Aysen Glacier Trail: Patagonia Trek: An Exceptional, Remote Patagonia Adventure
Days: 11 | Contact us for pricing
Experience one of the world’s great treks. On this way off the beaten path adventure you'll trek across 3 glacial valleys and explore stunning, endangered wilderness.
- Includes accommodations at first class hotels that reflect the best of local culture
- Includes excursions and tours with superb private guides
Talk to a Vaya Travel
We tailor itineraries to your dates and interests, adjusting hotels, excursions and length as desired.
We consistently receive 5 star reviews from our discerning clients.
At a glance
1 night: discover Chile's capital city
9 nights: hike and camp in one of the world's top wilderness regions
All itineraries are fully customizable. We will send you a personalized variation that reflects your interests and travel dates at no extra cost. Call to discuss your travel plans with one of our Specialists who know this region firsthand.
Day by day itinerary
Welcome to Santiago
Arrive to Santiago, Chile’s metropolitan capital, where your private guide will take you to your boutique hotel in the charming Lastarria neighborhood. Lastarria is a nice area for walking around, with quiet streets, flowering trees, attractive colonial architecture, and a variety of restaurants and boutiques.
There are plenty of things to see and do in the Santiago area. Take a private tour of Santiago, either on your arrival day or as a one-day extension, or add a trip (day or overnight) to nearby wine country or the historic port city of Valparaíso. Just let us know your interests.
Accommodations: Hotel Orly
Hotel Orly enjoys a convenient location in the middle of Providencia, a nice area of Santiago. Its interior boasts wood floors, country-manor furnishings, and a glass-domed breakfast room. The hotel owns Cafetto, the downstairs cafe, known for its top-quality coffee drinks.Upgrade available: Lastarria Boutique Hotel, and others
Balmaceda to Puerto Bertrand
Fly south to Coyhaique or Balmaceda, where you will meet your guides. Travel along the beautiful Southern Highway to Puerto Bertrand (population 300), located at the headwaters of the Rio Baker, Chile’s most voluminous river. Settle in at your lodge and enjoy a welcome dinner with your guides and an orientation that will include final instructions and packing for the start of the trek.
Accommodations: Green Baker Lodge
Navigate 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, arrive at your first camp, which overlooks the concordance of three glacial valleys.
About 4 hours of hiking; 985 feet ascent and 330 feet descent; about 6 miles.
Accommodations: Rock Garden Camp
Continue through 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 arrive to the old growth beech forest of the Palomar Ranch, a non-functioning ranch where you will make camp for the night.
About 7 hours of hiking; 650 feet ascent and 650 feet descent; about 11 miles.
Accommodations: Camping at the Palomar Ranch
Set out for your most strenuous day of the trek. Cross through old growth forest, then climb up to the northern margin of the Nef Glacier. With crampons, cross the 4 mile-wide glacier. Descending the southern side of the glacier, climb up to the mirrored lakes and camp in a protected forest overlooking the Nef Glacier.
About 10-11 hours of hiking; 1,312 feet ascent, 330 feet descent; about 8.7 miles total with 4 miles on the glacier.
Accommodations: Laguna Espejo Camp
Nef Glacier / Mirador Summit
Take the day 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.
Accommodations: Laguna Espejo Camp
Buena Cueva Valley / Lake Cachet
Hike down the Buena Cueva Valley among old growth beech forest, Cypress-filled wetlands, and huge boulders, stopping for lunch next to a granite-encased waterfall with two major glaciers in view. 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.
About 7 hours of hiking; 985 feet descent, 330 feet ascent; about 6 miles.
Accommodations: Cachet Camp
Begin your day among glacial kettles and drumlins with continual views of icebergs and the 50-meter ice wall of the Colonia glacier. Follow the trail into the old growth beech forest on the edge of a 650 foot-deep canyon with a roaring river below. Your camp tonight overlooks the 2 mile-wide terminus of the Colonia Glacier.
About 6 hours of hiking; 1,312 feet ascent, 1,312 feet descent; about 6 miles.
Accommodations: Colonia Camp
Lago Colonia / Sol de Mayo Ranch
Hike down to the moss-covered beach, then 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, 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.
About 3 hours of hiking; 820 feet descent; about 4 miles.
Accommodations: Sol de Mayo Ranch Camp
Colonia River / Baker River
Take 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.)
Follow the Colonia River, passing 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.)
About 7 hours total of travel; 985 feet ascent, 1,043 feet descent; about 15 miles.
Accommodations: Green Baker Lodge
Return to Balmaceda
Head to Balmaceda airport early this morning to catch your flight to Santiago, where you can connect with your international flight home or to your next destination.
Popular Ways to Customize This Itinerary
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 board your boat and float south, running some fun class 3 rapids while enjoying the Patagonian scenery. Camp at the Salton San Carlos, an un-runnable class 6 gorge.
Day 12: Baker River
Explore 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 camp for the night.
Day 13: Baker River / Caleta Tortel
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 mile to Caleta Tortel, a small fishing town built on Cypress stilts. Here, celebrate your arrival to the Pacific Ocean at one of the local restaurants.
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.
Day 15: Return to Balmaceda
Why Travel with Vaya?
We're TRUE specialists
South America is the only place we do trips, and no one knows our destinations better. Our smart and engaging specialists are all current or former U.S. expatriates with years of experience in the region.
From the first phone call to after you get back, we’re here for you every step of the way. We listen, create, customize and advocate for you, and design experiences that go beyond the expected.
Thoughtful, respectful travel
Our discerning sensibility and good taste go beyond just choices in hotels and top guides; we have a walk the walk commitment to the environment and are genuine leaders in conservation efforts.