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Getting to and Away from Chaitén

Ruta 7 leads into Chaitén from the south. The last 31 kilometers are paved. You might see ash drifts at the roadside. Carabineros at El Amarillo checkpoint record all visitors entering and leaving the city by highway. Day visitors may come to snap photos, but overnight access is prohibited.

By Boat

The seafront road to the port has been partially destroyed. Vehicles should take Diego Portales north to the dock. Naviera Austral has an office on Avenida Concorvado, near Calle Pedro Aguirre Cerda (8 a.m. – 9:15 a.m., 10 a.m. – 1 p.m., 3 – 6 p.m.). Tickets must be purchased at the office. The ferries can transport cars, motorcycles and other vehicles, as well as passengers. For complete fares and updated schedules, see Naviera Austral’s website:

To Puerto Montt: (direct) Monday 10 a.m., Friday 2 p.m.; (via Ayacara) Wednesday 9 p.m., $41.

To Quellón, Isla Chiloé: Tuesday 10 a.m., $37. The Quellón ferry makes connections with the Ruta Cordillera boat, which goes to Melinka, Puerto Cisnes and Chacabuco along the Carretera Austral south of Chaitén. A stretch of the Carretera Austral between Hornopirén and Chaitén was destroyed. The ferry now departs from Hornopirén, stopping at Ayacara, before docking at Chaitén. This ferry only operates in January and February (southward: Monday, Wednesday, Saturday 9 a.m.; northward Wednesday, Friday, Sunday 10 a.m., $30).

By Bus

The Chaitén bus schedule is very uncertain. If you ask about departures, the answer is always “When there are boats.” Usually, there is at least one bus to Palena, Futaleufú and/or Coyhaique Monday, Tuesday and Friday at 10 a.m. If there are no buses going to your destination, try your luck in Villa Santa Lucía. A common alternative for foreign tourists is to hitchhike (an alternative that V!va does not endorse). Hiring a driver costs $80 – 100 (negotiable) to Futaleufú or Palena.

By Lorraine Caputo

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

22 Jan 2010

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