Cerro Castillo: Cerro Castillo National Park (Chile)

Cerro Castillo: Cerro Castillo National Park (Chile)

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Cerro Castillo National Park is located in the Aysén Region of southern Chile, along the Carretera Austral. Named after the magnificent Cerro Castillo peak, its unique landscape contains hanging glaciers that form lagoons with bright turquoise waters.

Cerro Castillo

Cerro Castillo is located in the Aysén Region of southern Chile. Its magnificent rocky peak rises 2,675 m (8,776 ft) asl. This imposing castle of rock and ice is among the highest in the Patagonian Andes.

Situated approximately 75 km (46 mi) south of Coyhaique, the majestic mountain dominates the landscape with its small glaciers, snowdrifts, and blue lagoons.

The mountain's surrounding area contains a trekking circuit named one of the most beautiful in Chile. The 53.5 km (33.2 mi) Las Horquetas Trail System includes courses of low, medium, and high difficulty, durations between 1.5 hours and 7 hours, and lengths of 2.5 - 15.5 km (1.5 - 9.5 mi).

Cerro Castillo National Park

Cerro Castillo National Park is located south of Coyhaique, along the Carretera Austral. Established in 1970 as a National Reserve, in 2017, a decree was signed changing its category to National Park. Its total area is 138,164 ha (341,410 acres).

The National Park is named after the magnificent Cerro Castillo peak. Its unique landscape contains hanging glaciers that form lagoons with bright turquoise waters. Notable lagoons include Laguna Cerro Castillo and Laguna Chiguay.

It is made up of three independent sectors:

  • Lake Elizalde

  • Lake Paloma

  • Cerro Castillo

The park's northern portion is part of the Aisén River basin, and the southern portion is included in the Ibáñez River basin.

History

Originally named a national reserve in 1970, the formation of Cerro Castillo National Park stems from an agreement signed between the Chilean government and Tompkins Conservation in March 2018. It establishes the creation of five new national parks:

And the extension of three others:

Route of Parks

Cerro Castillo National Park is part of Chile's scenic 2,800 km (1,700 mi) "Route of Parks" that stretches from Puerto Montt in the north to Cape Horn in the south.

Spanning 17 national parks, the Route of Parks of Patagonia encompasses one-third of Chile and protects over 11.8 million hectares (28 million acres).

Route of Parks map

Chile's Route of Parks map - Thompson Conservation

Flora and Fauna

Deciduous forests make up much of Cerro Castillo National Park. However, five different vegetation types can be found here:

  • Andean Antiboreal Desert

  • Temperate Mediterranean Steppe

  • Andean Temperate Deciduous Forest

  • Andean Temperate Evergreen Forest

  • Vegas and Wetlands

The Lenga and Ñirre forests are home to Huemules or South Andean Deer (Hippocamelus bisulcus), an endangered species of deer native to the mountains of Argentina and Chile.

Also protected within the National Park are the Puma (Felis concolor), the Guanaco (Lama guanicoe), the Patagonian Chingue (Conepatus humboldti), and the culpeo fox or zorro colorado (Pseudalopex culpaeus), among others.

Notable birds that inhabit the area include the Austral parakeet, the Andean condor, the thorn-tailed rayadito, the Magellanic woodpecker, the chucao, and the Magellanic tapaculo.