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Puerto Guadal



(Altitude: 215 m / 705 ft, Population: 500, Phone Code: 067)


In the 1930s a protected bay on the extreme southwest edge of Lago General Carrera came to be a port for cattle and wool shipping. Spontaneously grew a village that came to be known as Puerto Guadal. During the 1960s, a French mining company, Empresa Minera del Plomo, opened mines in the lead, zinc and copper-rich mountains. The company pulled out in 1986, but interest in the ores again grew at turn of this recent century. Puerto Guadal began preparing for the influx of workers and their families, by building a larger school and other public works. But the mining project was dropped. This village as well used to be a big destination for Argentine tourists, but since that country’s economic crisis, the number of visitors has dramatically decreased. Between those two events, the village has a somewhat forlorn look to it.


From Ruta Ch-265, Calle Los Olmos heads into Puerto Guadal. The avenue is lined with small shops and one-story houses with flower gardens. A few blocks away is the Plaza de Armas. On one corner is a small stucco church. From the plaza, Los Guindos goes towards the lake, then crosses over Eserto El Sapo and follows the shore. Along the way are abstract wooden sculptures planted into high grass. This dirt path passes the old pier and climbs a hill to a lighthouse and mirador with fine views of Lago Genreral Carrera and the snowy mountains around. On the other side of this inlet is a jut of land with the town’s cemetery. On that rocky point is a park with benches, inviting visitors to relax and meditate the lakescape. Beyond this mini-peninsula is another inlet with a beautiful agate beach. In summer, this is a favorite place to swim in the tepid lake waters.


Puerto Guadal, nicknamed La Perla del Lago, hasn’t quite made it onto the foreign tourists’ itinerary, which is quite surprising considering the wide variety of attractions here. Two kilometers (1.2 mi) away is Mina Escondida, the mine the French abandoned in 1986. You can still see the installations and machinery left behind. To the east of town five kilometers (3 mi), tumbling through a forest of coigüe (Nothofagus dombeyi) and ñirre (Antarctic beech, Nothofagus antarctica), is Cascada Los Maquis, a stepped waterfall with the highest being 25 meters (82 ft). Local guides offer seven-hour horseback expeditions to the tremendous marine fossil field eight kilometers (4.8 mi) to the south. Puerto Guadal is also convenient for trekking or horseback excursions to Valle Río Leones and the glaciers of Campo de Hielo Norte. Anglers, get your rods out – trout, salmon and smelt (pejerrey) fishing are good here. The second week of February is Aniversario de Puerto Guadal, a week-long salute to Guadal traditions, with horse racing, games and typical foods.


Other places nearby Puerto Guadal: Reserva Nacional Jeínemeni, Puerto Río Tranquilo, Monumento Nacional Dos Lagunas, Puerto Cisnes, Palena, Villa O'Higgins, Reserva Nacional Futaleufú, Parque Nacional Hornopirén, Reserva Nacional Coyhaique and Villa Santa Lucía .

By Lorraine Caputo

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

07 Jul 2009

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