After the intense journey along the Carretera Austral, the Ñadis is the ideal sector to rest, relax and experience the quiet pace of life of the Aysén countryside. The area offers refuges and camping, along with various rural activities that will help you connect with the landscapes and local livelihoods in this beautiful environment, just 45 km south of Cochrane. The entrance to the sector is next to the Barrancoso River Bridge. Look for the wooden signs and follow their indications for the secondary road off the Carretera Austral that leads straight to the farm sector along the Ñadis River.
After three kilometers along this road, you’ll arrive at La Araucaria Camping and Refuge, which is a local farm that has developed a great camping area, a shelter with a kitchen, and bathrooms with hot water showers. The owners offer asados, artisan crafts, farm-grown vegetables and horseback riding to El Saltón and the San Carlos pass.
Continue along the same farm road six kilometers further and you’ll find the Los Cipreses sheep and cattle ranch, where the Sanchez - Schindele family have built a great sleeping refuge and camping area (Refugio y Camping Río Ñadis). It has a fully equipped kitchen and living area, a bedroom with bunk beds for four people, hot water showers, and an incredible artisan quincho, ideal for preparing asados.
Señora Elisabeth Schindele is a master baker and prepares D-E-L-I-C-I-O-U-S homemade breads in her clay oven and offers loaves to guests (for purchase), along with homemade jams made from berries and fruits from the farm. If her delicious breads inspire your inner baker, you can learn to prepare them yourself. Señora Elisabeth offers a bread-making kit, with instructions and all the necessary ingredients to prepare and cook your own loaves in the wood-burning oven of the refuge.
Horseback riding to El Salton and the San Carlos Pass
The Ñadis Sector is the starting point for a great horseback ride through landscapes that represent fundamental aspects of Patagonia’s history. Various rural tourism operators offer this ride, including Refugio y Camping La Araucaria and the Refugio y Camping Los Ñadis.
After a short orientation to your horses and the route, you begin the ride following a trail used by the inhabitants of the sector. The route travels through coigüe and ñirre forests and open meadows, bordering the Baker River and creeks. In the distance, you are surrounded by the snow-covered mountains and glaciers of the Northern Patagonia Ice Fields. The area is habitat for several native and migratory birds, including buff-necked Ibis and southern lapwing.
After riding approximately two hours you will start to hear a strong sound. It is the thunder of the Baker as it crashes over the rocks in the Salton Sector. Here, you’ll leave your horses and walk down a short trail leading to a great overlook of the Salton Falls, where you can take pictures and enjoy watching the unpredictable movements of the river’s waters. Imagine how impressive it was for the German geographer Hans Steffen, when he found this place while exploring the Baker in 1898!
If you look just beyond the falls, you will notice that there is a pass cut into the cliff on the other side. This is the San Carlos Pass, cut into the rock to facilitate a connection between the areas in the interior of Baker – O’Higgins Area and the fjords that connected with the Pacific. Construction of the pass began in 1901 but the pass was virtually abandoned a few years later because of the danger and difficulty it presented. In 1921 it was revived and used by the Posada, Hobbs & CIA Livestock Company, administered by Lucas Bridges, in order to move livestock from the interior to the fjords. The San Carlos Pass was declared National Historic Monument because of the important role it played in the colonization of this area.
During your visit, you will have the opportunity to hike up to the Pass, where you will be rewarded with an impressive panorama of the river. It’s a great vantage point for observing the condors that frequent this sector. From here, you have the option of walking for ten minutes more to an overlook with spectacular views of the next stretch of the river as it winds in the direction of the sea.