Villa Cerro Castillo – Chile (Carretera Austral)
Located 95km south of Coyhaique, Villa Cerro Castillo feels more like a small settlement than a village, with only a few small streets and shops. But this little town is dominated by the impressive basalt spires and glaciers of its namesake, the Cerro Castillo National Reserve, a huge wild mountainous area with glaciers and spectacular views. Cerro Castillo has the ingredients to become “the new Torres del Paine” with the main difference that you will find a lot less people here! Villa Cerro Castillo, at the south end of the park, is the perfect base to explore it.
The people of the village are horseback riding specialists, and the Ibañez valley is a wonderful spot to go for a walk or ride. But the main attraction is going up into the park to the Cerro Castillo Lagoon at 1600m with jaw-dropping views of the lagoon, a hanging glacier and the valley. Go on horseback for the first half up and continue on foot, a really unforgettable and recommendable experience, or do the whole ascent with your own pure body strength.
Hardcore hikers will definitely go for the 4-5 day hike starting from Las Horquetas Grandes at the northern entrance of the park, a spectacular high route via glaciers, rivers and lakes, ending in Villa Cerro Castillo. If you have all the equipment you can do the hike on your own, otherwise you can rent it or hire a local guide in the village (we recommend to hire a guide).
A short 3km walk south from the village you’ll find the Aleros de las Manos, a natural rock shelter with interesting Tehuelche rock paitings.
NO ATM OR PETROL!
TURISMO AL GALOPE LA ARAUCARIA – Budget & Flashpacker Category
Walk the short distance from the Carretera Austral through the village to the end. Here you will find Turismo El Galope La Araucaria, with its inviting big green grounds.
It’s a wonderful campsite with brand-new toilets & showers and also domes (modern tents with a floor & bunk beds, a dorm in fact), comfy private rooms and gorgeous fully equipped cabins. The campsite’s huge quincho has a large dining room, a handy big kitchen and a ping pong table. New are two wonderful hot tubs with an amazing view, and a snack bar, perfect when you don’t feel like cooking.
On request, Felidor, the owner, starts up a fire for a Patagonian asado, a traditional way to prepare a juicy lamb, a unique experience! He also organizes spectacular horse riding tours with his own horses. The full-day horseback & trekking tour up to the Laguna Cerro Castillo is insanely beautiful, or do a shorter one in the valley.
Enjoy El Galope La Araucaria, where you really have that countryside feeling with the big barn, the horses & equipment and breathtaking sunrises!