Arrive at Balmaceda Airport on a flight no later than midday. Reception and start the journey going south on the Carretera Austral for 183km. (110 miles) to Puerto Tranquilo town, on the shores of General Carrera Lake. During the journey you will see natural features such as Chiguay Lake, the ‘Piedra del Conde and other rock formations. The road continues by the Portazuelo Ibañez (rocky pass), reaching the “Cuesta del Diablo”, with its steep slopes from where we get magnificent panoramic views of the Ibañez River valley and the peaks that surround it. The route continues to Cerro Castillo village, a typical Patagonian town, which faces the enormous mountainous massif of the same name. The paved road ends. The trip continues south to pass Laguna Verde (Green Lake) and Bosque Muerto (Dead Forest), a reminder of the Hudson volcano’s eruption in 1991. Murta River appears as the first village after a long stretch, and after 30 minutes you reach Puerto Rio Tranquilo, where you have the first closest contact with the wonderful General Carrera Lake. From here you will sail to the Capillas de Mármol (Marble Chapels), rock formations produced by wind and wave erosion. You will enjoy a set lunch menu or box lunch, depending on the time the flight arrives. Overnight at ‘El Puesto Hostel’ or similar, depending on availability.
The Ice trek is an activity that last between 6 to 7 hours and takes place at the Exploradores Glacier, located westward from Puerto Rio Tranquilo and from the General Carrera Lake in the Laguna San Rafael National Park (Route of Parks of Patagonia).
Breakfast. At 9:00am leave for Exploradores Valley, 52km. (31 miles) west of Puerto Tranquilo. Along the way cross the beautiful valley where you can appreciate nature in its natural state, pristine and rugged.
Starting from the Exploradores Valley refuge, there the technical equipment is prepared and specialist guides will give you an induction talk. The walk has to be made with a specialist guide. It begins through an evergreen forest on an interpretive track, where you can identify various native species and see different birds. Little by little the path ascends the frontal moraine of the glacier to reach a viewpoint from which you get a panoramic view looking down on the glacier, Monte San Valentin (Saint Valentine’s Mount, the highest in Patagonia) and Bayo Lake.
Then walk down the moraine and begin to walk on ice covered with stones and sand, to reach clean ice in 1½ to 2 hours according to the fitness of the group. Once there, enjoy a refreshment break and put on the ice equipment, to start walking safely on the white ice where you can see, feel and hear the live ice, look into ice caves, enjoy and marvel at the deep blue of its pure water and learn about how the glacier descends from the ice field and turns into a river, to reach the sea. Box lunch included.
Return to Puerto Tranquilo. Accommodation in ‘El Puesto’ Hostel or similar.
Breakfast. At the agreed time, return to Balmaceda Airport to take your flight to your next destination. Distance 183km. (114 miles), about 4 hours estimated. Box lunch or set menu lunch according to the flight departure time.
Guides: These are trained at the Patagonia School of Guides and are also trained in first aid. They carry first aid kits and there is also a bigger kit at the glacier. During the walk portable radios are carried and there is permanent communication with the Visitors’ Centre, which in turn is connected by HF Radio with Puerto Tranquilo, as a safety precaution.
Level of Difficulty: Low but tiring. Good physical condition is required.
What to take?