One of the main attractions of Northern Patagonia is Pumalin Park; a private initiative to protect 42.000 acres of evergreen temperate rainforest.
The park is divided into a north and south section; the first is accessible via Hornopirén (which can be reached by vehicle or bus), but from here there is no infrastructure and access to the region's trademark fjords and the Cahuelmó hot springs is by rented boat or tour only.
The southern section is where travelers will find Caleta Gonzalo and the main information center, with lodging, campsites, park information, and a store selling locally produced crafts. Caleta Gonzalo is reached by ferry from Hornopirén in January and February, and by Chaitén year-round. This is where visitors can explore a rainforest bursting with life via one of the several trails in the area.
Pumalín makes for an excellent introduction to the Carretera Austral; however, outside of the summer months, torrential downpours can go on for days, even in the middle of summer. Most visitors spend only a day or 2 here, unless they are part of an organized boat/kayak tour.
The Pumalín Project is open to the public all year round but the peak months are January and February. March to September can be spectacular but rainy. We recommend that you bring good rain gear and rubber boots.
In the early morning we will depart from the hotel and take a 3½ hour drive south on the Carretera Austral (southern highway) to the village of Hornopiren. A boat awaits us there to take us to Cahuelmó Hot Springs. This is the northern entrance of Pumalin Park.
After having lunch we will navigate our way toward these beautiful thermal baths, composed of rustic tubs that had been carved into the rocks years ago by local people. Each varies in size but all have very hot water, simply regulated for an extremely pleasant bathing experience. You’ll enjoy it under a clear night sky with candles. Overnight in tents close by ( BL, D).