For the adventurous peak bagger, this area is a paradise. Unnamed and rarely, if ever climbed peaks surround the Valle Bonito in every direction. Steep forested ascents of 2000-3000 feet lead to rugged alpine country and ascents of 5000-7000 vertical feet are necessary to to gain the uppermost ridge lines and peaks. Above tree line in this part of Patagonia is a special place. The far reaching vistas encompass seemingly endless peaks, glaciers, lakes, rivers and remote valleys. Access to these areas is difficult and the backcountry traveler should prepare for long, hard days on marginal to non existent trails.
Of course, you don’t have to be a peak bagger to enjoy an array of great walks in the area. There is an easy one to three hour round trip hike from the Lodge that visits Lago Espolon and the Devils’ Throat, a breathtaking gorge that is the outlet of the Lake and the beginning of the Espolon River. Falling over 500 feet in less than a mile, it is an impressive site. At the lake our neighbors often cook up a typical chilean lunch for us and we get to spend some quality time with them in the lakeside house.
The five mile walk to the town of Futaleufu follows the Espolon River through lush pasture land into the coolest town in Southern Chile. A full day can be spent hiking to town and back, enjoying great scenery and Chilean culture on the way. A favorite option on the way home is to visit Eagle Rock(pictured above) for a sweet taste of classic Chilean scenery.
Parque Pumalin which is on the coast and about 3 hours from the Valle Bonito offers a network of trails along the fiords and through magnificent old growth forests including the Alerce trees which have been know to attain ages of 3500 years. The Park has done an excellent job of creating a low impact trail system and many days can be spent exploring all that it has to offer. Without the trail system here, the rain forest is virtually un-penetrable so these new trails are opening up areas that have never been seen by a human. In may of 2008, the Chaiten Volcano in the park exploded and flash floods destroyed the port town and regional capital of Chaiten. The town is being rebuilt and people are living there again trying to rebuild after a huge natural disaster. The Volcano itself is till mildly active and in the path of destruction there is now a trail that leads up to view the caldera. From there you can look out into the vast archipelago on this part of the coast and see countless peaks, glaciers and steep volcanoes jutting out of the sea.
Whatever your walking pleasure, here in Patagonia, you can experience some of the most breathtaking scenery and genuine local culture on earth from your own two feet.