8 Things to Know before visiting Pumalin National Park

8 Things to Know before visiting Pumalin National Park

Pumalin National Park is a 400, 000-hectare nature reserve which is located in the Palena Province in Chile. It was created by the United States environmental foundation, and was designated a Nature Sanctuary in 2005. Like its sister, Torres del Paine National Park, it is visited by many people every year. Pumalin National Park used to be Chile’s largest private nature reserve and now offers public access offering extensive trails and campgrounds.

Pumalin National Park received its name from the language of the Huilliche people, “Pu” is place and “malin” means flooded area. So together the name refers to “watery place”. The park boasts ancient forests that give way to fjords, rivers, glaciers, volcanoes, waterfalls and lakes. Approximately 25% of the thousand-year-old alerce trees (Fitzroya) left in the world still grow in Pumalin till this day.

Pumalin National Park is special as the temperature was untouched by the ice that covered almost the entire region 14 000 years ago. The forests were preserved and their many endemic species have been protected for millennia. If you want to learn more about this magnificently sacred place on earth, keep reading.

A Carretera Austral Adventure: Pumalin National Park

Pumalin carretera austral

Carretera Austral flaunts a variety of hiking trails waiting to be trotted. Explore this watery land and find crystal clear rivers, breathtaking glaciers, glittery lakes, and lush forests. It is a true gem in Patagonia, especially if nature adventures are your type of vibe.

There is something to do for everyone, from hiking, biking, fishing, canoeing, camping, and more. It is a highly protected area, and you will witness how conservation of such a large area helps to preserve the ancient flora and fauna of the sacred land. It is an experience more that anything else, and hard to fully put into words.

The History

Pumalin Alerce tree

An American business magnate, Douglas Tompkins, discovered these ancient forests with its wild alerce trees in 1989 and was inspired to look for ways to help preserve them. A couple of years later in 1991, he bought around 41 500 acres of land in the Reñihué Valley, along the Comao Fjord.

Douglas and his wife were conservationists and decided to settle in the area permanently. At the beginning of the 90s, Reñihué Valley was a high-risk area for logging. Together they formed the Tompkins Conservation, and they acquired around 692 000 acres of land, which started the long journey of creating Pumalín Park.

Initially he wasn’t accepted by the locals, and they only perceived him as a foreigner who has enough money to buy their land. Then as the Douglas Tompkins foundation developed a tourist network which allowed visitors to completely enjoy the beautiful, but protected nature – and support the local community – he was viewed differently.

The difference between Pumalin North & South

Pumalin National Park is divided into two sectors.  Pumalin North is only accessible by water and it can be done through doing a 4-10 kayak trip, a small cruise, or by private boat.  The last two options can be done in one day.

Pumalin South is divided into another two sections. The little ghost town of Chaiten is located in the middle.  More south, the first part of Pumalin South that you will encounter is between Caleta Gonzalo and Chatien. Stunning hikes and pristine waterfalls can be found here, which leads to the Michimahuda and Chaiten Volcanoes.

The second sector of the south is where you can find a breathtaking hike to a hanging glacier called Ventisquero El Amarillo. There are also some other beautiful landscapes that you will see as there are a few different hikes to choose from.

Hike Chaitén Volcano

Chaiten Volcano

This sleeping beauty erupted the last time in May 2008, and before that was dormant for more than 9000 years. The eruption had a huge impact on the town, and the park was closed for two years after that. The town of Chaiten is now located ten kilometers north from its original location.

The forest has still not fully recovered after the eruption, but it is still a beautiful hike to the volcano.  You will see lagoons, incredible plants and trees, lakes, mountains, and even the ocean. The trail is 2.5 kilometers long and it takes around three hours to complete.

The starting point of the journey is from Chaiten. You can take public transportation or a private car to the start of Sendero El Chaiten. The road is in a good condition and the drive does not take long.

Caleta Gonzalo-Cascadas

Caleta Gonzalo

One of the most popular trails in the park is Caleta Gonzalo-Cascadas. The starting point is close to the dock where the ferry and private boats drop off all new arriving visitors, making it the most accessible hike too. Visitors can drop off their packs right across the trailhead where the campsite is located before embarking on the journey.

Due to its convenience, most visitors prefer to do this hike first when arriving at the park. The trailhead is located right across from the Caleta Gonzalo ranger station. It is a very scenic trail and medium in difficulty. It will take you through a dense forest, through rivers, over rocks and you will be rewarded with a stunning waterfall at the end.

Explore the fjords

Fjords Pumalin Chile

Pumalin National Park offers all adventurous travelers an endless selection of opportunities for exploration. This includes wild-life-watching, relaxing sunsets, and learning from mother nature. If you would like to explore the stunning fjords, there is even more adventure in store for you!

The stunning Camao and Reñihué fjords can be viewed via sea kayaking, and it also serves as a chance to see dolphins, sea lions and even whales. Through hiking you can also access the fjords, just be cautious to check the difficulty levels and come well prepared. If this is your kind of vibe, be sure to learn more about the Marble Caves, which are also located in Chile.

Discover Pumalin National Park with Kuoda

Pumalin National Park

As you can see it is quite an adventure and an adrenaline rush to visit Pumalin National Park. It promises a memorable journey, the opportunity to immerse yourself deeply into mother nature’s majestic beauty, and take on life-changing experiences like hiking, sea kayaking and more.

We at Kuoda understand the frustrations and struggles that go into planning a cohesive trip like this one, especially when you want to include your visit to the park with other trips to top destinations in Chile.

Kuoda specializes in custom-made travel experiences that include everything that you need for you and your family. Contact us today and talk to one of our trip designers to discuss your personal requirements.

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