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 regionâ€™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 IbĂˇĂ±ez 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 Oâ€™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 Castilloâ€™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 IbĂˇĂ±ez. Travelers with limited time may want to explore the park on horseback.
On the north side of town, Sala MuseogrĂˇfica, exhibits photos and belongings of Cerro Castilloâ€™s settlers (summer hours: Tuesday â€“ Saturday 11 a.m. â€“ 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. â€“ 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 VolcĂˇn Hudsonâ€™s eruptions is twenty-seven kilometers south of town.
Services in Villa Cerro Castillo are very limited. Most businesses in town use the villageâ€™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 Oâ€™Higgins, 50 m (164 ft) from the highway), health post (Calle Los Antiguos) Internet cafĂ© (one computer, $2 per hour) and several phone centers.
Taller La Amistad â€“ woolen hats, jackets and other wear
Jorge Aguilar â€“ wood carving
Eva Llauca â€“ woolen goods
El PatagĂłn / CristiĂˇn Vidal Sandoval (E-mail: patagoniaindomable(at)) â€“ horseback riding, fly fishing, rock climbing, snow excursions yahoo.es
Expediciones Ruta MĂˇs (Carretera Austral 107, E-mail: manuelaguilar1963(at)) â€“ horseback riding, birdwatching, boating hotmail.com
Baquedanos de la Patagonia (Bajada IbĂˇĂ±ez, E-mail: baquedanosdepatagonia(at)) â€“ horseback riding yahoo.es
Cabalgata Aventura (Tel.: 42-9200 / 41-1610, E-mail: albanio_00(at)) 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.
Most places are basic but cozy; many cheap hostels donâ€™t have locks on the doors. In summer locals offer camping space in their yards, but without bathroom facilities.
Hospedaje El Castillo (Oâ€™Higgins 289) â€“ $10 per person, $12 with breakfast
Teu Shenkenk (Oâ€™Higgins 428, E-mail: marsolarave(at)) â€“ $16 per person gmail.com
Hospedaje Andreita (IbĂˇĂ±ez del Campo 297) â€“ room with use of kitchen $8 per person; also has campground with facilities at the end of Oâ€™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)) â€“ $7 per person hotmail.com
There are several shops along the highway and Avenida Oâ€™Higgins.
La Cocina de Sole (in a brightly painted old school bus beside the Carretera Austral) Villarrica (Oâ€™Higgins 574) â€“ also has a hostel ($12 per person, $14 with breakfast)
Puesto Huemul (Carretera Austral, north of Avenida Oâ€™Higgins, Tel.: 09-218-3250, E-Mail: puestohuemul(at)) â€“ fine dining, menu includes liebre (hare) gmail.com
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 Oâ€™Higgins near CafĂ© 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 IbĂˇĂ±ez: Monday, Wednesday, Friday 9 a.m., $5.
Other places nearby Villa Cerro Castillo: Puerto Puyuhuapi, Parque Nacional HornopirĂ©n, Chile Chico , Villa Santa LucĂa , La Junta, Reserva Nacional Coyhaique, Puerto Guadal, Caleta Tortel, Palena and Villa O'Higgins.