Written by Margarita Gross
Cochamó Valley is a small, 30.000 hectare narrow valley crossed by a pristine river, also called Cochamó (“where waters converge”) among the highlights of the valley are 8.000 hectares of alerce (a redwood that can grow up to 50 meters and live 3.000 years), and high granite walls that make it a world class rock climbing destination. Its ancient forests home an incredibly rich variety of fauna and its summits shelter condors, which can be seen flying quite clearly.
There is only one trail that leads into the valley, which was the only connection the settlers from the border with Argentina had with the Pacific Ocean for nearly one hundred years. Among the activities to do in the valley are:
- Rock climbing (world class destination, often compared to Yosemite Park in US)
- Trekking, mostly supported by horses. This allows you to enter millenary forests and discover very hard to reach places like the “arco” a arch-form rock formation that has a waterfall behind and alerces growing on top of it.
- Flora and fauna watching: this secluded forests home the smallest marsupial of South America, endemic only to this lands and gravely endangered; the smallest deer of the world (pudu pudu), condors, pumas, foxes, Darwin frogs (also exclusive of the temperate Valdivia rainforest), and an incredibly wide range of endemic flora, specially ferns and fungus, most of which haven’t been formally studied.
- Border crossing to Argentina by two passes, used only by the local settlers (it’s not a main frontier passage between both countries). There’s even a house belonging to a Chilean lady who has the border landmark on her backyard.
- Canoyning; the pools and waterslides created by the constant erosion of the water on the granite are the most amazing natural water park you can find in Patagonia.
Part of visiting the valley is also the contact with local people, who have lands and animals in their properties, specially the couple that lives up there (the only two who inhabit the valley all year round). One of the added values this territory has is that is not a massive destination –at least yet. Both the times I've been up in the valley have been great experiences, and can't wait to go back soon.
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