The Hanging Glacier Falls in Puyuhuapi, as known by the gringos, is a hidden gem situated in the Queulat National Park. The actual name of the falls are the Cascada de Ventisquero Colgante. They’re found along the Carretera Austral in Chilean Patagonia. The natural landscape here is easily on par with the lovely scenery encountered on the W Trek.
Puyuhuapi Hanging Glacier Falls | Day Trip
Whose doesn’t love a waterfall? Having one pour out from a hanging glacier was very cool! To be honest, we had already finished planning our Patagonia trip when we came across a photo of the falls. We were mesmerised! It wasn’t ideal but we decided to change our itinerary. So we had to rebook a flight and rebook accommodation. Calling lastminute.com to change the date of our flight from Balmaceda to Puerto Montt was a nightmare. But eventually it was changed at no extra cost.
Just to make clear, there is also hanging glacier falls in Bariloche known as Castaño Overa. Beck and I were lucky enough to visit them after our trip here. But anyway, here’s our guide on how to visit the hanging glacier falls in Puyuhuapi.
- Type: Out & Back
- Distance: 6.2km
- Time: 2-3 hours
- Accumulated elevation gain: 294m
- Difficulty: Medium
- Trailhead: Ventisquero Colgante Trail Car Park
As graded by the Queulat National Park
Ventisquero Colgante trail: From town, the bus will initially stop at the entrance to pay the National Park fee of $8,000CLP/person ($9USD) for foreign nationals. You will then reboard and be dropped off at the start of the hike around 10-10:30am. This is more than enough time to complete the fairly easy although sometimes muddy 6.2km return hike. Although it’s worth noting that the trail is officially rated as medium difficulty. But we found the trail quite simple with the odd agility needed to tackle the forest type terrain. Overall, the walk shouldn’t take longer than 2-3 hours. It’s a huge reward for such minimal effort!
Also, the viewing platform for the falls is fairly small and can easily overcrowd. So if arriving by bus, we would recommend you hike there quickly for more peaceful viewing. You then have ample time to stroll back and even complete some of the other much smaller walks around the entrance. These are nothing to write home about. But you will definitely have time to kill waiting for the return bus.
Encountering rain is very common in this part of the world. Make sure you have a quality waterproof jacket to keep dry when hiking. For suggestions on what waterproof hiking gear, visit our 66 Items You Must Travel With guide.
Puyuhuapi Hanging Glacier Falls Recap
Visiting the Hanging Glacier Falls in the Queulat National Park will likely be a highlight of your trip to magnificent Patagonia. It’s definitely worth the effort to visit this hidden gem in Puyuhuapi along the Carretera Austral. Hopefully, this guide has helped you wrap your head around organising a memorable trip here.
Getting to Puyuhuapi
Bus: The town is situated along the Carretera Austral. It’s the gateway to the hanging glacier falls. Take a bus to get there. That’s if you don’t have your own set of wheels. See Google Maps below for the bus station in Coyhaique.
- Heading north to Puyuhuapi: As of February 2020, in peak season, Buses Terraustral run a daily 3pm service from Coyhaique to Puyuhuapi. This costs $9,000CLP ($10.50USD). It arrives around 8pm. Bus timetables quickly change, so visit their website for the latest. Please find the link above.
- Heading south to Puyuhuapi: Buses Terraustral leave Chaitén at 4pm on Mondays, Wednesdays & Fridays. Price is $6,000CLP ($7USD). It arrives in Puyuhuapi around 7pm.
Getting to the Queulat National Park
Bus: Even some very recent blogs seemed to refute the existence of a dedicated shuttle bus that goes to and from the Queulat National Park. However, as of February 2020, we can assure you that such a bus does exist. At least during peak season.
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 2 seats available on the bus heading to the National Park the following day.
The bus departs at 9am from outside their shop for $5,000CLP/person ($6USD) and returns at 3pm. So 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 they were sold out, they were redirected to another shuttle bus service that had availability.
Accommodation in Puyuhuapi
Accommodation options are limited: Using Booking.com, we booked a private room with a shared bathroom for 2 people at Hostal Scarlett for $53USD for 2 nights. Feel free to use our link to book. Puyuhuapi is a tiny town with not many options. This was the cheapest we could find booking about 3 weeks in advance. Please note that there was no Airbnb in Puyuhuapi.
The place was warm and cosy with a kind host. Conveniently, there is a restaurant downstairs. There were no cooking facilities here. Because we arrived late, we decided to splurge and ordered the local Chilean dish – Chorrillana for $10,000CLP ($11.50USD). We tried this meal again in Santiago and in comparison, was admittedly fairly average here!
STORY TIME: Funnily enough, they didn’t take payment upon our arrival. We had honestly forgotten about this also. So upon leaving 2 mornings later, we realised we hadn’t even paid. They had messaged us the night before through the Booking.com message centre. But we had already fallen asleep. So we left money under a book at the restaurants reception area. Later on, we had confirmation that they had received our payment. Phew!
Getting out of Puyuhuapi
Bus: Please note that as far as we are aware, there is no distinguishable bus station. However, buses stopped opposite Hostería Carretera Austral. Please see Google Maps below for clarification. With the town being so small, finding this is very easy.
- Heading north from Puyuhuapi: Buses Terraustral leave Puyuhuapi on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays at 6am for $6,000CLP ($7USD). They arrive in Chaitén around 9am.
- Heading south from Puyuhuapi: Buses Terraustral run a daily 6:20am service from Puyuhuapi to Coyhaique. This costs $9,000CLP ($10.50USD). It arrives around midday. But again, check the website to guarantee bus departure details. They become less frequent outside of peak season.
Where to Buy Supplies
Nido de Puyes Minimercado: This mimimarket 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 into Coyhaique. So we were like 2 kids in a candy store!
- Bus to Puyuhuapi: $9,000CLP/person ($10.50USD).
- The National Park return shuttle bus: $5,000CLP/person ($6USD).
- The National Park entrance fee: $8,000CLP/person ($9USD).
- Accommodation: $40,100CLP ($53USD) for 2 people.
- Bus out of Puyuhuapi: $9,000CLP/person ($10.50USD).
- Food: $11,500CLP/person ($15USD).
= $58,000-61,500CLP/person ($75-80USD)
Five Hiking Essentials for Puyuhuapi
- Merrell Moab 2 Mid Goretex hiking boots – we hiked in wet conditions so we were grateful for the Merrell Moab 2s traction on the slippery terrain.
- The North Face TKA Glacier snap fleece jacket – can get pretty cold in this neck of the woods.
- The North Face Venture 2 waterproof/windproof jacket – it rains here frequently so you’ll need a waterproof jacket.
- Columbia water repellent convertible hiking trousers – very handy in wet conditions.
- Osprey Skarab 30L Day Backpack – our go-to day backpack for hiking.
To be fully prepared, consider downloading a GPS guided map before you set out. We recommend Wikiloc or AllTrails. For those not so prepared, if you’re needing navigation help during the hike and don’t have any phone reception, consider using Maps.me. Although you need to have at least downloaded the map of the general area beforehand.
- 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 firstname.lastname@example.org. We then paid for the reserved bus tickets in their office at the Coyhaique bus station for our return trip to Puyuhuapi. This ensures you can crack on with your adventures. This is because all your bus tickets already sorted.
- Explore the Carretera Austral: This stretch of road is stunning. 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!
Have you been to the Hanging Glacier Falls in Puyuhuapi recently? Is there any information we’re missing? Let us know in the comments below.
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