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Villa Cerro Castillo

Altitude: 345 m (1132 ft)

Population: approximately 400

Phone Code: 067

Traveling south of Coyhaique on the Carretera Austral, you will pass the turnoffs for the road to Lagos FrĂ­o, Pollux, Castor, and the Centro de EsquĂ­ El Fraile. Salto del RĂ­o Pollux, a 20-meter (66-ft) high waterfall is just past the crossroads. The road for Paso Huemules and Balmaceda, the region’s airport, are further on. At Km 67, Laguna Chiguay is the entry point into Reserva Nacional Cerro Castillo. Keep an eye out for the pink and grey volcanic rock formation Cerro Las Estatuas and Piedra del Conde, shaped like a human profile. It is common to see huemul (South Andean deer). The plunging road to Quebrada del Diablo in the Ibáñez River valley is a tough stretch of the highway for cyclists.  

South of here, Cerro Castillo (2675 m / 8776 ft) scrapes the sky with its many turret-like peaks. At its foot is the small hamlet Villa Cerro Castillo. In a grassy park, a statue of a pioneer with his dog greets visitors. The main street, Avenida O’Higgins, is lined with restaurants and hostels. The main square and a church lie at the end of the avenue. Although officially founded October 29, 1966, Villa Cerro Castillo’s big celebration is at the end of January. The Encuentro Tradiciones Costumbristas honors the food and artisan traditions of the village, with a rodeo, music, dance and asados.  

Most travelers come to Villa Cerro Castillo as part of their trekking adventure into Reserva Nacional Cerro Castillo. A section of Sendero de Chile runs from the village to the park, and another heads to Puerto Ibáñez. Travelers with limited time may want to explore the park on horseback.  

On the north side of town, Sala Museográfica, exhibits photos and belongings of Cerro Castillo’s settlers (summer hours: Tuesday – Saturday 11 a.m. – 7 p.m. 0.5 kilometers (0.3 mi) north, 0.4 kilometers (0.25 mi) west of the highway, poorly signed).  

Approximately four kilometers (2.4 mi) south of Cerro Castillo is the turnoff for Ruta I-1, which leads to the archaeological site ParedĂłn de las Manos, also known as Las Manos del Cerro Castillo (daily 9 a.m. – 9 p.m. Entry: adults $2, seniors $0.80, children free). Beneath a 35-meter (115-ft) rock overhang are negative paintings of hands, as well as a reproduction of a guanaco feeding her young. The site is similar to the Cueva de las Manos near Perito Moreno, Argentina. Scientists believe the site was used for rituals between the 8th and 17th centuries. Before the ParedĂłn is an old two-story schoolhouse that in the future will be a museum. Another pintura rupestre is La Guanaca on Ruta I-4.  

Bosque Muerto, a swath of forest killed by ash fallout from Volcán Hudson’s eruptions is twenty-seven kilometers south of town.    

Services

Services in Villa Cerro Castillo are very limited. Most businesses in town use the village’s public phone as their contact number. There are no money facilities, pharmacy, laundry or post. However, there is a tourism office (open only during the high season, Avenida O’Higgins, 50 m (164 ft) from the highway), health post (Calle Los Antiguos) Internet cafĂ© (one computer, $2 per hour) and several phone centers.  

ArtesanĂ­a

Taller La Amistad – woolen hats, jackets and other wear

Jorge Aguilar – wood carving

Eva Llauca – woolen goods  

Tours

El Patagón / Cristián Vidal Sandoval (E-mail: patagoniaindomable(at)remove-this.yahoo.es) – horseback riding, fly fishing, rock climbing, snow excursions

Expediciones Ruta Más (Carretera Austral 107, E-mail: manuelaguilar1963(at)remove-this.hotmail.com) – horseback riding, birdwatching, boating

Baquedanos de la Patagonia (Bajada Ibáñez, E-mail: baquedanosdepatagonia(at)remove-this.yahoo.es) – horseback riding

Cabalgata Aventura (Tel.: 42-9200 / 41-1610, E-mail: albanio_00(at)remove-this.hotmail.com)

The going rate for horseback riding is $10 per tour; a five-hour tour to local sites or the national reserve costs $30-40.  

Hotels

Most places are basic but cozy; many cheap hostels don’t have locks on the doors. In summer locals offer camping space in their yards, but without bathroom facilities.

Hospedaje El Castillo (O’Higgins 289) – $10 per person, $12 with breakfast

Teu Shenkenk (O’Higgins 428, E-mail: marsolarave(at)remove-this.gmail.com) – $16 per person

Hospedaje Andreita (Ibáñez del Campo 297) – room with use of kitchen $8 per person; also has campground with facilities at the end of O’Higgins; $3 per person

Ten kilometers (6 mi) south of Villa Cerro Castillo on the Carretera Austral is Camping los Ă‘ires, which also has a two-bed room (Tel.: 02-1960-3818, E-mail: rosachacano(at)remove-this.hotmail.com) – $7 per person  

Restaurants

There are several shops along the highway and Avenida O’Higgins.

La Cocina de Sole (in a brightly painted old school bus beside the Carretera Austral) Villarrica (O’Higgins 574) – also has a hostel ($12 per person, $14 with breakfast)

Puesto Huemul (Carretera Austral, north of Avenida O’Higgins, Tel.: 09-218-3250, E-Mail: puestohuemul(at)remove-this.gmail.com) – fine dining, menu includes liebre (hare)

Getting to and away from Villa Cerro Castillo

Villa Cerro Castillo is 95 kilometers (59 mi) south of Coyhaique. North of Cerro Castillo the Carretera Austral is paved; south it is rough gravel. Rain or snow can temporarily close the road at any time of the year. Gasoline is sold by the bottle at Provisiones El Forestero (Los Antiguos 272). There are two mechanics in town.  

During the low season, bus service is less frequent. All stop along Avenida O’Higgins near Café Restaurant La Querencia.

To Cochrane and points between: daily about 11 a.m., $17 to Cochrane, $11 to RĂ­o Tranquilo.

To Coyhaique: daily 2 p.m. and later, $7-8.

To Puerto Ibáñez: Monday, Wednesday, Friday 9 a.m., $5.

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Other places nearby Villa Cerro Castillo: Coyhaique, Reserva Nacional Futaleufú, Puerto Bertrand, Palena, Cochrane, Chaitén, Villa O'Higgins, Hornopirén Village, Reserva Nacional Jeínemeni and Puerto Puyuhuapi.







07 Jul 2009

Things to do in Villa Cerro Castillo

Reserva Nacional Cerro Castillo

133553Reserva Nacional (RN) Cerro Castillo is said to be the next Torres del Paine. Although Conaf and the surrounding communities are measuredly moving towards this realization, savvy travelers have ...
National Park
Villa Cerro Castillo, Chile
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