This route follows a trail of early settlements and cattle trade. It passes through some of the most beautiful, ecologically significant areas of southern Chile. You may begin in the village of Cochamó where one can buy foodstuffs, rent horses and hire a guide. Give the uncertainty of natural conditions along the way, a local guide and horses, at least for luggage, are highly recommended. Along this route you will be able to appreciate a great diversity of ecosystems, fauna, and flora as well as high Andean lakes, crystalline rivers, and mountain cattle farms. The highlights of the tour are "La Junta" with its intact native forest, "Vidal Gormaz" region with its natural beauty and quaint human settlements. Because there is often snow in the upper parts of the trail, it is recommended that you hike during the summer (December onwards).
Nevertheless, even in summer, the route to Lake Vidal Gormaz can be both muddy and challenging. Those who want to walk should be in good physical condition. When water levels are high crossing the various rivers can also pose a problem. It is therefore necessary to allow for an extra day in case of crossing difficulties. Since there are no settlements on the first segment of the route it is important to bring tents, waterproof clothing and enough food for at least the first 3 days.
Information upon arrive in Cochamó: coordination office, municipal Cochamó near the village's entrance.
Cochamó to Lake Vidal Gormaz
This route begins on the Cochamó rive bridge and continues up the river's north bank. The first 7 km of the road is gravel, which later becomes dirt. Finally the order ends in an easily identifiable trail to la junta. In order to avoid the gravel road one can follow the river's south bank and cross further upstream at a ford. This option requires that you ask permission to cross private land. The height of the trail ranges from a few to 100 meters above the river. After passing through a narrow in the Cochamó River Valley and arriving in La Junta, you will enjoy spectacular vistas of the carved granite cliffs. Camping in possible in this sector. The route from La Junta to Arco is rich in both diversity and breathtaking scenery. As you gradually climb the Rio Cochamó Valley from La Junta, you will cross various rivers: La Junta, Traidor, Valverde and finally in El Arco, a river of the same name. As the name indicates, El Arco features an arc of natural rock that crosses a small waterfall with a single Alerce tree on top. We recommend you hike this route in one day and spend the night in Arco's rustic refuge. The refuge is located just above the Arco Rive in a meadow to the right. On the following stretch to Lake Vidal Gormaz places to camp are scarce if the necessity arises. In the forests around El Arco you will encounter examples of giant Alerce trees, some as many as 1000 years old. Nature lovers will find this hike through the forest truly enjoyable. Orientation yourself on the route from El Arco to lake Vidal Gormaz is difficult. We recommend that a local guide accompany you. The trail passes through one of the most impressive forested landscapes in all the tour. Along the length of this stretch you will cross streams and small rivers as the road continues climbing towards the El Arco Lake Vidal Gormaz pass. On the other side of the pass you will find a beautiful mountain lake which the trail also passes through spectacular virgin forests composed of Tepa, Manio and Coigue and then descend, leaving the forest behind. You then come to the typical cattle ranching lands of southern Chile and beautiful Lake Vidal Gormaz where you may cam.
From Lake Vidal Gormaz to the El Leon pass through por Torrentoso
The main route follows the western shore of Lake Vidal Gormaz. The path follows along the lake's pebble beaches and then climbs upwards, snaking high above the shore, offering occasional views of the spectacular lake. Upon arriving at the lake's southernmost point, follow the trail and then in the Torrentoso sector, take the wooden bridge. In this area you can visit petroglyphs of unknown origin. There abstract red geometric figure of different size are painted directly on the granite rock. Consult the locals from their exact location. After the Torrentoso sector there are two options: down the Manso River and then on to lake Tagua Tagua (as described later on) or up the Manso River to the northeast towards el Leòn. During the whole length of the hike, the path climbs and falls noticeably along the north side of the Rio Manso valley. You may catch occasional glimpses of the Manso River's turquoise waters far below the Los Leones rive on a small footbridge and then continue on towards Argentina. There are various possible excursions in the El Leon alto and lakes Oscura and Brava.
From lake Vidal Gormaz to El Leon through Los Leones Valley
It is also possible to go directly to El Leon. Follow the northeast border of Lake Vidal Gormaz up to ceros Quemados and then along the flank of the hills to Portezuelo Fischer.
From there the trail continues to the southeast along the highest part of this mountainous chain. And offers excellent views of Los Leones Valley. It then descends to Brava Lake, where you can find a decent sport for camping on the southeast shore. The main route to the Leones Valley offers beautiful views of this inhabited valley on the way down. Further on you may cross to the east bank of Los Leones River on a small log bridge and continue downstream without crossing again until El Leon.
From El Leon to Argentina
It is to do a day hike from El Leon to Argentina. Exist stamp you passport at the "Retén de carabineros" or police outpost in El Leon. The trail to Argentina borders the north bank of the Manso River. Shortly after leaving El Leon, you will cross the Chilean- Argentina border. The trail continues along the north bank until it reaches the argentine police outpost. Here you can cross the Manso River on a hanging bridge and hire transportation or walk the gravel road to villa Villegas you can take a bus to Bolsòn and Puelo Lake. You can then re-enter Chile through the El Bolsòn pass, and continue you excursion down river in the Puelo valley towards the Pacific Ocean.
From El León – Torrentoso to El Manso
To follow the Manso River downward, use the trail to Torrentoso as previously described in the Torrentoso- El Leon Route. Upon arriving at the Torrentoso sector, you cross the Torrentoso River by bridge and continue up the trail to the trail to the landing strip. Cross the strip to the forest on the other side. The trail continue in the heights of the Manso River's west bank to the point where the Manso River's west bank to the point where the Manso and Frio rivers join. In the Steffen River sector you will find houses.
Shortly thereafter, walk downhill to the Steffen River and cross the bridge. This section of the trail is full of steep hills before the final descent to Manso River. Continue as the trail widens and become easier to follow near the El Manso sector. The route borders the Manso River until it reaches the landing strip and supermarket. Local near the supermarket is the new gravel road which conveniently leads to Lake Tagua Tagua. You can cross the lake by ferry or private boat and continue your journey on to the town of Rio Puelo. In El Manso you also have the option of continuing your excursion and ascending the Puelo Valley towards Argentina's Puelo Lake as previously described.