"Explore, learn, give, discover...wander"

Cochamó Trail Project

Custom Dates: March & December

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For Reservations / Information Call Stewart Toll Free: 1-866-701-2113

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Duration: 10 Days
Location: Cochamo Valley, Patagonia Chile; meeting place PM Day 1 Puerto Montt Airport, Chile.
Price starting at: $ TBA Please Call Us for Pricing.
Program Type: Service Learning, Active, Lodge-Based.
Difficulty: 6  (Strenuous) Scale is 1 – 7.
Meals: Included.

Volunteer Project For Trail Improvement in the Cochamo Valley, Patagonia Chile

Cochamó Valley Trail Improvement:  Voluntourism  at its finest.


The Cochamó Valley and Northern Patagonia

This is one of the most accessible areas in all of the Patagonian Region, and yet still quite wild and free.

Chile’s Cochamó Valley in Northern Patagonia is not only one of the most accessible destinations in the Patagonia region, it is also one of the most beautiful, verdant, and inviting places in a region already known for its wild nature.The Cochamó Valley has obtained a rare and precious state of recognition and protection for its untrammeled state, the lush Valdivian Rainforest Complex, and the dynamite exposures of Andean Granite, peaks that soar to 4000 feet from the valley floor. Join us for a week-long trekking and trail improvement edventure / voluntour.   The trails that access to Cochamó Valley are in need of a lot of TLC and we hope that you will come not only to enjoy the wildness of the place and its special beauty but also to lend a hand in improving access and signage for hikers, horseback riders, and climbers.

The Valley of Cochamó has been impacted by more than 100 years of pastoral activities that preceded its establishment as a trekking and climbing destination.  The stock that moved up and down the valley seasonally have left deep troughs for trails, the walls of dark, rich earth sometimes tower over hikers heads.  Other stretches contain soupy, half-floating boardwalks over calf-deep mud.  Hikers have established social trails that thread around these obstacles and these need to be better established and fortified for navigability and safety.

Cochamó is also an adventure destination. The towering granite peaks of the inner valleys are ripe for exploration. Climbing, trekking and rock scrambling up from the valley provide hearty trekkers with Andean vistas across a wide region. Our hosts are the owners of the Refugio Cochamó, wide decks, a loving kitchen, and hot showers.

Science and Significance -- The Valdivian rainforest is a temperate zone that contains immense Redwoods, Nothofagus, and many other unique and enchanting native trees and shrubs. It is a wilderness of lovely, exotic birdsong and clear running streams. And it is a perfect outdoor classroom for studying the unique biodiversity of the UNESCO World Heritage Valdivian Rainforest Complex.  The exposures of Andean granite offer opportunities for geology studies in plutonic activity, vulcanism, and glaciology.  The littoral zones of the fjord that marks the beginning of the expedition has its own unique fauna and issues.  The biology of the region includes rare species of deer, felines, canis, marsupials and an endemic birdlife that will make your binoculars throb.

CURRICULUM -- Chile and Chilean Culture; Northern Patagonia Geography and History; Mapuche Indigenous Cultures; Chilean Toponymy; The Valdivian Rainforest Complex; Botany of Alerces and Nothofagus species; Geology of Andean Formation and Modern Volcanic Terranes;  The Cochamó Valley and the Puelo Region, its protection and challenges; Trail Maintenance Basics; Chilean Backcountry Cuisine.

Project Itinerary

Day 1 Arrive to Puerto Varas

Shuttle Airport to Inn: ½ Hour from Puerto Montt.

Meet your Trip Leader / Field Educator and check in to hotel. After you settle into our nice lodgings and get a chance to rest a bit and perhaps take in the sights of Puerto Varas, a lovely small town on the shores of Lake Llanquihue you will meet for a short orientation meeting and then depart for dinner of delicious Chilean fare in a great local restaurant.

Day 2 Head To Cochamó and Trailhead

Today we will drive along Lake Llanquihue and enter Secret Patagonia, the beginning of the Southern Highway system, the Carretera Austral. Our associates in Cochamó will meet us at the trailhead and we will begin hiking up the 10 kilometers of pioneer’s trail that allows access to the interior valleys. Along the way not only will we be inspecting the trail for improvements that need to be effected, we will also revel in the lush forests of Nothofagus and Ulmo and thick canebrakes of the Valdivian Forest. We will take short side hikes to the roaring cascades of the Cochamó River and exemplary stands of old-growth as part of the field study.  Late in the afternoon we'll arrive at the main valley and set up camp in the wide basin ringed by granite spires that will be our home for the week.

Day 3 Getting to Know and Love Cochamó

Today we will ascend the famed Arcoiris Trail to an amazing overlook of the Valley in order to get an overview of the geography of the valley and assess trail repair needs. Today we get to explore and learn to appreciate this jewel of the Andes. In the evening after a fine meal will work a little on producing signage and familiarizing ourselves with the implements of trail repair and study maps of the targeted zones we will be improving throughout the next few days and projects.

Days 4-9 Trail Improvements and Cochamó Exploration

Our detail will be assigned to specific improvement projects. We will hike approximately 7 kilometers per day. We often have ready access to horses and stock for transport of equipment, tools, and raw materials. Don’t envision yourself lugging chainsaws and blocks of wood on your back. Expect to be either employing shovels, hand saws, trimmers, block and tackle, router, and/or painting supplies as we tackle signage needs, brush trimming, log placements, hiker trail routefinding and crew support. There is room in our detail for all kinds of talents, we welcome what you can bring to the table! Also expect plenty of ‘hike breaks’ where we can study the hidden niches of this lush forest for what it has to teach us.  Dense rainforest yields suddenly to expansive vistas, and exploring off trail will give us a chance to discover some of the unique wildlife here.

While some of the work required will be strenuous, there are also many light-duty options and support crew assignments that means we welcome all able hikers.

Day 10 Return to Puerto Montt and evening Flights home.
Our last couple of days we will be working on the portions of the trail closer to the trailhead and will camp within an easy hike on day 10 to the vehicles and then return to Puerto Montt for evening flights or extended stays in the region.

Wanderland NFP and the Cochamó NFP are dedicated to providing you a learning experience along with your travel and service to this region. Expect your guides to provide you with excellent materials and background to the region and to the specific area where you visit. Natural History, Geology, Geography, Biology, Ecology, and Language Immersion are all in the outdoor classroom of Cochamó.

Travel, Transportation, Meeting and Lodging

Travel: International Flights from the US to Santiago, Chile are available through American, Continental, Delta and LAN Chile. National Flights through LAN from Santiago to Puerto Montt depart several times each day.

Gateway Cities: International arrivals to Santiago, Chile. Puerto Montt Chile for National flights. Puerto Varas, Chile for national bus travel.

Shuttle: We do our best to meet you at your arrival to Puerto Montt.  Otherwise, Regular shuttle and taxi services from the airport to Puerto Varas are easily arranged at the Puerto Montt Airport.

Meeting Time and Place: PM in TBA Hotel in Puerto Varas, Chile on the first itinerary day of the trip.

Transportation to and From The Trailhead: This is handled by our staff and is included in the price of the trip.

Pre-Trip and Post-Trip Recommended Lodging: Contact us for suggestions of hotels or hosterias and activities in Santiago, Puerto Montt, and Puerto Varas.

Car Rentals: Auto rentals for days that you spend prior to and after the trip can be arranged at the Puerto Montt Airport

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