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GPT18 (Lago Pirihueico)

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* Start Date to Finish Date (use Format YYYY-MMM-DD) / Duration in Days / Hiking or Packrafting / Travel Direction (SOBO for Southbound or NOBO Northbound) / Chosen Route and/or Option Name (RR for Regular Route) / Names or Alias

Summary with remarks to route that are considered useful for other hikers and packrafters. Include alerts, suggestions and personal perception of attractiveness and difficulties.

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Section Log, Alerts and Suggestions

Season 2025/26

Season 2024/25

Season 2023/24

  • Recommendation Jan Dudeck in November 2023: Based on the STRAVA Heat Global Heatmap (https://www.strava.com/heatmap#11.72/-71.93115/-40.05048/hot/all) the route GPT18 Option 1 is more used. It remains unclear if this route gets hikers in the right-of-way dispute. Anyway, it seams worthwhile attempting this route especially when walking southbound. This should avoid demanding bush bashing and also prevents some more difficult river crossings.

  • 2023-Nov-22 / 4 days / Packrafting / SOBO / RR / Tom Pieper

After section 17P I continued on that section. Had no issues with the armada de Chile. I guess you can prevent problems by inflating the packraft at the park/camping spot as indicated in the packrafting track files (some trees provide shelter, too). The crossing of the lake was amazing. I scouted a potential emergency camp site at (S 30° 53.353' W071° 50.302') with a little creek and an abandoned track that winds out into the mountains but not investigated the track further. The Camp {18} [7.9+0.4/625] is fantastic. Nice views and beach. Next day I continued to Camp {18} [22.2/615]. Some fisherman are around in the afternoon at this part of the lake. Had a nice chat with three of them - the lake is famous for its trouts. Saw also some close to the shore in shallow water. Next day I went ashore at RP-TL-V {18} [22.9+0.1] and continued regular route. The track is in good condition (only a few small trunks) despite the second Bridge {18} [37.1/1012] is collapsed. But the river can be forded easily instead. Snow starts at 1200 m a soon became a problem. As the ascent to Pass {18} [43.0/1485] lies on the southern site, snow is retained on the broad but winding track forming snow shields of 1-3 m thickness. Saying that, the ascent is possible but exhaustive. I only went to the pass and returned as up there the amount of snow gets massive an the track is covered completely under steep snowy flanks. I guess it to be better on the descent on the northern side but I did not investigated. I camped on the track for one night and continued the next day to the shore where I landed the day before. Met a group of 15 mountainbiking Chilenos who said they have to make it to Puerto Fuy over that track, but I do not know if and how they achived. You can encounter Chilean Ocelot Tarantula and Darwin's frog directly on the track close to the lake. Next day I tooked the RH-MR-V {18} [26.0+6.5] to Puerto Pirehueico and toked the ferry back to Puerto Fuy.

Season 2022/23

  • Recommendation Frank in January 2023: Option OH-001 crossing Rio Corrigue: this section barely exists as large parts have been taken back by bamboo. It is now a severe & sustained bamboo bash requiring huge effort to crawl, break & climb through at about 1 kilometre per hour. Try RR or other options instead

  • 2023-Feb-04 / 3.5 days / Hiking / SOBO / RR + OH 18-A / Martin & Helena

Ferry from Pt Fuy leaves 4 times a day (schedule posted to fb group) but in high season it seems to be sold out quickly - at 09:30 we were able to buy tickets only for the last one that day and there was a big line… some people might have a reservation, but we are not sure if its possible to book in advance. The price is a little over 1000 CLP, payment only with cc. However we asked at the 13:30 ferry if we can take it since we have just backpacks and don’t even need a seat, and there was no problem, the ferry had way more seats than people anyway. Possible to charge electronics there and buy drinks. On the other side are 2 accomodation options - cabaña and basic rooms in residence house that are for 40k CLP for 3 bed room and 30k CLP for 2 single bed room, incl. private bathroom with hot water. Basic shop is a little overpriced so better to buy in Pt Fuy. Good options for eating - huge sandwiches, empanadas and local beer in the wooden kiosks where most of the people from ferry go.

We continued the next day, jumping over a gate and crawling under a barbed wire fence after. The way to the pass is a minor road through nice forrest. From X point at km 50.5 the trail becomes a little less visible for the next 4km with some fallen trees and branches here and there, but still nice walking. Fun begins at camp km 64.1 - trail becomes gradually more and more overgrown, eventhough its not so hard to follow it, we were progressing really slow. At the end its a lot of crawling close to the ground to get under all the bamboos, and very tropical conditions in our case.

We were not sure which route is the best one to follow after, so we started with RR, but decided to leave it after first few meters after the ford as it was densly overgrown. Thanks to Molly and Melis comment we took the optional route on the other side and it was really close to normal trail, what a pleasent surprise for us! Someone had work on it recently, there were new barbed wires at the beginning where you have to crawl under the fence, but from there only a few little overgrown parts. After 2.5 km you join a 4x4 road and that goes all the way to the gate. We were again finishing late in the evening to reach the camp with thermas, and before the gate we met a car with english-speaking locals who looked surprised to see us at first, but showed us the way and advised us to ask the guard to open the gate for us. When we reached the gate, we saw light in the guards house, but decided to climb over the gate, that was locked at the time. After around 1.5 km we came to a house that was also secured by a wooden gate, easy to climb over. Free camp with hot springs has a lot of space and there were some locals (friday evening), even more came in the morning. Pools have warm but not hot water which is perfect for a bath with view.

Unmarked small shop is at the beginning of the paved road and many more shops and places to eat on the main route to the lake. The marked shop at km 93.3 has good supplies and prices.

Contact: @martin_hanzelka @helenneka

  • 2023-Jan-04 to 2023-Jan-06 / 3 days / Hiking / SOBO / RR / Zach + Valentin

After meeting in Bolivia, we met up again in Puerto Fuy. Dubious section selection for Valentin’s first multi day hike. We took the 09:00 super scenic ferry to Puerto Pirehueico. Another vote for Mané’s empanadas de pescado. After hopping over the signless fence the trail follows an old road bed with a gentle grade for a day and a half: one last dip in the lake, a nice woods vibe, big old trees, some light caressing of bushes, and flowers galore. My paddle blade made an excellent Tábano (horsefly) swatter for the open fields. Views at the pass were rewarding but brief. After the bridge and cabin at 64.2 the bamboo bumping began. A machete would have been cathartic. The regular route trail (RR-TL-V {18} [62.7/72.2+2.1]) was the whackiest. Gaps in the trees allowed sufficient sunshine for walls of bamboo to grow. It was usually possible to see the old treadway but slow goings averaging less than 1 km/hr. “Termas➡️” was written in red on a tree around (-40.1600, -71.9206) but we didn’t investigate. We didn’t see (RR-TL-V {18} [67.6/77.2+1.3]) and forded when the road reached the river, shimmying under barbed wire on the other side. Later we saw the riverside gate a bit south of the southernmost “ford?” location. No problems with guards or property owners. The termas naturales were a splendid end to Valentin’s first backpacking trip. We got a ride out from a couple at the hot springs.

  • 2023-Jan-03 / 3 days / Hiking / SOBO / RR & optional route between Estero El Africano and waypoint "Guard" / Frank

The first 40KM are on an old jeep track. There are some fallen trees but you can generally get round them easily. At Camp 133 the ground is rough & I didn't find a good camping spot. Instead a little before the camp I crossed the stream & 200 metres downstream there are two huts. The smaller one is in good condition & I slept on the floor. Saw wild boar nearby. You cross the river on a bridge to a hut, continuing on a trail that is partly overgrown with young bamboo. Bush bashing is mostly easy. Also some fallen trees & 2 very short sections of severe bamboo bashing.

Crossed Rio Curringue near Estero Africano to continue on optional trail 001. If you follow track file 001 after the river crossing you come to an impenetrable wall of bamboo. Instead I went downstream about 40 metres & by a small wall I cut up onto the trail. It gets clearer as you go up but soon disappears in the bamboo forest. Micro navigation is required as if you break through on the route you may come to a partially clear section where you can walk upright but breaking off route generally leads to more bamboo. This section was the most overgrown I encountered on GPT1-40. A machete would not be very useful as the bamboo is growing in solid walls. When you get to 002 it is a clear jeep track & 003 is also good. Took me 9 hours to get from camp 134 to 135. It would be best to avoid crossing Rio Curringue & stay on RR. The alternative route which splits from RR at camp 134 may also be viable. Camped on a small layby above where optional route 003 descends to the river. Easy river crossing on day 3 & I walked out by waypoint "guard" The guard was at the house near the gate but he just waved & the gate was open.

Season 2021/22

  • 2021-Dec-25 / 4 days / Hiking / NOBO / Molly and Melissa

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.

Season 2020/21

Season 2019/20

  • 2020-Feb / Hiking / NOBO / RR + OH-01 / Matthieu

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 walke

-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 / 3 days / Hiking / SOBO / RR + OH-01 + 02 + 03 between Estero El Africano and waypoint "Guard" / Martina & Ivo

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 / 1 day / Packrafting / SOBO / OP Lago Pirihueico only / Shaun C

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-Jan-16 / 4 days / Hiking / SOBO / Arnaud Debilly

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.

Season 2018/19

Season 2017/18

  • Kara Davis

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.

Town: Futrono

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.

Season 2016/17

Resupply and Accommodation

Resupply and Accommodation in nearby Towns

  • Puerto Pirihueico

Several restaurants and a small shop which has coffee, tea, pasta and flour. Cabañas and camp ground

Resupply and Accommodation along the Route

Transport to and from Route

There are frequent buses from Valdivia to Pangipulli, about one an hour from 8AM to 9PM. There are 5 buses a day from Panguipulli to Puerto Fuy Monday-Friday, 4 on Saturday & 2 on Sunday. The last one every day is at 7:30 PM This link gives the ferry timetable from Puerto Fuy to Puerto Pirehueico in English: https://barcazahuahum.com/en/schedule-and-prices/

Permits, Entry Fees and Right-of-Way Issues

Links to other Resources

Retired Section Article GPT18 - Lago Pirihueico


A beach at Pirihueico
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