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Villa Santa Lucía

Villa Santa Lucía is one of the larger settlements between the coast and the Argentine border. Strategically located between Chaitén (81 kilometers / 49 miles west), Futaleufú (77 kilometers / 46 miles east) and Palena (72 kilometers / 43 miles east), Santa Lucía is the crossroads of the Carretera Austral. Especially bikers and hitchhikers may find their day’s journey ending here. Since the eruption of Volcán Chaitén, the population has doubled with evacuees.


The immediate focal point of the village is the southern highway. A long row of buildings line Calle Los Cerrillos, the street parallel to the Carretera Austral. Near the northern end is a general store where it seems everyone stops to cool off or get directions. Further down this road is the simple village church of Chiloé style. One block east is the main square, a large grassy expanse with a playground and a simple wood carving dedicated to the pioneers who settled here. On the east side of the park is a large military base.


A day trip to relax from the road could be done to nearby Lago Yelcho, where fishing and boating are the major sports. Approximately 50 kilometers (30 miles) toward Chaitén is the turn-off for Termas El Amarillo.


Services are limited in Villa Santa Lucía. No tourism office, bank, exchange house or post office is here. A two-computer internet café and phone center is located a half-block north of the plaza (Monday-Saturday 9 a.m.-1 p.m., 3-9 p.m. Los Coigües. $1.20 per hour). Salón de Té Nachito advertises tours to Lago Yelcho and other destinations (Los Avellanos and Los Cípreses).


A few new hostels are opening to fill the gap left buy the abandonment of the port city Chaitén. The only official hotel is the two-story silver building facing the Carretera Austral (Los Cerrillos s/n; $8 per person; unfriendly). Ask around for other lodging options; costs average $8-10 per person. Try the log house on the plaza advertising cabañas (Los Coigües and Los Sauces), Salón de Té Nachito and doña Yohanna (Los Cípreses, across from the church). Minimarket Claudita allows camping in its backyard, though there is no bathroom (Los Cípresses and Los Sauces; $2 per person). Otherwise, campers pitch their tents in the field alongside the Carretera Austral.


The only real restaurant in town is Salón de Té Nachito ($6 per meal). Also ask around to see if anyone is preparing food. Several general stores can supply self-caterers. Two houses sell bread; look for the Pan sign outside the house at the very south end of Los Cerrillos and outside another home at the south end of Los Coigües.



(Altitude: 614 meters / 2017 feet, Population: 270, Phone Code: 065)



Other places nearby Villa Santa Lucía : Caleta Tortel, Puerto Cisnes, La Junta, Palena, Coyhaique, Puerto Ibáñez, Puerto Guadal, Chaitén, Reserva Nacional Coyhaique and Bahía Exploradores.

By Lorraine Caputo

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

23 Jan 2009

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