Puerto Aysén: 68km (42 miles) W of Coyhaique

Puerto Aysén was a vigorous port town until the 1960s, when silt filled the harbor and ships were forced to move 16km (10 miles) away to Puerto Chacabuco. While it's in the midst of gorgeous landscape, it offers few attractions to the visitor. The same could be said for Puerto Chacabuco; however, the majority of visitors to this region pass through here at some point to catch a ship or ferry to Laguna San Rafael Glacier or to Puerto Montt. Most travelers arriving by ferry from Puerto Montt head straight to Coyhaique, and vice versa, but the full-day ferry ride to Laguna San Rafael leaves early and returns late, so many travelers find it convenient to spend a night here in Puerto Chacabuco.

It's recommended that you at least take a day trip to Puerto Aysén and Puerto Chacabuco, more than anything for the beautiful drive through the Reserva Nacional Río Simpson and the equally beautiful view of Aysén Sound at the journey's end. That said, both towns are a little scrappy, but the Hotel Loberías del Sur is a good spot for lunch before heading back to Coyhaique. If you don't have your own transportation, you can try Buses Suray, Eusebio Ibar 630 (tel. 67/336222), which connects in Puerto Aysén for Coyhaique. The best bet is to call Patagonia Austral, Condell 149, no. 2 (tel./fax 67/239696; ventas@australpatagonia.cl), which offers day trips around this area, especially bird-watching tours. The tours operate from November 15 to March 15 only, but the agency will arrange trips any time of the year for small groups. Turismo Rucaray, in Puerto Aysén, at Teniente Merino 840 (tel. 67/332862; fax 67/332725; rucaray@entelchile.net), offers other excursions around the area and sells ferry tickets.