, Cypress-filled wetlands, and huge boulders, stopping for lunch next to a granite-encased waterfall with two major glaciers in view. You will then continue along the shores of Cachet Dos Lake and the challenging talus slope. Your camp tonight has a full view of one of the most dynamic glacial settings on the Aysen Glacier Trail.
(7 hours hiking, 300m descent, 100m ascent, 10 km. total)
Cachet Camp (B,L,D)

Day 8       Colonia Glacier

The day begins among glacial kettles and drumlins with continual views of icebergs and the 50-meter ice wall of the Colonia glacier. You will follow the trail into the old growth beech forest on the edge of a 200 meter-deep canyon with a roaring river below. Your camp tonight overlooks the 3 kilometer-wide terminus of the Colonia Glacier.
(6 hours hiking, 400m ascent, 400m descent, 10 km. total)
Colonia Camp (B,L,D)

Day 9      Lago Colonia / Sol de Mayo Ranch

After hiking down to the moss-covered beach, you will follow the trail to the northern shore of Lago Colonia. After a 45-minute boat ride across the lake, during which you will have spectacular views of glacial waterfalls, you will hike for about an hour to the Sol de Mayo Ranch, a working ranch steeped in Gaucho culture. Here you will partake in a traditional Patagonian barbecue.
(3 hours hiking, 250 meters descent, 6 kilometers, 45-minute boat ride)
Sol de Mayo Ranch Camp (B,L,D)

Day 10       Colonia River / Baker River

Today begins with a horse-assisted hike down the Colonia valley to the Rio Baker. Horses will carry all of your gear, lightening the load for your last long hike out the spectacular Colonia Valley. (Note: If you prefer to ride this day, you will need to reserve a horse when you book the trek.) As you follow the Colonia River, you will pass through several ranches. For those wishing to continue down the Rio Baker by raft, this is the meeting point. Otherwise, you will use a traditional cableway raft to cross the Rio Baker, then meet up with 4×4 vehicles for the 1.5-hour drive through the Valle Grande to the provincial capital, Cochrane. Sometimes the road through Valle Grande can be flooded; if this is the case, you will use a motorboat (3 hours) to reach Cochrane, for a short stop in the municipal capital before driving the last hour to Puerto Bertrand. For those wishing to continue the trip down the Rio Baker, there is the option of adding a 3-night rafting excursion that follows the Baker all the way out to the Pacific Ocean, camping along the way until you get to Caleta Tortel, where the river empties into the sea. (If interested in this option, please inquire.)
(7 hours travel, 300 meters ascent, 318 meters descent, 24 kilometers)
Green Baker Lodge (B,L,D)

Day 11       Return to Balmaceda

In the early morning you will be transferred to the Balmaceda airport to catch your flight to Santiago, where you will connect with your international flight home or continue your trip to other parts of Chile. (B)

For those wishing to do the rafting trip down the Baker River, the itinerary would continue as follows starting with Day 11:

Day 11     Baker River

In the morning you will board your boat and float south, running some fun class 3 rapids while enjoying the Patagonian scenery. You will camp at the Salton San Carlos, an un-runnable class 6 gorge.
River Camp at Salton San Carlos (B,L,D)

Day 12         Baker River

The morning is dedicated to exploring the gorge and tunnels cut by early explorers of the region, who opened up the Colonia valley for farming in the late 1930s. You will portage rafts and gear around the waterfall, re-launching the rafts below the powerful Salton Falls before continuing with a more tranquil float to the Rio Vargas area, where you will camp for the night.
River Camp at Arratia ranch (B,L,D)

Day 13       Baker River / Caleta Tortel

You will continue to float toward the ocean as the river meanders through increasingly verdant forests. This is a long day on the river; on the calmer stretches, you will tie your rafts together and enjoy a floating lunch. Late in the day you will row into the Pacific Ocean and continue the final kilometer to Caleta Tortel, a small fishing town built on Cypress stilts. Here, you will celebrate your arrival to the Pacific Ocean at one of the local restaurants.
Residencial Estilo (B,L,D)

Day 14       Caleta Tortel / Puerto Bertrand

The morning will start with a beautiful 3-kilometer walk along cypress boardwalks to the loading dock, where you will begin your scenic 5-hour drive back to Puerto Bertrand. In the evening you will settle into the Green Baker Lodge, where you can relax and celebrate your completion of the entire Hydrologic Cycle of the Rio Baker and Northern Patagonian Ice Field.
Green Baker Lodge (B,L,D)

Day 15        Return to Balmaceda

In the morning you will be transferred to the Balmaceda airport to catch your flight to Santiago, where you will connect with your international flight home or continue your trip to other parts of Chile. (B)

* The itinerary is subject to change due to weather patterns, the strength of the group, or other reasons.