Eco-tourism router in the Rio Puelo valley the Rio Puelo valley can be accessed and crossed via Puelo on the coast of the pacific ocean (reloncaví estuary) at the Argentina border (or vice versa). This glacial valley.
Features the Puelo River with its abundant waters. The are is surrounded by mountains, sprinkled with waterfalls, lakes, and lagoons. In this part of the country there are rare native species of plants and animals. Most of these species are in danger of extinction, such as Alerce, huemul, pudues, puma, and condor. You may also encounter an "exotic" animal that crossed over from Argentina, the javalìna, a wild boar that mixes with the domestic pigs the region.
In terms of the different routes for exploring the distinct sectors of the valley, it is important to point out that, due to the many existing trails, you can easily loose orientation. It is therefore recommended that you hire a local guide. Various settlers offer guiding service as well as horses for horseback riding or luggage transport.
Throughout the entire valley you will find small settlements where you can buy food an find a place for camping. For a greater variety of food and lodging you'll need to reach Llanada Grande or Segundo Corral.
Exploring the Rio Puelo valley by the Western Banks
Cross lake Tagua Tagua and walk to the mouth of the Mallìn River where the trail to the Traidor River begind. There you may hire a boat to take you across the rive. The trail continues on the western side of the Puelo towards the Santo Domingo sector. After crossing the Puelo in one of the local boats, take the main road to Llanada Grande. You may also choose to take the communal road located on the same bank to the river crossing UN la Vega. From there you can continue on to Llanada Grande or elsewhere. The route described is a viable alternative for avoiding the gravel road, but can only be done with the help of a local guide.
From lake Tagua Tagua to Llanada Grande on the Main Road
This route is relatively new with contruction being completed in 2001.This gravel road connects Llanada Grande with lake Tagua Tagua where both ferry and privately owned boats are available for crossing. The road then continues, crossing the Manso River, climbing towards the Los Guindos sector and then on to the Santo Domingo sector. After arriving at the Negro River Bridge, the road enters the Rio Alerce Valley and leads to Llanada Grande, the main village in the sector. This new gravel road may serve for bicycle trips some time in the future, while there are much better options for hiking and horseback riding throughout the Puelo valley.
Llanada Grande to Primer Corral
There are various options on this route. All routes begin with the main trail that passes Totoral Lake and the Mapocho River, 4.5 kilometers thereafter. You can follow the Blanco River (whit rapids), to the wooden bridge that crosses the Puelo. (The distance from Llanada Grande to primer corral is about 20 km.).Another alternative is to pass the Puelo River crossing (DO NOT CROSS THE RIVER) and continue on to Verde Lake. After the lake, the trail descends southward towards. Las Cataratas River which you can cross by bridge. Shortly after crossing you will arrive at the Puelo Bridge in Primer Corral. (This route from Llanada Grande to Primer Corral is about 20 km.).
Primer Corral to Segundo Corral
This is a beautiful route tracing high above the water alonge the western side of the Puelo. At some points the river in visible between the granite mountains. The route is mostly forest with a few clearings and houses. The router direction is clear and orientation should not pose a problem. On the outskirts of Segundo Corral you will cross the barrancas stream. Although there is no bridge there are always a few trunks to walk across without getting wet. The distance between primer corral and Segundo corral is approximately 12km.
The Ventisquero Valley
A beautiful, sparsely populated valley that extends for more than 30 kilometers from east to west. The valley is accessible from both sides of the Ventisquero River. The route next to Primer Corral has a wooden bridge that crosses over to the correntoso stream. Depending on trail conditions it may be necessary to cross Small River fords. It is highly recommended you hire a local guide to help you explore the valley. Because the glacier is fed by winter snows, there is abundant run off in the spring and summer, which can make crossings difficult. Ventisquero stream's south side trail extends for more than 25 km. from Primer Corral's wooden bridge to the Universo Rive. The higher altitude sections of the Ventisquero Valley are astoundingly beautiful, featuring blue-white glacier. Accompanied by a local guide, you may climb still higher on a variety of small trail. This is an ideal spot for several day of horseback riding.
Llanada Grande - Lake Totoral - Huemul Valley
A lovely hike through a non-populated valley featuring giant Alerce trees in the higher sections. This trek is more than 30 km. long and can be done in one full day or in two days, with a tent. Hiring a guide is recommended to avoid losing time in search of the trail. The recommended route is as follows: Llanada Grande-lake Totoral- Azul lake- Huemul Valley (BE CAREFUL: the IGM map confuses the Huemul and Igor streams). At the outset of the valley there are beautiful views of Azul Lake and in the opposite direction. Alerce valley. You must cross the rive to get to the giant Alerce grove where there is also a large number of Manio, Guiateca Cypresses and Tepa trees. The same trail is used for the return, white the option of exploring the Alerce valley on the to Llanada Grande. Horses are not recommended on this route.
From Lake Verde to Lake Azul
This is a 12 kilometer trail, beginning in Lake Verde with various vista points and many uphill and downhill stretches. One should ask permission as the first part of the road is communal and passes by Esmeralda Lake. Once on the public section towards Llanada Grande, take the trail towards the east and Azul Lake where you can see the peninsula and nautilus island. The one person living there permits camping.
Azul Lake - Lake of the Rocks - Inferior Lake - Segundo Corral
This trail in the three largest lakes of the region. It begins at the southernmost point of Azul lake and goes through the areas oldest forests, full. Of immense trunks in lichen. The vegetation is rich in moss, ferns, lianas, and chilcos. Through the dense forest the lake of the rocks in only visible at certain points. At about km 11 there is a downhill stretch towards the outpost where you can see inferior lake, located almost 100 meters directly below the lake of the rocks. The main route goes from the outpost to the Puelo River where you can cross the river by a hand operated raft (km.15) and then continue on. Segundo corral, a small village with basic infrastructure and a landing field, is located at kilometer 18.
Segundo Corral - Barrancas Valley - Horquetas Valley
It's a relatively easy route that invited a visit and a stay on a typical farm in Horquetas valley. The hospitable settlers offer camping, lodging, and excursions to various peaks with beautiful vistas. Here you will encounter a mix of jabalìs and domestic pigs. The valley's forests are quite damaged due to forest fires. You many also reach the Esperanza border crossing located at only 684 meters above sea level. (THE PASS IS NOT HABILITATED).
Segundo Corral – Police Outpost (Chile) - Los Hitos - Police Outpost (Argentina)
This route exits Chile through the El Bolsòn pass. Begin in Segundo corral on the south shore of the Puelo, cross the river on a raft, and continue on to the north side of lake inferior. Exit stamp your passport a the "Retèn de carabineros" or police outpost. An interesting sign there describes the different fire marks the locals use to identify animals. The trail is rocky with many uphill and downhill stretches that cross various streams. In the rock you may also observe trances and marks the glacial period left behind. The international line is located near an abandoned farm (km 13). From there one can descend to Los Hitos on the shore of the river uniting lakes Puelo and Inferior. The trail here becomes part of Argentina's lago Puelo national park. It is very well marked and offers beautiful views of Lake Puelo. The argentine border police are located at km 19. You may camp, continue on hiking, or cross the lake by boat. This route is not recommended for beginning horseback riders.
Navigating in the Puelo Valley
It is impossible to navigate the whole of the Puelo River due to the rapids. Routes viable for boats include: Lake Tagua Tagua to Santo Domingo, the portòn narrows to primer corral's wooden bridge, Segundo corral to Puelo Lake in Argentina (nevertheless between Lake Inferior and Lake Puelo there are some rapids that can only be crossed in special crafts). In Lake Azul and las Rocas boat service is available. If you would like to hire a boat, it is recommended that you check the various options while still on land. In many areas you may be able to cross the river in towboats belonging to the local settler.