Coyhaique is a beautiful city in the Aysen region, in the central-southern part of Chile. For many it is the true epicenter of the Chilean Patagonía. However, the rigors of the climate are not as severe as in the southernmost area and nature is more varied and dynamic in this part of the country.
This city is a destination visited, above all, by the most curious travelers. It is not a strictly speaking tourist spot, although it has everything to be. This is because access is not that simple and has not been promoted enough.
Coyhaique is in the middle of the Carretera Austral. This is an advantage, but also a limitation. Advantage because from there you can travel that famous way in a fluid way. But it limits because sometimes the rigors of the weather cause that path to close, so the place is virtually isolated.Austral road
Getting to Coyhaique is not that easy. The easiest way to do this is by air. There are flights departing from Santiago de Chile or from Puerto Montt towards Balmaceda. From there you must take a land transport to reach Coyhaique, which is 55 kilometers from the airport. There is bus and private transfer for it.
Land route is reached by the Road Longitudinal Austral. This goes from Puerto Montt to Coyhaique, passing through some dream places. From Argentina you can also go by land, through three border crossings: the Coyhaique Pass, the Triana Pass and the Huemules Pass.
The Coyhaique Pass It is 46 kilometers from the city, along a gravel road and communicates with the population of Aldea Baleiro in Argentina. The Triana pass is 37 kilometers away, but it is quite cold in winter. For its part, the Huemules pass crosses Balmaceda and is about 150 kilometers from the city.Landscape of Coyhaique - Mariano Mantel / Flickr.com
Coyhaique has a cold climate. During the summer months, the maximum temperature is around 17 ° C. In winter, it is usual for the thermometer to be a few degrees below zero. There is a lot of rain throughout the year, being May and August the wettest months. Meanwhile, in July and August it usually snows.
The city is located in a beautiful valley. More than 50% of the province of Aysen corresponds to a protected nature. The place is quiet and bucolic and is surrounded by the Simpson and Coyhaique rivers. Many areas are almost virgin, also framed by the fabulous fjords that are in the northwest area.Marble Chapels
One of the great tourist attractions in the area are the famous Marble Chapels. They are in the small town of Puerto Tranquilo, about four hours from Coyhaique. They are mineral formations that offer a unique show in the world. It can be reached by bus, by car or by hiring a tour.
These formations are found in General Carrera Lake. It is the largest lake in Chile and the second largest in South America. It has 900 km² and is located in the center of the Carretera Austral. It offers a very varied nature, to the point that every two kilometers the landscape seems to change.
As well near Coyhaique is the San Rafael glacier. It is located in the Northern Ice Field and has nothing to envy the famous Perito Moreno in Argentina. Visiting it is an adventure.
To reach the San Rafael glacier, you will leave Puerto Aysén, which is 45 minutes from Coyhaique. From there you take a catamaran and take the tour. An unforgettable ride.
The city of Coyhaique itself is a spectacle. It has a beautiful central square with an octagonal fountain and a typical church in the area. There is also a permanent craft fair and the people are wonderful. At first they are a bit reserved, but then you fall in love with their kindness and their willingness.
There is also the Shepherd Monument. It was done by maestro Germán Montero and he says everything about this part of Chile. Near the city are the Piedra del Indio, the Queulat National Park and the Hanging Snowdrift. All three are places more than worth a visit.