GPT18 - Lago Pirihueico
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Season Section Log
- 25 Dec 2021 / Molly and Melissa / Northbound / 4 days
Good: You dive deep into old forests, it feels like true jungle. Many beautiful flowery meadows. Beautiful views on the last-ish part before the lake + the lake. We didn't meet anyone after crossing the gate. Nice hot springs in the beginning. The ferry trip itself Bad: Quite slow to get through a section of the forest - definitely manageable. Feels very much like breaking in as you literally climb a huge fence. Forest may be a little repetitive for some
GPT18: The first part marked as a minor road is now paved. We camped at the first hot springs without the dollar sign. It's a big field where you can camp, and the hot springs are really nice. There are several holes right next to the river, and the water has a nice temperature, not too hot, though probably still best when out of the sun. We didn't go to the other hot springs (Chihuío) where you have to pay, but it seems to be a big swimming pool of a kind. They close at 17:30. When continuing on the gravel road, several signs tell you that it's private property, and finally you get to a big gate next to a house. Maybe the guard's? No one was around when we came, though, and we climbed across the gate. From there we took the optional route along the gravel road, as you had to climb yet another gate to get to the regular route. When the gravel road split up, we picked the one closest to the river. It was nice and clear all the way, whereas the other one seemed very muddy. They met again, our route was behind a little gate that could easily be opened. From there, the optional route followed a very small trail, pretty overgrown, but still definitely doable. It seemed that someone had recently been through with a machete, we didn't need one. At one point we came to a barbed wire fence, and the trail seemed to continue along it. That was wrong, you have to cross the fence immediately, and the trail continues on the other side. We met the regular route by the river at two and decided to continue to the next spot marked as camp. That gave us a long day, the trail was still overgrown, though better than the previous, and it was slow going. When we came through it wasn't muddy though. There was nowhere to camp before the bridge. Right after, there is an abandoned field to the right of the route, the grass is quite long, but it's an okay camping site. The plant with bright orange flowers and white spots on the leaves hurt to the touch, like a stinging nettle. We saw strawberry plants everywhere, a nice section when they are in season!
From there, the rest of the way is on an abandoned 4x4 track, it's never difficult to see, but a little overgrown in places. It climbs above the treeline where the view is very nice, but we were attacked by hordes of flies that went away as we walked back into the forest. We camped on the lake shore, it's a great place to swim. Puerto Pirihueico has several restaurants, we had empanadas at Donde Mané, they were great.
The boat leaves everyday at 4 pm from Puerto Pirihueico and arrives at Puerto Fuy around 5 - too late for any busses. It seems you should buy tickets in the big building next to the lake? bus leaves for Panguipulli the next day around 7 am and 9 am - I think the last is at around 4 pm, and from there there are many busses to Valdivia. There are a ton of accomodation options and restaurants in Puerto Fuy.
- Feb 2020 / Matthieu / Northbound
Forest trail, a part technical and slow. The rest is nice and calm, easy to follow, for the ones liking the smell of fresh herbs, flowers, and the bees.
- Track followed : I followed the recommendations of Martina Ivo Arnaud and Matus. Arriving on the RR, just before the waypoint "Guards", there was a huge portal, closed. But not the usual portal easy to climb, the type of portal to say that you don´t want cars and walkers in. I decided to cross country straight north to the Rio Curringue and cross here to join the OH18-001. This OH is a big truck path, so no difficulties. I suspect that there are constructing a road north to Puerto Fuy on this side of the river. After the camp 135, The is a div follonwing the OH 001. There begins the little technical forest trail (good little horsetrail, well maintained by the locals, easy to follow but really muddy and a lot of up and downhill). It goes to the river Curringue againm that you have to cross, and join the RR after on the other side, until Camp 134. It personnally took me around 5 hours to go from camp 135 to Camp 134, so I would recommend not to begin this section at the end of the day. No need of the machete. After Camp 134, 4x4 road, easy to follow. Keep an eye on the GPS thow, lots of traps with other roads going everywhere, waiting for careless walkers !
- Legality of this section ? : It seems unclear. Everything from Chihuiyo to Pirehueico/Puerto Fuy is part of the Huilo Huilo Parc. BUt the only part that you have to pay for seems to be the northern part, next to Neltume, where there is a lot of tourists. The optionnal road 001 seems free and I even crossed a chilean family at the camp 135, with their car, and they had a barbecue before around. After Camp 134, I crossed a car of Guardaparques : they just asked me where I came from and where I went, made sure that I had the GPS to not loose myself in the forest, and let me continue without discussion. So I guess that there is finally no problems with walking in this part of the parc.
- 2020-Feb-13 / Martina & Ivo / Regular route southbound and optional route between Estero El Africano and waypoint "Guard".
3 days. Thanks to the previous comments of Arnaud and Matus we were prepared for the middle part of this section. At the Estero El Africano we didn't try long to find the regular route but crossed the Río Curringue to take optional route 001, 002 and 003 and got back to the regular route at the waypoint "Guard".
The whole stretch RR-MR-V@18-64.1+8.1 (from the waypoint "Camp" to the Estero El Africano) is a muddy trail, no minor road, which makes quite a difference in hiking time calculation.
We didn't really look for resupply, accommodation or transportation opportunities in Curriñe or Puerto Maihue but at the moment in high season it's very easy to hitchhike to Futrono, where you find everything, plus regular busses to Valdivia.
- 2019-Dec-5 / Shaun C / 1 Day Lago Pirihueico only / Southbound / Optional Packrafting Route
Packrafted Lago Pirihueico only - as add-on to Section 17P. Didn’t hike any part of Section 18. At Puerto Fuy, an official of the Armada/Navy said solo kayaking on the lake was prohibited, but after a 10 minute conversation I convinced him to let me do it. Key was saying that I, not Navy, bore responsibility. Lake is stunning, especially at dawn.
2020-16-01 / Arnaud Debilly / southbound 4 days with one day off due to rain We started with the ferry from puerto fuy at 9am (3 or 4 boats a day - around 1000 clp). 1h30 trip to pirihueico. Then the path starts in the private property of the parque Huilo Huilo ("no entrar" sign but no one to check). The path is clear, looks like a minor road with ancient bridges to cross the river. After around 40km, the track follows a very little path, looks like bush bashing during 5km. Then you join a river, parallel to the track. At that point, we followed the track that went into the forest. It was so dense that we did maybe 200m in one hour. We decided to turn back to walk in the river (around 2km), or on the side, until we found a real path. That was a good and efficient solution. We found no guardaparques or private guards to discuss right of way passage so had no problems with this aspect.
|GPT18: Lago Pirihueico||Hiking||Packrafting|
|Group||D: Lagos Chilenos||Total||72.5 km||22 h||88.0 km||27 h|
|Region||Chile: Los Ríos (XIV)||Trails (TL)||4.5 km||6.2%||4.6 km||5.3%|
|Start||Puerto Fuy||Minor Roads (MR)||67.1 km||92.6%||60.5 km||68.7%|
|Finish||Puerto Maihue||Primary Roads (PR)||0.9 km||1.2%||-||-|
|Status||Published & Verified||Cross-Country (CC)||-||-||0.4 km||0.5%|
|Traversable||Dec - Apr (Maybe: Oct, Nov, May)||Bush-Bashing (BB)||-||-||-||-|
|Packraft||Very Useful||Ferry (FY)||(25.1 km)||(25.7%)||-||-|
|Connects to||GPT17H, GPT17P, GPT19||Investigation (I)||-||-||-||-|
|Options||143 km (2 Options & Variants)||Exploration (EXP)||-||-||-||-|
|Hiking||Packrafting||Total on Water||22.5 km||25.6%|
|Attraction||2 (of 5)||4 (of 5)||River (RI)||-||-|
|Difficulty||3 (of 5)||4 (of 5)||Lake (LK)||22.5 km||25.6%|
|Direction||Both ↓↑||Both ↓↑||Fjord (FJ)||-||-|
|Character||Valdivian Rain Forest, Settlers, Lake Packrafting|
|Challenges||Demanding River Fords, Bush Bashing, Right-of-Way Disputes|
Satellite Image Map
Elevation Profile of Regular Hiking Route
Elevation Profile of Regular Packrafting Route
Section Planning Status
Recommended Travel Period
Benefits of Hiking and Packrafting
Recommended Travel Direction
Section Length and Travel Duration
Suitable Section Combinations
Services: ATM and Money Exchange
Accommodation: Hostals and Hotels
Transport: Ground Transport
Transport: Shipping Services
Resupply on the Trail
Location, Names, Available Items and Services
- Puerto Pirihueico
Several restaurants and a small shop which has coffee, tea, pasta and flour. Cabañas and camp ground
Access to Route and Return
Access to Start
There are a few buses a day from Panguipulli to Puerto Fuy This link gives the ferry timetable from Puerto Fuy to Puerto Pirehueico in English: https://barcazahuahum.com/en/schedule-and-prices/
Return from Finish
Permits, Entry Fees and Right-of-Way Issues
Regular Hiking Route
Regular Packrafting Route
- Route description by Kara Davis after Season 2017/18:
Notes to consider before beginning: We were halted by rangers in a jeep on the 4WD road on the west side of Río Pillanleufu. They informed us it was illegal to be in Huilo Huilo at this time because the reserve was closed for the rehabilitation of the Pudú, the world’s smallest deer. We had no knowledge of this since we entered the reserve in a very remote location and there was not adequate signage to inform us of this closure. After explaining this to the ranger, they escorted us out of the reserve. You may want to enquire about the status of Huilo Huilo before beginning this section.
Comment by Jan Dudeck: This was publicly accessible land with public roads until the Petermann clan took control of this vast property during the final year of the Pinochet dictatorship. Huilo Huilo is not advertised as a “private for profit reserve” with very expensive high-end lodging but wood logging continues in parts of this property. Several hikers reported that they were stopped by guards and send or escorted out. It remains unclear to me if the right-of-way legally ended or if the new owner simply want to keep people out that don’t spend lots of money.
GPT18 begins with a 23 km paddle on Lago Pirihueico, a long, remote, serpentine lake. There are almost no residences along the shoreline of Lago Pirihueico, but there are some beaches suitable for camping. A ferry also runs from Puerto Fuy to Puerto Pirihueico at the southern end of the lake several times a day. You can find more information about the ferry and make reservations here: https://barcazahuahum.com/en/schedule-and-prices/.
The take-out is not obvious, and we relied on our GPS to guide us to the spot. A short walk up is a 4WD track that leads into the Reserva Biológica Huilo Huilo. The track is overgrown and littered with downed trees but becomes clearer and easier to navigate as it ascends. The views are gorgeous as the 4WD track climbs above treeline.
As the route nears the roaring Río Pillanleufu, it reduces to a single track trail. The trail meanders on the east shore of the river and eventually disappears. We backtracked a bit and made our way down to the east river bank which we followed until we picked up the trail in a large meadow. A bridge is located where the GPS track is shown crossing over the Río Pillanleufu to the west side and joining a 4WD road. The vegetation on this side of the river is thick and camping is hard to come across.
About 10 km from the bridge crossing, the 4WD track ends in an impenetrable bamboo forest. We backtracked and headed down to the west bank of the Río Pillanleufu where we found a horse track that eventually led back to the main route. The route follows easy grade farm roads until exiting onto T-559. T-559 is a windy gravel road which makes for an easy road walk all the way to Lago Maihue and the end of GPT18.
Futrono, about a 40 minute drive from where the route joins T-559, is the nearest large town. It has a variety of restaurants and lodging options and is a good place to resupply. There is no central bus station in Futrono, but there is a gas station at the east end of town where you can pick up a bus that will take you back to the trail.