For those interested in geology and the natural world one of the highlights of the Palena region is the village of Chaiten. In 2008, the town was nearly wiped out by a long forgotten dormant volcano that was thought to be extinct. The surprise reawakening produced one of the strongest eruptions ever recorded over the last 100 years. While the town of Chaiten survived the initial series of eruptions, it stood directly in the way of lahars that flowed down the mountain after heavy rains. The Chilean government evacuated the town and was determined to see it abandoned but a few hundred residents refused to leave. Due to their determination the government changed course and decided to rebuild the town. The town is currently in the process of rebuilding but much of the devastation still remains from the 2008 eruption. Photos: Chaiten Eruption
Chaiten ruins walk (8 km, 5 mi)
After the 2008 eruption mud flows overflowed the old channel of the Rio Blanco and cut the town of Chaiten in half. The Chilean government has since committed to rebuilding the northern part of the town but the southern part still remains in its abandoned state. It is possible to walk through the ruins of the old town on the south side of the river and tour the new coastline and delta of the Rio Blanco. The walk is a testament to the power of nature and shows how volcanism is still shaping the Patagonia landscape. Photos: Chaiten Ruins
Chaiten Volcano (6 km, 3160 ft)
This truly unique climb makes for a great day-away hike and affords trekkers a spectacular experience of recent volcanism. This trek goes up the mountain through a charred forest, destroyed by the eruption. The summit itself is still smoking and often glows red hot at night. A spectacular apocalyptic landscape not to be missed!
Contact Nicolás La Penna, a local guide, to take you up the volcano at: Chaitur Excursions.
Photos here: Chile 2014
Chile Vacation Rental: Luxury Vacation Rental in Chilean Patagonia at Fundo Encantado, located just outside the picturesque village of Futaleufú. For families or groups desiring a more private and exclusive experience than the typical lodge or Futaleufu hotel can offer. © Fundo Encantado 2018.