09 Jul Cerro Castillo National Park
It is a park with several species of animals, such as the Huemul (a kind of deer), the Cougar, Fox, different kinds of birds, among others.
You can also appreciate some native trees such as Lenga and Ñire, which turn into orange colors in the autumn. There are some flowers during spring and summer and some native berries such as Murtilla, Chaura, and Calafate.
Chaura and Huemul in National Park Cerro Castillo
In this park, you have various places where you can drink natural water directly from streams. You can also refresh your face with this cold water, very refreshing when there are high temperatures.
Climate could be unpredictable. It could be very warm during summer, and it can suddenly snow, yes, even in summer.
When snow covers the trail, then the park closes until the snow melts and the trails are visible again.
In this park, they are several trails that you can follow and that may take you on an unbelievable journey. They are hard treks, but completely worth the effort.
The colors of the lagoons around Cerro Castillo are magical, like none you have ever seen before. They are so vibrant that you even think they are radioactive. The color of the water that you can see in pictures is not able to represent its natural beauty.
The longest trek is designed to last for 4 days, during which you must camp, and it is called “Travesía Las Horquetas”. Since I like lagoons very much and that, when I went, the long trail was restricted and it was only allowed to go with a official guide, I decided to go on two trekkings for the day: “Trekking to Cerro Castillo Lagoon” and “Trekking to Duff Lagoon”.
They are both special, one difference is that you must walk longer to get to Duff Lagoon. But I cannot pick one over the other to recommender in case you only have time to do one of them.
I will share my experience in each one of them, next, so you can decide for yourself. I hope you enjoy this destination.
Cerro Castillo Lagoon
The starting point will vary if you go by car, 4×4, or on foot. If you go by car, you must take the road “Arroyo El Bosque”, park in km 3 and walk 1 more km until the entrance to the trail (there is a green metal door) located at the right side of the road. In case you bring a 4×4, you can drive into the parking that is after entering through the green door.
Once there, you should walk towards the CONAF tent where you will give your data, fill, and sign some papers and pay for the corresponding fee.
From this point, you will walk around 14km round trip. If you go on foot, you should consider the extra 8km that you will need to get to the entrance, from the beginning of the road.
The trek from the entrance to the Cerro Castillo Lagoon can take around 4 hours at normal speed.
At first, you will walk over a well-marked trail through the woods, where you can see some cows. You will pass a small lagoon, some small bridges of wood, and walk-up almost all the time uphill. You will be able to see beautiful views of Villa Cerro Castillo, river Ibañez, and some lakes.
You will arrive at another tent of CONAF, where they will ask for the invoice number of the payment you made and will give you some indications about how much is left, where you can drink water for the last time, and the time you should return.
In the last part, you will have to walk over rocks, a trail not too difficult and well-marked, but you will be probably tired at this level.
Finally, you will be able to reach the lagoon, but first, you will be able to look at the impressive glacier in Cerro Castillo, which summit is 2675 meters high.
You will reach a cumulative drop of 1364 meters when you reach the lagoon.
If you are lucky, it is possible that you can see some “Huemules”, if you did not see them in a certain part of the Carretera Austral, where you are most likely to see them.
Also, you should consider that there is an opening time, around 7:30 a.m., a top entry time at about 1 p.m., and a top staying time in the lagoon is around 4 p.m. At least it was this way when I went. Be sure to check this information before planning the trekking.
Finally, enjoy your amazing view and celebrate your goal achieved!
To visit the Duff Lagoon for the day, you should walk or drive for about 5-6 km on road “Arroyo El Bosque”, you will see an entrance with a wood sign “Travesía Las Horquetas – Estero Parada”. Once there, you should walk to the CONAF tent and pay the entrance fee.
The path is clear, and you should follow it through the woods. You will enter the park, pass through camping where you can use a dry bath and drink some water in the nearby river, get to the “Estero Parada” where you will have a 360 view of various mountains including Cerro Castillo. This is a nice spot to make a small stop before continuing.
From here, you must figure out where is the path, once found, you will cross a small wood after which you will finally start to walk through the path of rocks.
Once here, the path is not well marked as the one to go to Cerro Castillo Lagoon, so you will have to follow the “hitos”or milestones, which are a series of rocks align in a pile arranged to mark the trail you should follow in order to get to the Duff Lagoon.
When you understand the dynamic of this, you should just follow the marks that CONAF guides left for you, remember to help others with this if some of them fall or are confusing. Eventually, you will get to your destination and be able to contemplate this amazing lagoon.
The color of the water is emerald green. Once here, you can decide what to do with your time and take a lot of pictures 😊
The whole trekking will take about 28 km if you leave your car in km 3 and 6 more km if you go by foot. In my case, with several stops to take photographs and walking at a slow pace, it took me a total of 12 and a half hours. This trekking is longer and probably harder than the trekking to Cerro Castillo Lagoon.
If you are willing to wake up early to take this long walk and get to this Lagoon, go for it! It is totally worth it! Remember that you can also sleep in the camping and do it in a 2-day walk. If you decide to stay for the night, you should be prepared and pay a different fee at the entrance.
Author’s Additional Comments
I did not know the Duff Lagoon existed. I am glad that the person that was taking me to do the Cerro Castillo trek did not know where the new entrance of the trek was, so we walked and walked and ended at the entrance of the other trek. Once there we had to decide between going back or going to the Lagoon Duff.
We made the right choice and I was able to visit this amazing lagoon.
Visiting Hours and Fees
Routes in Suda:
Visit the Confluence of the Baker River with Neff and Los Maquis WaterfallCarretera Austral, Chile, Patagonia, Southview