Queulat National Park
Created in 1983, the Queulat National Park is located in a region basically untouched by man until the recent construction of the Carretera Austral. As a consequence, the nature is still pristine and remarkably wild in this region, and its remote location allows visitors to enjoy nature in a rare state of conservation.
The Queulat National Park is famous for its Ventisquero Colgante (English: Hanging Glacier), a glacier literally hanging above a cliff. The water melting from the glacier creates two towering waterfalls, dropping on top of more ice in the moraine underneath. Ice is constantly falling and crashing from the top of the glacier to the bottom of the moraine, creating an impressive background rumbling noise in the valley.
The camp facilities themselves are located in the ancient moraine of the glacier. The river created by the melting ice flows from the beautiful Laguna Tempanos (English: Lake Tempanos), milky white due to its being fed by glacier water.
Flora and fauna
Beech trees abound, as well as native Patagonian trees. A lot of birds are also unafraid of humans and can get very close to you. Foxes and pumas are sometimes sighted.
It rains a lot in the park. It is advisable to check the weather conditions (for exemple by looking at the forecast for the nearby village of Puyuhuapi on YR) in order to go on a clear, sunny day, lest the glacier be invisible behind clouds or rain.
All the buses coming through the Carretera Austral can drop you off at the entrance for the Ventisquero Colgante, about 70 km south of La Junta, or 20 km south of Puyuhuapi. You could also come from Chaitén, farther north, or Coyhaique in the south. From the turnoff, you will still have to travel 2 km to the camp.
If coming by car or bike, be aware that this part of the Carretera is gravel road, currently in the process of being paved (Nov 2017).
Entrance fee of 5,000 CLP pp for foreign visitors as of Nov 2017. Camping is another 5,000 CLP.
The entire area is walkable.
There are only a few hiking trails in the Ventisquero Colgante section of the park, all doable within the same day. The Centro de Información Ambiental (English: Environmental information center), a small building at the end of the road going through the camp, holds a few explicative panels about the history and ecology of the park, albeit only in Spanish.
Times in the following trail descriptions are for return trips.
A large quincho (covered BBQ place) is available to use for large groups. Fire is no longer allowed in the campground, only stoves can be used for cooking.
There are 10 camp sites, very well equipped, with covered picnic table and BBQs, water taps, as well as clean common toilets with hot water showers. However, the ground can be a bit rocky and hard to plant stakes in, but nothing insurmountable. 6,000 CLP per site per night, maximum 6 persons per site (Oct 2014).
Local rangers advise not to turn your back from a puma, in the slim chance that you should encounter one. Back up slowly, while still facing it. In order to scare it away, you should make yourself appear bigger than you are by putting your arms up, and make noise. Or just get away to safety.
Go back on the Carretera Austral to hitch a ride or wait for the next bus.