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Queulat National Park: How to Visit the Epic Hanging Glacier

Queulat National Park: How to Visit the Epic Hanging Glacier

Queulat National Park is a spectacular area of natural beauty in Patagonia. The Hanging Glacier (Ventisquero Colgante) is a hidden gem tucked away in Queulat National Park, which is located in Puyuhuapi, Chile. Basically, the Hanging Glacier has a mindblowing waterfall pouring out of it! Indeed, it’s the Hanging Glacier that attracts visitors. But, there’s plenty else to do at Queulat National Park. In this guide, we’ll tell you everything you need to know about Queulat National Park and the immense Hanging Glacier in Chile.

FYI – there is another hanging glacier with a waterfall in Patagonia in Bariloche called Castaño Overa. Beck and I were lucky enough to visit them after our trip to Queulat National Park.

Queulat National Park Chile

Queulat National Park (Parque Nacional Queulat), AKA Queulat Park (Parque Queulat) has many wonderful natural attractions. Other than the stunning Hanging Glacier, there is pristine rainforest, lakes and mountains to enjoy. Indeed, we’re not exaggerating when we say the natural landscape here is easily on par with the lovely scenery encountered on the W Trek. Best of all, Queulat National Park and Hanging Glacier can be easily visited on a day trip from Puyuhuapi, Chile.

Queulat National Park was established in 1983 and is about 1500 square kilometres in size. The park features two small ice caps and snow-capped mountains higher than 2,000 meters above sea level. It’s becoming an increasingly popular Patagonia national park to visit. That’s because of its easy accessibility and also because of its main drawcard – the Hanging Glacier AKA Ventisquero Colgante (in Spanish) and Queulat Hanging Glacier. I mean, a waterfall plummeting from a huge blue glacier! As it is, who doesn’t love a waterfall? Having one pour out from a hanging glacier is just absolutely ridiculous!

To be honest, we weren’t initially planning on visiting Hanging Glacier in Puyuhuapi, Chile. That was until we came across a photo of it. We were mesmerised and quickly changed our itinerary to include a visit to Puyuhuapi in Chile to explore the Hanging Glacier. The glacier is easily seen by doing the Hanging Glacier hike. But, more on that later.

Queulat National Park Entrance Fee

Before we dive deep into all of the best things to do in Queulat National Park, including visiting Hanging Glacier, let’s look at the entrance fee and opening hours. The Queulat National Park entrance fee is $9,000CLP/person ($10USD) for foreign nationals. For locals, it’s only $4,500CLP/person ($5USD).

When Beck and I visited in 2020, you could pay at the visitor centre upon entry. But, this isn’t allowed anymore. These days, you have to reserve your Queulat National Park ticket in advance on the official CONAF ticket sales system. Make sure to choose the Ventisquero Colgante area during the reservation process. Otherwise, you’ll miss out on seeing Hanging Glacier, one of Chile’s finest natural attractions.

Queulat National Park Opening Hours

Queulat National Park usually opens between 8:30–9am. It closes between 4:30–5pm. Also, it isn’t possible to visit Queulat National Park after 2:30pm.

Things to Do In Queulat National Park

There are plenty of amazing things to do in Queulat National Park. Other than epic hiking trails, there are opportunities for extra waterfall chasing. You can also do a boat trip to the base of the Hanging Glacier!

Keep in mind, that Queulat National Park has two main areas. The area around the main entrance is located near Puyuhuapi and is the most visited area. We’ll focus on attractions found in this area of the park. For completeness, we’ll also cover areas you can visit in the less explored southern part of the park found along the Carretera Austral.

Dan admires Hanging Glacier (Ventisquero Colgante), Queulat National Park in Puyuhupai, Chile

Queulat National Park Hikes

Certainly, one of the most popular activities at Queulat National Park is hiking. Below, we’ll talk about the best Queulat National Park hikes. Of course, we’ll start with the most popular hiking option – the one that visits Chile’s spectacular Hanging Glacier, near Puyuhuapi.

Hanging Glacier Trail (Sendero Ventisquero Colgante)

  • Type: Out & Back
  • Distance: 6.2km (3.85 miles)
  • Time: 2–3 hours
  • Accumulated elevation gain: 295m
  • Difficulty: Moderate
  • Trailhead: Ventisquero Colgante Trail Car Park
  • Map: AllTrails

Hanging Glacier Chile

It’s worth noting that the Hanging Glacier trail in Chile is officially rated as moderate difficulty. But, we found the trail quite simple. Along the way, you’ll enjoy splendid dense forest terrain. Overall, the walk shouldn’t take longer than 2–3 hours. Admittedly, arriving at Hanging Glacier is a huge reward for such minimal effort!

The viewing platform for the Hanging Glacier is fairly small. So, it gets crowded fairly quickly. With that in mind, if you’re arriving by bus, we recommend hiking there quickly for a more peaceful viewing of Chile’s Hanging Glacier. You then have ample time to walk back and complete some of the other much smaller walks around the entrance. We even did a bit of speed hiking on the way back to ensure we could fit in some of the other smaller trails before the shuttle bus returned to Puyuhuapi.

Other Queulat National Park Hiking Trails

Other than the main Hanging Glacier Trail, there are plenty of other shorter hikes to sink your teeth into. Let’s go through these below.

Dan and Beck at Hanging Glacier (Ventisquero Colgante), Queulat National Park in Puyuhupai, Chile

Laguna Témpanos Trail

  • Type: Out & Back
  • Distance: 1.3km
  • Time: 30 minutes
  • Accumulated elevation gain: 25m
  • Difficulty: Easy
  • Trailhead: Ventisquero Colgante Trail Car Park
  • Map: AllTrails

This short walk starts from the Ventisquero Colgante Trail Car Park. Like all trails in Queulate National Park, expect the trail to be muddy. The main point of interest on this walk is a lakeside viewpoint of Hanging Glacier. Indeed, the Laguna Témpanos Trail is the only trail taking you to a vantage point where you can see the Hanging Glacier from the lake’s edge. Additionally, there’s a cool wooden cross-bridge you’ll walk along to access the viewpoint of Chile’s Hanging Glacier.

The Aluvión Trail

  • Type: Loop
  • Distance: 320 metres
  • Time: 10 minutes
  • Accumulated elevation gain: 5m
  • Difficulty: Very easy
  • Trailhead: Ventisquero Colgante Trail Car Park
  • Map: AllTrails

The Aluvión Trail is an even shorter walk, exploring the gorgeous forest at Queulat National Park. This loop nears the river, whilst offering opportunities for bird watching. FYI – you won’t see the Hanging Glacier during this walk.

Mirador Panorámica Trail

  • Type: Out & Back
  • Distance: 450 metres
  • Time: 15 minutes
  • Accumulated elevation gain: 30m
  • Difficulty: Very easy
  • Trailhead: Ventisquero Colgante Trail Car Park
  • Map: AllTrails

The Mirador Panorámica Trail is another very short walk in Queulat National Park. You can see Hanging Glacier from the Mirador. But, the views are fairly average as you’ll be set so far back from the glacier. Definitely, for the best viewpoint of the Hanging Glacier in Puyuhupai, Chile, you should do the Hanging Glacier Trail.

Laguna Los Pumas Trail (Risopatron Lake)

  • Type: Out & Back
  • Distance: 10km
  • Time: 4–5 hours
  • Accumulated elevation gain: 945m
  • Difficulty: Moderate
  • Trailhead: Angostura
  • Map: AllTrails

The Laguna Los Pumas Trail starts in Angostura, which is about 10km north of Puyuhuapi, Chile. This walk doesn’t take place in the popular area of Queulat National Park near the main entrance. That means you shouldn’t be sharing this trail with too many other people. The walk starts by the beautiful Risopatron Lake and then leads to Los Pumas Lake (Laguna Los Pumas). Certainly, it’s an underrated walk.

The Enchanted Forest Trail (El Bosque Encantado)

  • Type: Out & Back
  • Distance: 3.5km
  • Time: 1–1.5 hours
  • Accumulated elevation gain: 275m
  • Difficulty: Easy
  • Trailhead: Carretera Austral (Bosque Encantado Sign)
  • Map: AllTrails

Located around 30km south of Hanging Glacier, you’ll find the Enchanted Forest, AKA El Bosque Encantado. This short trail explores a stunning forest that not many tourists have visited. Indeed, if you want to get off the beaten track, then add the Enchanted Forest Trail to your to-do list.

Waterfalls at Queulat National Park

Other than the exceptional waterfall plummeting from the Hanging Glacier, there are other waterfalls to explore in Queulat National Park. These two other waterfalls are called Salto El Condor and Salto del Padre Garcia. These waterfalls aren’t located in the popular area of the national park near the main entrance. So, expect to be waterfall chasing solo or with just a select few! In reality, though, you’ll need to get to these waterfalls by car or taxi.

Salto El Condor

  • Type: Out & Back
  • Distance: 300 metres
  • Time: 30 minutes
  • Accumulated elevation gain: 40m
  • Difficulty: Easy
  • Trailhead: Carretera Austral (near Bosque Encantado Sign)
  • Map: AllTrails

Salto El Condor is a beautiful waterfall that’s only a short walk from the Carretera Austral. An approx. 150 metre trail leads to a hidden waterfall. Certainly, we’d be surprised if you saw any other tourists here.

Salto del Padre Garcia

  • Type: Out & Back
  • Distance: 160 metres
  • Time: 15 minutes
  • Accumulated elevation gain: 10m
  • Difficulty: Very easy
  • Trailhead: Carretera Austral (see below)
  • Map: Wikiloc

Similar to Salto El Condor, Salto del Padre Garcia is a hidden waterfall tucked away in Queulat National Park. If anything, Salto del Padre Gracia is even less known than Salto El Condor. Despite Salto del Padre Garcia being relatively unknown, the waterfall is actually easily accessible. Now you know where to look, you’ll be exploring this waterfall near Puyuhuapi in Chile in no time.

Other Queulat National Park Attractions

As you’ve probably gathered by now, Queulat National Park has sensational hiking and waterfall chasing opportunities. But, there’s even more to explore. Let’s look at your other options below.

Beck and Dan at Hanging Glacier (Ventisquero Colgante), Queulat National Park in Puyuhupai, Chile

Laguna Témpanos Boat Trip

If you don’t want to do the Hanging Glacier hike or are looking for an extra activity, then consider the Laguna Témpanos boat trip. Personally, Beck and I didn’t do this boat trip. We were simply keen to do the walk to the viewpoint of the Hanging Glacier. But, for a reasonable $10,000CLP/person ($11USD), you can do a short 30 minute boat ride to the base of the Hanging Glacier falls. FYI – a minimum of four people are usually required for a trip.

Flora and Fauna

We’re not going to lie, the main event at Queulat National Park near Puyuhuapi in Chile is the Hanging Glacier. But, there’s plenty of beautiful native flora to enjoy along the way. In particular, you’ll find superb native ferns and beech trees along the Hanging Glacier Trail. In terms of fauna, it’s hard to look past the local birdlife. Indeed, if you’re a keen birdwatcher, then Queulat National Park will have you covered. If you’re lucky enough, you may see woodpeckers, kingfishers, hummingbirds, herons and condors.

Admittedly, you’re less likely to see other animals at the popular part of the park near the entrance. That’s because of the relatively high foot traffic. You’re more likely to come across foxes, deer and otters in the quieter southern part of the national park. On rare occasions, there have also been sightings of pumas!

How to Get to Queulat National Park

In terms of getting to Queulat National Park, there are quite a few options. Personally, we took a bus to the national park from Puyuhuapi, Chile. So, we’ll go through that option in detail. Otherwise, we’ll talk about your other options – the ranger’s car, bike, hitchhiking and driving there yourself.

Bus

We’ve read quite a few blogs refuting the existence of a dedicated return shuttle bus between Puyuhuapi and Queulat National Park. Personally, in February 2020, we certainly used a shuttle bus between the two places.

We arrived in Puyuhuapi around 8pm from Coyhaique. We then headed straight to Hostería Carretera Austral. Here, we were lucky enough to get the last two seats available on the return shuttle bus heading to the Queulat National Park the following day.

In 2020, the bus departed at 9am from outside Hostería Carretera Austral for $5,000CLP/person ($6USD) and returned at 3pm. We recommend buying your shuttle bus tickets ASAP after arriving in Puyuhuapi. But, if they are sold out, never fear! We saw a couple rock up in the morning wanting tickets. Because tickets were sold out for our shuttle bus, they were redirected to another shuttle bus service that had availability.

By taking the shuttle bus, you’ll then have enough time to scope out Hanging Glacier and complete the other short walking trails starting from the Ventisquero Colgante Trail Car Park.

FYI – the second bus option is to wait in the morning for a local bus going to a nearby town called Puerto Cisnes. You can ask the driver to drop you off at the entrance of Queulat National Park.

Ranger’s Car

Let’s be honest, this is a bit of a ballsy option. You can try your hand at rocking up in front of the Mi Sur restaurant (see map below) between 8 and 9am. Here, you should see the park’s ranger, who may give you a ride on their way to work for around $3,000CLP/person ($4USD). Of course, there are only a few spots in the ranger’s car!

Bike

Renting a bike in Puyuhuapi, Chile is always an option too. Just keep in mind, that you’ll need to do approx. 45km of roading cycling to get to and from Queulat National Park.

Hitchhiking

Hitchhiking is another option for getting to Queulat National Park. You’ll find hitchhiking is a fairly popular thing to do in Patagonia. So, expect some tourists to be hitchhiking their way to and from the park.

Car Hire

By far, the easiest and quickest way to get to Queulat National Park is to drive there yourself. Certainly, it’s hard to beat road trippin’ the Carretera Austral in Patagonia. From Puyuhuapi, you’ll drive around 22km south to reach the road entrance for the national park. You’ll turn left, eventually reaching the ticket office. The Ventisquero Colgante Trail Car Park is then just a little further ahead. This is where you’ll park and start the Hanging Glacier trail among other walking trails.

Car Hire

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How to Get to Puyuhuapi

Puyuhuapi is situated along the Carretera Austral in Chilean Patagonia. Certainly, Puyuhupai is the gateway to the Hanging Glacier. Unless you have a car hire, are cycling or hitchhiking, you’ll need to take a bus to get there. Of course, bus timetables are forever changing and information about schedules is difficult to near impossible to access online. We recommend visiting bus stations directly or emailing the bus companies to book your buses in advance. Below, we’ll talk about the typical bus routes to and from Puyuhuapi in Chile.

  • Heading north to get to Puyuhuapi, Chile: during a typical peak season, companies such as Buses Terraustral run a daily afternoon (3pm) service from Coyhaique to Puyuhuapi. This usually costs around $9,000CLP/person ($10.50USD). The bus takes around five hours. See Google Maps below for the bus station in Coyhaique.
  • Heading south to get to Puyuhuapi, Chile: bus companies such as Buses Terraustral usually leave Chaitén in the afternoon (4pm) on a few days of the week (e.g. Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays). The price is usually $6,000CLP ($7USD), whilst the journey time is around three hours.

Booking Buses

Busbud

Busbud is one of the best online bus booking platforms. Wherever you’re travelling, you can easily compare bus tickets from different companies and book the best option for your trip. We highly recommend using Busbud to find the cheapest bus fares.

More About Puyuhuapi, Chile

Puyuhuapi was initially settled by Germans in the 1930s. Admittedly, Puyuhuapi isn’t a typical tourist destination. The town itself is very small with just a few shops and restaurants.

In terms of stocking up on supplies, we recommend Nido de Puyes Minimercado. This minimarket was a fairly decent little store. That’s considering the diminutive size of the town! Most of the towns along the Carretera Austral are fairly small. It’s only Coyhaique that has a large Unimarc supermarket. After being in rural Patagonia for only a week or so, we were pleased to be able to visit a proper supermarket when arriving in Coyhaique. Beck and I were like two kids in a toy store!

FYI – there are no ATMs in Puyuhuapi!

Best Places to Stay In Puyuhuapi

Given Puyuhuapi is a small town, accommodation options are limited. Although there aren’t tonnes of hotels to choose from, there’s one excellent hotel option in Puyuhuapi, Chile. Puyuhuapi Lodge and Spa is the standout accommodation option. Featuring an outdoor thermal swimming pool, a spa and a gourmet restaurant, Puyuhuapi Lodge & Spa offers guests a phenomenal stay. In fact, getting to the lodge is fun in itself. That’s because it can only be accessed by boat!

A hotel in Puyuhuapi by water near Queulat National Park
A hotel in a luxurious hotel spa in Puyuhuapi by water near Queulat National Park
A room of a hotel

If you’re looking for a more budget-friendly option and want to actually stay in the town of Puyuhuapi in Chile, then we recommend Cabanas Senderos Puyuhuapi. Otherwise, the most popular option is Eco Cabañas Wanderlust, which is just outside of town.

Camping at Queulat National Park

Camping in Queulat National Park is possible. At the campsite, there are around a dozen pitches. Each pitch allows a vehicle, three tents and eight people. Camping at Queulat National Park costs around $6,000CLP/person ($5USD).

Another option is to camp in Puyuhuapi. La Sirena Camping is your best option for camping in town.

Queulat National Park Weather

True to Patagonia style, the weather at Queulat National Park can be unpredictable. Encountering rain and relatively low temperatures is very common in this part of the world. Make sure you have a quality waterproof jacket to keep you dry when hiking!

You’ll want to check the forecast before heading to the Hanging Glacier. Many unlucky tourists have been disappointed with their visit to the Hanging Glacier when the low-lying mist covered their view of the glacier.

Where to Go Next

After exploring Hanging Glacier, Queulat National Park and Puyuhuapi in Chile, where are you headed next? Will you head south to Coyhaique? Or, are you heading north to Chaitén and beyond? Check out our other Patagonia guides to help plan your travels.

In terms of departing Puyuhuapi, as far as we’re aware, there is no distinguishable bus station in Puyuhupai in town. But, buses stopped opposite Hostería Carretera Austral. Please see Google Maps below for clarification. With the town being so small, finding this spot is very easy.

  • Heading north from Puyuhuapi, Chile: usually, companies such as Buses Terraustral leave Puyuhuapi a few times during the week such as on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays. They usually depart early in the morning (approx. 6am) and the journey costs $6,000CLP/person ($7USD). This bus usually takes three hours.
  • Heading south from Puyuhuapi, Chile: usually, companies such as Buses Terraustral run a daily early morning service (e.g. 6–6:30am) from Puyuhuapi to Coyhaique. This costs $9,000CLP/person ($10.50USD). The journey takes around five hours. Again, you’ll have to visit the bus stations when you arrive or email ahead of time to be certain of timetables. Keep in mind that bus services become less frequent outside of peak season.

Travel Insurance

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Travel Insurance

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Other Information About Queulat National Park: FAQs​​​​

Below, we’ll cover other information about Queulat National Park by answering these frequently asked questions.

Where Is Queulat Hanging Glacier?

Hanging Glacier is located in Queulat National Park in Puyuhuapi, Chilean Patagonia.

When Is the Best Time to Go to Queulat National Park?

Generally speaking, the high season (January and February) brings with it the best weather in Patagonia. So, January and February are often considered the best times to visit Patagonia and Queulat National Park. But, of course, the weather in Patagonia is unpredictable. Always be prepared for four seasons in a day!

Is Queulat National Park Worth Visiting?

Yes, visiting the Hanging Glacier in the Queulat National Park will likely be a highlight of your trip to magnificent Patagonia. Indeed, it’s worth the effort to visit this hidden gem in Puyuhuapi along the Carretera Austral.

How Much Time Do I Need at Queulat National Park?

Many tourists will just spend one day at the national park to scope out Hanging Glacier. But, if you want to check out the less-explored southern part of Queulat National Park, we recommend an extra day or two.

Do I Need A Guide at Queulat National Park?

No, a guide isn’t necessary to visit the national park or Ventisquero Colgante.

Packing Essentials For Patagonia

Here are some travel essentials for your trip in Patagonia.

Anker Portable Power Bank
Anker Portable Power Bank

Keep your phone, laptop and other accessories charged while you’re on the go with the Anker Portable Power Bank. We wouldn’t travel without this high-quality portable charger.

Sea to Summit DryLite Towel
Sea to Summit DryLite Towel

The Sea to Summit DryLite Towel is the best quick-dry microfibre towel. This compact, lightweight and super-absorbent towel is perfect for travel.

EPICKA Universal Travel Adapter
EPICKA Universal Travel Adapter

Having an EPICKA Universal Travel Adapter is one of the best accessories to travel with, especially if you’re travelling to multiple continents during your trip.

Noise Cancelling Headphones
Noise Cancelling Headphones

If you’re looking for the most budget-friendly yet high-quality noise-cancelling headphones for travel, then look no further than the Anker Soundcore Space Q45.

Wise Multi-Currency Card
Wise Multi-Currency Card

We use the Wise Multi-Currency Card to pay online and when we travel abroad. It’s really easy to use and a lot cheaper than using bank cards. To order a free card, click the button below.

To find out more about all of the gear that we use and recommend, read our guides about our favourite travel gear, camera gear and hiking gear. Otherwise, read our comprehensive travel packing checklist.

Bonus Tips

  • Book buses in advance: usually booking your bus a day before departure will suffice. However, this can be difficult if you are busy exploring on that given day. We were able to reserve seats in advance by emailing contacto@busesterraustral.cl. We then paid for the reserved bus tickets in their office at the Coyhaique bus station for our return trip to Puyuhuapi.
  • Explore the Carretera Austral: this stretch of road is stunning. Indeed, if you get a chance, explore more of this area. It’s off the beaten track and more secluded. Other highlights to consider seeing would be the Marble Caves and Cerro Castillo.
  • Prepare for rain: take waterproof gear, you’ll thank us later!
  • Queulat National Park glacier collapse: in 2022, video footage was taken of the glacier partially collapsing. Certainly, go visit Ventisquero Colgante before it’s too late!

Hopefully, this guide has helped you wrap your head around organising a memorable trip to Queulat National Park. Have you been to the Hanging Glacier (Ventisquero Colgante) in Puyuhuapi recently? Is there any information we’re missing? Then let us know in the comments below.

Daniel Piggott

Physiotherapist turned travel blogger, Dan is a keen hiker, natural wonder seeker and world traveller. He loves writing travel guides to help his readers explore the most beautiful destinations in the world.

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