From the forests of Villa Amengual to the pampas of Alto Río Cisnes

From the forests of Villa Amengual to the pampas of Alto Río Cisnes
Palena - Queulat Area

Since the beginning of the twentieth century, the Río Cisnes Estancia has provided jobs and opportunities for the settlers of Villa La Tapera and Alto Río Cisnes. Travel this scenic route to visit this historic estancia.

  • Data sheet

    Activity Type: Scenic route of historical, cultural and natural interest

    Start: Villa Amengual.

    End: Alto Río Cisnes.

    Distance: 180 km round trip traveling Route X-25, from the Carretera Austral.

    Duration: 6 - 8 hours.

    Seasonality: Year round. 

    Special Considerations: From the Río Cisnes Estancia, you’ll be just a few kilometers from Argentina and the Río Frías Border Crossing. Before crossing, talk with local police (Carabineros de Chile) regarding road conditions. If you are a citizen or permanent resident of Chile you will need to obtain a salvoconducto before crossing. Foreign visitors may need to obtain a tourist visa to enter Argentina (available on line). Remember to fill your tank in Mañihuales or Puyuhuapi before traveling.

    Reservations: Not required.

    Services: If you want to contact the Estancia in advance, you can visit their office in Coyhaique or contact them by phone: Baquedano 776, Coyhaique; (067) 2233055; (02) 19624513; www.estanciariocisnes.com.

This route starts in Villa Amengual, taking Route X-25 in the direction of Villa La Tapera. We recommend stopping in Villa Amengual before you begin the route; there are multiple choices for accommodation and an excellent Center for Crafts. You can buy snacks and supplies in Villa Amengual and also in Villa La Tapera. Route X-25 begins by traveling through lush forest comprised of coigüe, tepa, mañío y ciruelillo, bordered by the valleys and waters of the Cisnes River. There are several spots for fly-fishing along this way, and overlooks where you’ll capture great shots of the intense greens and blues of the river, and large side canyons filled with white water rapids visible from the road. You’ll also be able to observe countless waterfalls, rivers and streams joining the river from these side canyons and valleys, helping to add volume as the river makes its way to the Pacific Ocean in the vicinity of Puerto Cisnes.

The landscape begins to change drastically as one nears Villa La Tapera. The forest cover changes from evergreen temperate rain forest to deciduous forests comprised of lenga and ñirre, and the landscape begins to open up, allowing you to see the mountains in all directions. Soon, you’ll leave behind the forest altogether; once past the village, Patagonian steppe quickly takes over the horizon, dominated by small scrub trees and grasses like coiron. Throughout the drive, you’ll see signage indicating the lands of the Río Cisnes Estancia. Nevertheless, from the moment you cross over onto the Pampa, pretty much everything in your view belongs to this giant ranch. 

Villa La Tapera is a strange mixture of ancient houses constructed of adobe and tejuelas (hand crafted wooden shingles), mixed with modern paved streets, a fitness center and  a brand new, state of the art, school. The vast majority of people who live in Villa La Tapera are associated with the Estancia in one way or another, so if you have questions or want to learn more, strike up a conversation with someone in town. It’s a gaucho culture, and interestingly, some time back, wild boar and red deer were introduced; Taperians have become skilled hunters and offer visitors excellent meals featuring these exotic meats.

The journey continues eastward across the pampa in the direction of the border with Argentina, until, after approximately 37 kilometers, you encounter the airstrip, enormous barns and structures of the Río Cisnes Estancia, along the left-hand side of the road. Keep watch for gauchos working with the enormous sheep herds and native fauna like caiquenes, hares and birds of prey including eagles, kestrels and of course, the enormous Andean condor. The Río Cisnes Estancia was initiated in the 1920s under the direction of the Sociedad Ganadera Cisnes and went on to become one of the three largest estancias of Aysén. Today the Estancia is comprised of approximately 130 thousand hectares, and is focused on its sheep operations with a small secondary focus on cattle production. Some of the original facilities of the Estancia were declared to be of importance for National Heritage by the National Monuments Council in 2009. If you would like to visit these buildings, including the original house and the Cuero Bayo Sheering Shed, stop by the office to register and receive instructions.

From the Estancia you can also visit the Carlota Lake National Reserve which is an ideal place to camp, hike and fish. For more information and access to the reserve, coordinate with the office of the Estancia; it is necessary to cross Estancia land and even open some locked gates on the way.

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Notes

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Photographs

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Videos

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Routes

To go this route , you'll need a good map. Find the details and steps here in georeferenced and downloadable version Smartphone, Tablet and GPS .

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