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South America : Chile : Cochamó
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Cochamó Valley is known as the Yosemite of Chile, a term and comparison first coined by Seattle Times reporter Bill Dietrich, who wrote about his horseback trek and visit in 1997. See [1]



The valley takes its name from the Cochamó River, which is fed by too-many-to-count streams and waterfalls that plunge down densely forested slopes and granite walls, many of which are 1000 meters high.


A pleasant season to visit the area is from October through April, although September and May can often be pleasantly clear and crisp, too. The months that usually have the best weather are December through March. Between May and August, the climate is generally cold and very rainy (90% of the area's rain falls in these southern-hemisphere winter months.)

The weather in Patagonia is difficult to predict, but locals have followed one general rule that helps forecast stormy weather. Clouds moving north to south generally bring rain.

Get in[edit]

There are usually three buses a day from Puerto Montt via Puerto Varas and Ensenada to the village of Cochamó (2000CLP from P.Montt and P.Varas). The closest stop to access the Cochamó Valley and trail is to get off approximately five kilometers after the village, at the bridge that crosses the Rio Cochamó. Or get off in town and hire a vehicle to take you direct to the trailhead (costs about US$10 per ride up to five passengers). From there, it's usually a muddy but well marked 5-hour hike into Cochamó Valley, and into La Junta area. There are a few signs marking the trail indicating directions to the campground. For hikers seeking accommodations either at the Refugio Cochamó or Mountainside Lodge, it's necessary to cross the Cochamó River in La Junta area via hand-operated 'cable car'. If you are riding, in the summer months it is generally easy to cross the Rio Cochamó on horseback.

Get around[edit]

Many visitors choose to visit the valley by horse or using packhorses. All horses are (or should be) accompanied by guides. Cochamó offers numerous different guides but tracking them down is not a formal task. Ask around town and expect to pay from $18.000 to $25.000 pesos per horse and be sure to find out if the guide charges for the horse he/she uses. If starting the ride from the village of Cochamo, expect to ride for at least 5-6 hours, with a local resident who only speaks Spanish (and to carry your own food.) If riding on a program with Campo Aventura, the ride is an hour shorter; there is often an international guide; and meals and refreshments are provided along the way and upon arrival in the upper valley.

  • Many visitors have had continuous problems with one guide in paticular (website: located in front of the police station in town. Avoid him at all costs. There are many other guides. Just ask around.

The oldest and best-established provider of guided horseback treks is Campo Aventura, known for its comfortable lodges, delicious food, and commitment to the community. They also offer all-inclusive hiking/trekking programs throughout the valley, and up to the border with Argentina.

See[edit][add listing]

Huge granite walls, waterfalls, rivers, granite arches, Alerce forests, caves, pools - basically one of Patagonia´s most unique and amazing mountain valleys.

Do[edit][add listing]

This is a famous rock climbing destination with many granite walls and domes ranging around 1000 meters. There are many new routes every year and thousands of new long lines waiting to be done. Multi-day horseback trekking and hiking are very popular among international visitors.

In addition to rock-climbing, the Cochamo and La Junta valleys offer visitors a rich feast of nature - crystal-clear pools and streams; towering ancient trees; scattered, occasional encounters with traditional mountain homesteaders; and dozens of hikes - ranging from easy to moderate to challenging.

Relatively unknown until recently, the valley receives more and more hikers and climbers each year, which brings its own set of challenges - ill-prepared or ill-equipped visitors; littering and trash; unauthorised camping and fires. Whether the growing number of local and international visitors will respect the fragile environment and local inhabitants and their property, and do what they can to keep this "Yosemite of Chile" clean and unspoiled, remains to be seen.

  • Trekking Most visitors come to Cochamo to trek the four to six hours into La Junta, the heart of Valle Cochamo. From there, many day hikes reach spectacular peaks, waterfalls and 3000-year-old alerce trees. The main trail continues all the way to Argentina passing a rock arch, lakes and mountain passes. Checkout the trail info at and ideas for fully guided and supported programs at [[2]]
  • Horseback trails The gauchos have been traversing the valley on horseback for centuries - and, as you slog through the well-worn, muddy trails, you can understand why this option can often be more enjoyable than going on foot. Do your research well to make sure you embark on these trips with a reputable guide and outfit. The horsback treks and supported hiking programs provided by Southern Trips and campo aventura are probably among the most reliable and enjoyable, with experienced guides, safety gear, and radio contact.
  • Climbing With in the valley, granite walls rise more than 1,000 meters, holding some of the countries most classic free climbing routes. Sport climbing and cragging exist throughout the valley's basen, including the overhanging Pared Seca which stays dry when it rains. Chekout the route info at Checkout the trail info at and at

  • Natural waterslide. La Junta River offers an amazing natural waterslide. Photos on [3] Checkout videos on
  • Nature Trail. On the south/east bank of the Rio Cochamo, there is a well-marked Nature Trail, maintained by Campo Aventura, pointing out the local trees, and going past two beautiful waterfalls. More information on this trail, along with a booklet, is available. [[4]]
  • Arco Iris. The 'arc of the rainbow' is one of the more popular trails. It is a vigourous hike, with a small section requiring ropes - and the reward is well worth it. Stunning, 360-degree views of a lush valley and imposing peaks.
  • El Arco The 'arch" is a destinal approximately 10 - 15 kms up river from the La Junta basin and valley. It gets it's name from a lone Alerce tree growing atop a natural rock archway, through which a waterfall courses. In the higher reaches of El Arco are hundreds of millenary Alerces, the second-longest living tree in the world, renowned for its ability to remain strong and usable in home-building, boat-building and other uses for decades, even in an intensely wet and cold climate.
  • The Cochamo-Puelo circle route - more commonly referred to as the Gaucho Trail (after Campo Aventura's in-house 10-day program) or 'la vuelta larga.' This is an unforgettable journey - in the words of a Chicago Tribune artiles, it is " a chance not just to see mountain scenery far removed from the well-trampled tourist track and romp through a bit of history but also to ride back to an earlier age, a time of hand-hewn log cabins and crystal streams and partnership with a horse to whom you trust your life." For more information on this trail and the riding and hiking possibilities, refer to [5] or Southern Trips

Get out[edit]

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