The Southern Coast Sights

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Parque Nacional Queulat

Parque Nacional Queulat Review

The rugged 350,000-acre Parque Nacional Queulat begins to rise and roll to either side of the Carretera Austral some 20 km (12 mi) south of the town of Puyuhuapi. Rivers and streams that crisscross dense virgin forests attract fishing aficionados from all over the world. At the higher altitudes, brilliant blue glaciers can be found in the valleys between snowcapped peaks. If you're lucky you'll spot a pudú, one of the diminutive deer that make their home in the forest.

Less than 1 km (½ mi) off the east side of the Carretera Austral you are treated to a close-up view of the hanging glacier, Ventisquero Colgante. This sheet of ice slides forward between a pair of gentle rock faces. Several waterfalls cascade down the cliffs to either side of the glacier's foot. There is an easy 15-minute walk leading to one side of the lake below the glacier, which is not visible from the overlook. Another, longer, hike takes you deeper into the park's interior.

A short drive farther south, where the Carretera Austral makes one of its sharp switchback turns as it climbs higher, a small sign points into the undergrowth, indicating the trailhead for the Salto Padre García. There is no parking area, but you can leave your car on the shoulder. This short hike through dense forest is well worth attempting for a close-up view of this waterfall of striking proportions.

There are three CONAF stations (the national forestry service), and an informative Environmental Information Center at the parking lot for the Ventisquero Colgante overlook and at the southern and northern entrances to the park.

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