GPT31P - Lagos de Aysén
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- GPT31P / Regular Packrafting Route Southbound / 2019-Dec-03 / 5 easy going days / Meylin Ubilla & Jan Dudeck
After we aborted the traverse GPT90P due to an completely overgrown trail (after all settlers abandoned the area) we returned seamless on GPT31P to Coyhaique.
This section combines a succession of lake crossings and river floats into a quite diverse packrafting route.
This section is only feasible in southbound direction due to the predominant wind direction on the lakes and the flow direction of the river float.
GPT31P is a suitable continuation right after floating down Rio Palena (GPT27P & GPT28P) in particular if traveling with the ferry from Raul Marin Balmaceda directly to Puerto Chacabuco. GPT29P and GPT30P are both pretty special, only feasible in northbound directions and require a very big appetite for adventure and luck with weather so skipping section GPT29P and GPT30P is a reasonable choice for most packrafters.
The roughly 6 km float on Rio Blanco should not pose a significant challenge to even novice packrafters.
Lago Riesco, Lago Portales, Lago Zenteno and Lago Atravesado are between 6 and 10 km long with few suitable exits along the shore. In good calm weather these 4 lakes are true packrafting delights but if the wind picks up even these smaller lakes should not be undermined.
Lago Elizalde is a different category. This 30 km long Lage is a wind channel and pretty impressive waves can build up in windy weather. With a classic open packraft this lake traverse can easily become a frightening challenge. So packrafters with a classic open boat should wait for a calm weather window before venturing on this lake. We traversed this lake this time in pretty rough conditions with an extra-long double packraft with spraydeck. We ended up surfing in some parts at least 1.5 m high waves; something that we did not intent doing.
Portages: Lago Riesco to Rio Blanco: Easy 100 m portage crossing the gravel road. Make sure to not take the lake outlet river but do the portage.
Rio Blanco to Lago Portales: this roughly 3 km portage follows mostly the gravel road. Only the last 300 m are cross country down to the lake.
Lago Portales to Lago Zenteno: 1 km on minor roads and cattle tracks.
Lago Zenteno to Lago Atravesado: Connecting footstep hikers/packrafters might find the 24 km of gravel road annoying but we hopped on a car that took right from Lago Zenteno to Lago Atravezado. If you don’t like hiking gravel roads you might take the minibus that travels this route on Monday, Wednesday and Friday.
Lago Atravesado to Lago Elizalde: 300 m partly on stairs that end on a small hydro power station. Nice camping sites up at Lago Atravesado with space refuge but not down at Lago Elizalde. If you don’t have weather luck to cross Lago Elizalde in calm weather you may walk out from Lago Atravesado.
It took us 5 days but we had two very short days; one to rest in good weather on the shore of Lago Riesco and another one when we got invited by the settlers on Lago Portales. There we also learned why the trail of section GPT90P was partially cleaned.
|GPT31P: Lagos de Aysen||Hiking||Packrafting|
|Group||G: Aysen Norte||Total||-||-||90.7 km||25 h|
|Region||Chile: Aysén (XI)||Trails (TL)||-||-||1.3 km||1.4%|
|Start||Puerto Cisnes||Minor Roads (MR)||-||-||39.0 km||43.0%|
|Finish||Villa Frei||Primary Roads (PR)||-||-||4.3 km||4.7%|
|Status||Published & Verified||Cross-Country (CC)||-||-||0.3 km||0.3%|
|Traversable||Sep - May||Bush-Bashing (BB)||-||-||0.4 km||0.5%|
|Packraft||Required||Ferry (FY)||-||-||(171.2 km)||(65.4%)|
|Connects to||GPT28P, GPT29P, GPT32||Investigation (I)||-||-||(0.7 km)||(0.7%)|
|Options||236 km (4 Options & Variants)||Exploration (EXP)||-||-||-||-|
|Hiking||Packrafting||Total on Water||45.5 km||50.1%|
|Attraction||-||4 (of 5)||River (RI)||5.5 km||6.1%|
|Difficulty||-||4 (of 5)||Lake (LK)||39.9 km||44.0%|
|Direction||None||Both ↓↑||Fjord (FJ)||-||-|
|Comment||Hiking: Hiking not feasible|
|Character||Packrafting: ↓ Recommended, ↑ Exploration option|
|Challenges||Valdivian Rain Forest, Farmland, Settlers, River Packrafting, Lake Packrafting|
Satellite Image Map
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
Access to Route and Return
Access to Start
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: It may make sense to treat GPT31 and GPT32 as one continuous stretch. Resupplying in between is logistically difficult and requires several extra kilometers of hiking.
GPT31P begins at El Salto, or the intersection of highway 240 and Ruta X-560. Along Ruta X-560, which is a maintained gravel road, are several signs advertising Parque Aiken del Sur which is a private ecological reserve. Stay on the road until reaching a brown building with a sign out front that says “Lago Riesco.” Across from the building is another road which leads down to a dock. If the main gate is locked, there is a side gate a few meters further down the fence. Be aware that legal camping is sparse in this area.
The banks of Lago Riesco are heavily vegetated and steep, broken by the occasional small beach where camping may be possible. About half way through the paddle is a salmon farm located near the southern shore. The take-out is a long beach with a gravel road that leads up to Ruta X-550. It is possible to camp here, but the beach is covered in trash.
Don’t bother deflating your packraft, because it is easily carried to the put-in for Río Aysén less than a kilometer away. Exit onto Ruta X-550, cross the road and go through the wooden gate. A 4WD track will lead you to the river. There are some good put-in spots closer to the cables you’ll see running over the river.
The Río Aysén is a large and swift river with few obstacles. The take out is a small rocky beach at the base of a steep grassy bank. Ascend the bank, and make your way through the field. Left of the obvious buildings, you should see a faint road that leads to a wooden gate. Go through the gate and walk up the driveway to Ruta X-518, a rough and lightly trafficked gravel road.
The GPS route splits from the road just north of Lago Portales, but it is possible to continue to follow X-518 another 2 km to a nice put-in by an aluminum building. At the one split in the road, take the right fork down towards the lake.
There is no obvious camping on Lago Portales. The banks were very steep and heavily forested. Take-out is at a rocky beach near a residence. A 4WD tracks climbs towards a house and continues past it to a road. The road becomes a braided and muddy cow track that leads through brush down to Lago Zenteno. The put-in is a small and reed-covered bank.
There is no camping for the first several kilometers of Lago Zenteno. There are no beaches, only reed covered banks. Near the end of the paddle, there is an island that has nice camping and a few curious goats.
Take-out is a small beach 100 m from the island. There is a structure located here as well as a place to camp with a fire ring. Follow the gravel road that eventually joins with X-610. The road walk to Lago Atravesado is lightly trafficked, surrounded with private land, and fenced on both sides for most of the way. The put-in for Lago Atravesado is at the base of a dirt road that turns off from X-608. There is a small camp spot here with a fire ring.
From the put-in at Lago Atravesado, head south southwest to the disguised entrance of a small channel. The take out for the lake is a metal dock set upon a rocky beach. There are many flat spaces to camp here and up the grassy walkway is an open structure with long wooden tables.
Follow the grassy path past the hydroelectric dam to a set of stairs that descend down to Lago Elizalde. The put-in here is at the base of the dam. Intersect with GPT32 in the middle of the lake.