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Puerto Puyuhuapi

From La Junta the unpaved Carretera Austral winds south. Along the R铆o Risopatr贸n waterfalls stream down heavily wooded mountains. Bamboo, nalca and evergreens fringe the side of the highway. After El Pangue tourist complex at Km 240 (hotel, cabins, camping, restaurant), the road narrows as it passes through the Angostura sector of Parque Nacional Queulat, where there are a ranger station and camping ($10) on the shores of Lago Risopatr贸n.


After another 18 kilometers (11 mi), the Carretera Austral reaches Puerto Puyuhuapi (aloso spelled Puyuguapi) on the shores of Fiordo Puyuhuapi. This is the only stretch of the highway that goes along the sea. Decades earlier Puyuhuapi's colonists had built a road to Lago Risopatr贸n. It was later incorporated into the Carretera Austral, routing the thoroughfare through Puyuhuapi instead of Lago Verde as originally planned. Before the highway's completion in 1982, Puerto Puyuhuapi was accessible only by boat or plane. The carretera crosses R铆o Pascua and becomes Avenida Otto Uebel, named for one of the town's founders.


In the Chono language, "Puyuhuapi" means puyu, a sweet flower and huapi, island. The Chono indigenous nation were the first inhabitants of this area. In the early 20th century Pedro Llautureo and his family lived on the north shore until his death. He perished while his wife tried to row him to Puerto Ais茅n for medical attention. Their abandoned cabin is all the new settlers found in the early 1930s. The modern village's story began in the Sudenten German village of Rossbach (today Hranice, Czech Republic). Taking advantage of the Chilean government's offer of land to pioneers, Otto Uebel, Ernesto Ludwig, and Walther and Helmut Hopperdietzel came. Their plans to bring more immigrants were interrupted by World War II. Other family members arrived in 1947.


The Germans set up a cooperative form of village with each settler specializing in a series of tasks. Otto Uebel, a chemical engineer, headed up animal husbandry and farming. Walther Hopperdietzel started the carpet factory and opened the first general store. His brother Helmut was the telegraphist, postman and roadwork expert. Ernesto Ludwig, an agronomist, was in charge of building house and boats, the sawmill and keeping machinery running. Chilotes, or migrants from Chilo茅 island, also were key in the settling of Puyuhuapi. Little has been recorded of these unsung heroes. Many came originally as contract workers.


Puyuhuapi's wealth laid in boat building, but with the introduction of fiberglass crafts, this industry diminished. In the 1980s, its economy became more dependent on fishing. Overexploitation has forced fishermen to go further asea for catches of conger, manta ray and merluza (hake). Salmon farming is now being practiced. Alfombras de Puyuhuapi still makes rugs, renowned for their fine quality. In summer, tours are given of the factory (20 minutes, $10 per group).


The tourism office has a pamphlet (in English and Spanish) that leads you on a walking tour of the town鈥檚 history, architecture and natural beauty. Four German houses remain, all painted golden ochre. The original German cemetery, in an grove of evergreens, is behind Casa Ludwig on the road to Coyhaique. Another distinctive architectural feature is the casas puyuhuapi with gambrel roofs.


In the R铆o Pascua, you can try your hand at fishing. Along the river and the fjord鈥檚 coast Garza Gris (little blue heron, Egretta caerulea), Quetro (flying steamer duck, Tachyeres patachonicus), Cisne de Cuello Negro (black-necked swan, Cignus melancoriphus) and Mart铆n Pescador (ringed kingfisher, Ceryle torquata). With luck, you may see toninas and dolphins leaping out of the fjord鈥檚 waters. At the north end of Calle Mistral begins the Antigua Senda de los Colonos, which used to lead to Lago Risopatr贸n. Two kilometers (1.2 mi) of it is maintained as a hiking trail.


Puyuhuapi is also known for its hot springs at the edge of the sea. The more easily accessible is Termas de Ventisquero, with wood-decked pools and tea room (summer: daily 9 a.m.-11 p.m.  6km/3.6 miles south of town off the Carretera Austral, Tel: 32-5228, E-mail: Entry: adults $24, children $16). Another hot spring, accessible only by boat, is Termas de Puyuhuapi. The other sectors of Parque Nacional Queulat, including its extraordinary ventisquero, or hanging glacier, is 20 kilometers (12 mi) south of Puyuhuapi village.


Every February Puyuhuapi celebrates its history and cultural heritage during Semana Aniversario. Regattas, fishing competitions at sea and on terra firma and diving are some of the activities. A special feature is the Encuentro Multicultural, a meeting of Mapuche-Williche gastronomy and German pastries.




Puyuhuapi has limited services. During the summer only the tourism office dispenses good information (Monday-Saturday 10 a.m.-2 p.m., 4-7 p.m. Avenida Otto Uebel, URL: The carabinero post is also on this same road. Puyuhuapi has no bank or ATM. A贸nikenk may be able to exchange money (Hamburgo 16). The post office and phone office is at Residencial Ventisquero. Several places have Internet, but only one computer each ($2 per hour). The hospital is on O鈥橦iggins, two blocks from the highway.



YR Caba帽as 鈥 boat tours along the coast (Costanera 177, Tel.: 09-874-8586; $20 for up to four persons, one hour)

Hoster铆a Carretera Austral 鈥 boat tours, trips to Parque Nacional Queulat (Avenida Uebel s/n, Tel.: 32-5119, E-mail:



Camping La Sirena has roofed sites (Costanera and Hamburgo, Tel.: 32-5101; $3 per person)

Residencial Ventisquero (O鈥橦iggins, between Avenida Uebel and Portales, Tel.: 32-5130; $10 per person)

Puyuhuapi Lodge and Spa Termal on Bah铆a Dorita, accessible only by launch, is the place to go for an ultimate escape from the rigueur of traveling or city life (Santiago: Fidel Oteiza 1921, oficina 1006, Tel.: 02-225-6489, E-mail:, URL:; from $184 for one or two persons, special packages available).



Along the main avenue are supermarkets. Cociner铆a eateries are cheaper then traditional restaurants. Some hotels also have diners.

A贸nikenk (Hamburgo 16, Tel.: 32-5208 E-mail:, URL:

Cociner铆a Estrella del Sur (Avenida Uebel and Mistral, Tel.: 09-8838-8470)

Restaurant Rossbach (Ays茅n, one block from highway, Tel.: 32-5203)



Alfombras de Puyuhuapi (Monday-Friday 9 a.m.-noon, 3:30-7 p.m., weekends and holidays 10 a.m.-noon. Calle Ays茅n s/n, Tel.: 32-5131, E-mail:

Comit茅 Adulto Mayor 鈥 specializes in woolens (Avenida Uebel, east of Mistral, Tel.: 09-7651-6416)

Artesan铆as Salas 鈥 wood crafts (two blocks north of Avenida Uebel, between the hospital and the church, Tel.: 32-5238).



(Altitude: 5 meters / 16 feet, Population: 505, Phone Code: 067)


Other places nearby Puerto Puyuhuapi: Parque Nacional Queulat, Monumento Nacional Dos Lagunas, Parque Nacional Hornopir茅n, Puerto Ays茅n, Puerto S谩nchez, Villa Cerro Castillo, Puerto R铆o Tranquilo, Coyhaique, Bah铆a Exploradores and Reserva Nacional R铆o Simpson.

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

Things to do in Puerto Puyuhuapi

Termas Puyuhuapi

The boat slices Fiordo Puyuhuapi鈥檚 icy waters, arriving at a luxury spa on the shores of Bah铆a Dorita. You have reached Puyuhuapi Lodge and Spa Termal, more commonly known as Termas de Puyuhuapi. ...
Spa/Hot Springs
Puerto Puyuhuapi, Chile
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