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Bahía Murta

Many travelers on the Carretera Austral miss Bahía Murta. But this little village on Lago General Carrera at the mouth of the Río Murta has a surprising number of hidden treasures, from abundant sport fishing and trekking to shrines and hot springs.

The first group of colonists arrived in this area 1928. The original village was founded near the mouth of the Río Engaño in 1955, but in the 1970s it had to be moved to its present location on the east side of the inlet. Parts of the old town still exist, like the old schoolhouse and the Santuario de Santa Rosa, where every August 30, a pilgrimage and mass celebrate the feast day of Saint Rosa (about 3.5 kilometers / 2.2 miles south of Cruce Murta). Also before the Río Engaño bridge is a track heading west to Termas El Engaño, natural hot spring pools about seven kilometers (4.2 miles) from the highway (inquire with Tomasa Olivares, who lives at Pasaje 10 de Julio 264, Bahía Murta; entry: $20). Also accessible from this point is Glacier Engaño.

A four-kilometer (2.4-mile) road runs from Cruce Murta to the new village. As it enters town, this road becomes the main street, 5 de Abril. These north-south streets are named for historic dates, and the east-west streets are named after countries. Between España and Chile is the wooded plaza with streams flowing through. On one corner is the plain church. At the end of 5 de Abril is a rocky outcrop with great views of the blue-green lake and snowy mountains. Just 100 meters (328 feet) south of Cruce Murta is Museo de Antigüidades, the local museum, at Residencial Patagonia on the highway. It is open only in summer.

Bahía Murta has a tradition of cattle raising, which is celebrated with El Gran Rodeo Oficial the second week of January. The second week of February is the town’s anniversary celebration. The town is noted for its artisan work in wool dyed with roots and herbs, and in leather.

 

Services

 

Most businesses in town, such as hotels and tour operators, use the village’s public phone (41-9600) as their contact number. Most basic services exist: tourism information (open only in summer. Calle 5 de Abril s/n), post office (18 de Septiembre 412), posta de salud (5 de Abril 525), carabineros, public telephone and internet (5 de Abril 297, $2.50 per hour, slow). For information at other times of the year, check www.rioibanez.cl.

 

Artesanía

 

Taller Las Araucarias – leatherwork

Patricia Alarcón – woolen goods

 

Tours

 

Jacqueline Castillo Barrientos (Tel.: 41-9600, E-mail: jcastillobarrientos(at)remove-this.yahoo.es) – horseback riding, fly fishing.

 

Hotels

 

Residencial Patagonia (Cruce Murta, Km 190, Carretera Austral, Tel.: 41-9600) – $10 per person; also has a restaurant.

Hospedaje La Bahía (5 de Abril 653) – $8 per person.

Hostería Lago General Carrera (5 de Abril 314, Tel.: 41-9600) – $8 per person.

Free camping is allowed on the lake shore, at the end of 5 de Abril. It has windbreaks, but no bathroom facilities.

 

Restaurants

 

Asados al palo (shishkabob) is a specialty here. The town is a good place to stock up, as it has many grocery stores. Some hotels also have restaurants.

Restaurant Lago General Carrera (5 de Abril 314) Restaurant El Record (5 deAbril 297)

 

(Altitude: 784 m / 2572 ft, Population: 586, Phone Code: 067)

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Other places nearby Bahía Murta: Coyhaique, Puerto Cisnes, Puerto Puyuhuapi, Villa O'Higgins, Chaitén, Puerto Ibáñez, Villa Cerro Castillo, Reserva Nacional Jeínemeni, Puerto Chacabuco and Monumento Nacional Dos Lagunas.







By Lorraine Caputo

Upon re-declaring her independence at age 29, Lorraine Caputo packed her trusty Rocinante (so her knapsack's called) and began...

08 Jul 2009

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