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Puerto Río Tranquilo



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


Puerto Río Tranquilo on the west shore of Lago General Carrera has become a popular stop on the Carretera Austral circuit. The big draw is its Santurario de la Naturaleza Capilla de Mármol. This natural sanctuary of marble outcroppings worn by the lake’s waves features cuevas (caves) and two natural rock formations, the capilla (chapel) and the catedral (cathedral). Condors fly from the cliffs. Tour boats slice the turquoise waters to these wonders ($10 per person / $50 per boat, 1.5 hours). Afternoon winds can roughen the lake.


Río Tranquilo, however, offers more to the visitor. One block west of the Carretera Austral is the town plaza, which has a grassy knoll in its center. On one corner is the small wooden church with stylistic elements typical of Chiloé Island. In summer, a Sala Museográfica is open (Godoy 162). Another place where you see a preponderance of Chilote architecture is the old cemetery on the south edge of town. Here the headstones are miniature houses whose “residents” have a beautiful view of the lake. Along the beach is a park, a pleasant place to sit and read, or just watch the sun’s light upon Lago General Carrera. Fishing in the region is good.


At the bridge on the north side of Río Tranquilo is the new road being built to Bahía Exploradores. This Camino a Exploradores gives access to Lagos Tranquilo and Bayo and Glaciares Exploradores and Grosse, a good place to do ice trekking. Further north, at Km 207 (Puente El Belga) is Bosque Arrayanes, or Bosque Encantado, an enchanting, ancient arrayán (Myrceugenella apiculata) forest teeming with flora and fauna.


Southwest of Puerto Río Tranquilo is Valle Leones, leading to Lago Leones and a glacier of the same name. If you walk south along the Carretera Austral, you will see part of the glacier. To explore this valley, though, you need to go on tour. You can drive only so far then have to trek or horseback ride in. South on the Carretera Austral is a huge swatch of burned woodlands, caused by a forest fire at the beginning of the present century. Along here, too, are great views of Monte San Valentín (4058 m / 13,314 ft), the highest mountain in the Campo de Hielo Norte.


Puerto Río Tranquilo is named for the river at whose mouth it is. On earlier maps it is called Puerto Sereno. According to some legends, though, the first settler to come here in 1929, Pedro Lagos, called it Río Tranquilo. Soon after the Lagos family’s arrival, others became coming to set up their homes. During the 1950s the town experienced great growth. In 1955 the village was officially established. At that time, the Belgas family built a wharf, of which now remain only a few leggings on the beach. The Carretera Austral reached the town in 1987. Río Tranquilo celebrates its anniversary the third week of February.


Other places nearby Puerto Río Tranquilo: Puerto Cisnes, Villa Cerro Castillo, Futaleufú, Hornopirén Village, Cochrane, Parque Nacional Laguna San Rafael , Puerto Sánchez, Chaitén, La Junta and Villa O'Higgins.

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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