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Getting to and away from Caleta Tortel

The turn-off from Carretera Austral is 128 kilometers (79.5 mi) south of Cochrane. From there a road squeezed between Río Baker and sheer rock cliffs wends 22 kilometers (13.7 mi) to Caleta Tortel and ends at a parking lot.

A portal marks the entry into the vast boardwalk network of Caleta Tortel. When it rains, the boardwalk is slick. There are a lot of steps, which can be problematic for people with bad knees, ankles or other walking problems. Take this all into consideration when choosing where to stay, or take a water taxi. From Rincón to Centro (Base) the cost is $5, from Rincón to Playa Ancha $10.

During the low season, bus service is less frequent. Rains or snows can temporary close the road at any time of the year. All buses leave from the parking lot.

To Cochrane: Buses Aldea (Tuesday, Thursday, Saturday 2:30 p.m., Friday 3:30 p.m., $12, 4.5 hours). To Vagabundo (crossroads with the Carretera Austral): $3.

To Coyhaique: Don Manuel Thursday, Sunday, $38, 10 hours.

There is no service from Villa O’Higgins to Caleta Tortel, and the Villa-O’Higgins – Cochrane bus does not meet the Cochrane – Caleta Tortel one.

If coming from the south, you’ll have to walk the 22 kilometers to Tortel. Hitchhiking is difficult, as the bus arrives at 3 p.m. To get from Caleta Tortel to Villa O'Higgins, you might be able to make the connection with the Cochrane-Villa O'Higgins bus south, though it will be tight. A bus plies the Caleta Tortel-Puerto Yungay-Lago Quetro route (Thursday 8:30 a.m. $4, same day return, passing by Puerto Yungay at 8 p.m.).


The tourism office and municipality provide a list of boat service providers for local excursions. Also ask at the municipalidad about the regular local service to Puerto Edén (in summer: weekly).

By Lorraine Caputo

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

10 Jul 2009

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