“Oh, how pretty, how pretty, my land, nestled beside the lake and the
mountains. I am a pioneer and I live content, I am from Murta, simple and sincere”.
This translation of the first few lines of popular folklorist, Señora Águeda del Carmen Pradines’s original song, provides your first clues about what to expect when you visit the quaint village of Bahía Murta. The natural setting around Murta is filled with spectacular forests, meadows, mountains and rivers, and the sandy beaches and turquoise waters of General Carrera Lake’s border the southern end of town. The mighty Hudson Volcano lies a morning’s flight away for a condor (65 Km), which means Bahía Murtinos remember, all too clearly, the fury produced when this sleeping giant decides to wake up.
The atmosphere is laid back; its people simple and sincere; what you see is what you get. BUT, the people of Bahía Murta haven’t always been so relaxed and at peace with their setting. For many decades, they lived at odds with the rivers and volcanoes that surround their peaceful village. To maintain their dreams of living a peaceful and simple life, they developed a collective spirit of courage and determination, with which they learned how to survive and live content, along the shores of such a powerful lake, and it has rewarded them with their natural environment.
Bahía Murta is located 4 km off the Carretera Austral, along Route X-731.
Start your visit at the Hospedaje Patagonia, located along the Carretera Austral 500 m from the crossing with Route X-731. In addition to a good night’s rest and home-cooked meals, you can tour the Lucio González Museum. Owner, Señora Clotilde Yáñez is the daughter of some of Murta’s first settlers and has a passion for local history. Her museum has a great collection of historic artifacts and typical tools and household items of the pioneer era. The Hospedaje Patagonia is also a strategic site for learning about the two Bahía Murtas, as it is located in between Murta Antigua and Murta Nueva and Señora Clotilde can provide a firsthand account. You’ll also want to ask her to share the story of Murta’s name, which involves the “miss-identification” of local flora.
The first settlers arrived in this sector in the early years of the twentieth century and built their initial town, Murta Antigua, between the Engaño and Murta Rivers, only to be humbled by the indomitable nature of these lands. After falling victim to various floods of the Engaño River, the inhabitants of the Murta Antiguo realized that they had positioned their town to live in constant threat of natural disaster. They gathered their forces and their collective strength and began to look for solutions. During the decades of the ‘60s and ‘70s, they began to transfer everything to a new site, chosen for its good grazing pastures, protected setting, and proximity to the lake.
And they had reason to be cautious!
Not too long after, in March of 1978, the prophecy was fulfilled; Patagonia’s indomitable climate showed its head, with a gigantic avalanche, and flood of the Engaño River that passed through the original town, destroying practically all that remained. We recommend you pay a visit to Murta Antiguo to see its miraculous survivors; the ancient cemetery sits high atop the hill and if you enter the small road leading toward the remains of the town, you’ll find a beautiful church made of characteristic tejuelas, a type of hand-hewn wooden shingle for which, Bahía Murta is famous. The church dates back to the ‘50s, is well preserved and still in use; each August 30, this is the site for the popular Santa Rosa de Lima
Bahía Murta (New Murta) is home to around 300 inhabitants and located only four kilometers from Hospedaje Patagonia, heading along Route X-731. When you reach town, look for the plaza and then head up the hill a few hundred meters to a great overlook that will provide you with the complete perspective; you’ll be able to distinguish the two Murtas and have a panoramic view of the lake and the mouths of the Engaño, Murta and Resbalón Rivers. The overlook is located after the second curve in the first meters of the climb of the road to Puerto Sánchez.
What is there to do in Bahía Murta?
Señora Águeda del Carmen (Carmencita) explains it well in her song: “In the south of Aysén, is the village of Murta, resting now, on the shores of General Carrera Lake. The Engaño River, covered it with water, for which we paid twice times. In Murta Antiqua, our history has passed, in Murta Nueva, we can live (in peace). If there is a rodeo, I’ll be in the quincha, if there is a sporting event, I’m going to play. When you see me, I’ll give you a smile. If there is a celebration, I’m going to dance. I am from Murta, land of Chile, a place of dreams which you’ll never forget.”
Bahía Murta is famous for cattle ranching, with delicious “organic, grass-fed, free-range” beef. Murtinos haven’t developed a special system focused on delivering these trendy characteristics; rather, wandering the meadows munching on fresh, natural grasses, is just the happy, every day, reality of being a cow in this beautiful and natural zone. People come to Murta from all over the region, to buy fresh beef and you can too! To find a local butcher, look for the little red flags posted outside the stores in town – these red flags indicate that there is fresh meat on hand. One sure bet is the Carnicería La Bahía ((09) 84652955), located beside the Plaza de Arms. Don Exequiel Bello Inostroza, the butcher offers fresh beef almost every Tuesday and Friday. He is also an accomplished soguero, a master of the art of working raw leather into beautiful and intricate reins, bridles and other types of tack.
In fact, there are many fascinating artisans and folklorists in Bahía Murta and several love to share their traditions and crafts; telling the tales of parents and grandparents who taught them these time-honored practices. In addition to Don Exequiel Bello Inostroza, you can visit Señora Nuvia Muñoz Téllez, who is an accomplished gardener and artisan, specializing in wool crafts (Sector el Engaño Km 201). Señora Deyanira Muñoz Aguilar (Av. 18 de septiembre 482), develops textiles from local wool, and Señora Patricia Alarcón Bustos (12 de octubre N° 78), is a local musician and folklorist who is teaching her son to carry on the traditions of accordion and guitar. These members of the community are willing to share their knowledge with visitors, but keep in mind that they do not work in tourism and may not always be available for visit.
Bahía Murta is surrounded by incredible nature with perfect fly-fishing rivers, beautiful mountains and forests for trekking, the turquoise waters of the lake for boating or kayaking, and exquisite natural hot springs. To take advantage of all this nature, head to the Cabana y Hospedaje SuizAike, located at kilometer 4.5 along the road to Puerto Sánchez. It’s a magical place to visit, with an incredible log-home and cabin set deep within the nature in this sector and its charming owners offer a full range of excursions and activities.