Aisén; Coyhaique, Chilean Fjords

Oct 12, 2017 - National Geographic Explorer


Early this morning the ship made its way through the channels and between the islands toward the small port town of Chacabuco and Aisén. This is the last main town along the coast southward from Puerto Montt. It is also the last port facility until the very southern part of the fjords. It is also one of the only places in the Chilean fjords where one can have road access inland to the mountains. During early breakfast the bridge anchored off the port and Zodiacs were prepared to shuttle us ashore. The morning threatened rain but with luck it would hold off for our activities - which it did!

Two options were available to the group. The first to go ashore were a bit more than half of the group looking forward to an all day excursion inland. About an hour later the second group were shuttled ashore for a half-day excursion to a small private reserve nearby the port. Both groups would have a chance to walk through some of the forest and also to experience a typical Chilean/Patagonia meal - asado.

The all day trip gave people a chance to view the spectacular scenery and actually go into the Andes.  Everywhere in Patagonia is spread out and in order to get to a nature reserve for a hike we drove for about an hour on the only road going from the coast inland. Along the route we made a stop at a lovely waterfall for photos. Then we continued up into the mountains traveling along the rushing Simpson River.

Our destination was the Coyhaique Nature Reserve just outside of the small town with the same name.  Everyone quickly started on the trail with those wanting a faster walk in the lead. Others took their time looking for birds and taking in the forest and scenery. After about 1.5 hours we arrived at a cabin and open lawn area where a delicious snack was waiting to refresh us. Then further along to Lago Verde or Green Lake for a quick walk around the lake. Just after noon we headed toward our typical Chilean aside - slow cooked lamb. Greeted with pisco sours and the sounds of a local musician, we then consumed a wonderful meal with vegetables, salad, and endless supply of tender lamb. On the way back to the port many people rested and napped.

For those who had taken the half-day excursion option this morning by driving to the small private reserve near the port, their trail was extremely nice and well maintained. Local guides in addition to our naturalists escorted us on the trail and interpreted some of the natural history of the flora and fauna. By mid-day the asado slow cooked lamb was tender and ready for our eating. It was a delicious lunch. We then returned to the ship in the middle of the afternoon.

In the late afternoon once everyone was transported back to the waiting ship, we left this protected port and again weaved our way through the islands and in the channels of the Chilean fjords.

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About the Author

Bud Lehnhausen

Naturalist

Bud received an undergraduate degree in wildlife biology at Colorado State University. He then immediately went to Alaska where he worked and lived for 30 years. At the University of Alaska, Fairbanks, Bud studied wildlife biology and received a master's degree conducting research on four species of alcid seabird nesting on a remote island in the Gulf of Alaska.

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