The first destination in our Patagonia roundtrip was the relatively small Pali Aike National Park. Pali Aike National Park is located right at the Chilean border to Argentina, 26km northwest (by gravel road) of San Gregorio.
Along the way on the Ruta 9 we stopped at the Estancia San Gregorio ghost village, which is home to the shipwrecks of the Amadeo and the Ambassador. Especially the wreck of the Ambassador – a national monument of Chile since 1974 – looks really cool. Definitely worth a stop!
Entrance to the Pali Aike National Park was CLP 4,000 per person (as of December 30, 2019). Most of the area of the park is covered by a massive lava stream, which can be visited by an 8km round-tour hike. If you do the hike, you should definitely take the detours to the two volcanic craters that are along the route! And better take care not to fall into one of the 1-2m deep lava crevices, like I did… ?
There are three main stops in the park, which are connected by a gravel road. Our first stop, even before the hike, was the Pali Aike volcanic crater and cave. Inside the crater, there’s a very nice picnic spot with a fantastic scenic view. Along the 650m round way, info sheets provide background information on the native tribes of the area. It’s kind of cool to imagine that in the caves just next to the park bench, people had been eating their dinner already thousands of years ago. As we were eating our sandwiches, we were entertained by two hares who chased each other around the crater and passed by less then a meter away from us twice.
Unlike other national parks in Patagonia, Pali Aike is relatively free of tourists. The only other humans we met during our 5-hour stay were two couples who just arrived at the parking spot when we left, and the friendly park ranger at the entrance. Maybe due to the remoteness of the park, many of the park’s animals don’t seem to be afraid of humans at all. The hares at lunch definitely weren’t, and neither were the colorful lizards that hardly moved when we were taking photos of them. Near the end of our hike, a curious guanaco actively approached us – up to 15 meters –, and a bit later, two nandoos joined us for several hundred meters of the hike. Only the pumas living in the park stayed away from us.
Our last stop in Pali Aike National Park was the volcanic saltwater lake of Laguna Ana, which is an important resting stop for the birds in the area.
It was a bit difficult to find a place to stay near Pali Aike. We eventually reserved a room at the Restaurant y Hostal Pali Aike. This place neither has a website, nor does it appear on Booking.com, but you can contact them via Facebook to reserve a room.
Tomorrow, we’ll cross the border to Argentina and visit the large penguin colony at the Parque National Monte Léon. So much looking forward to it!