Coyhaique makes a great base for activities like hiking, fly-fishing, rafting and even winter skiing. Fishing probably tops the list, as the season runs November–May in the numerous lakes and rivers.
Among reliable operators are fly-fishing specialist Aisén Bridges Travel (tel./fax 067/233302, www.aisen.cl), which is easiest to contact by phone (English spoken); Andes Patagónicos (Paseo Horn 48, Local 11, tel. 067/216711, www.andespatagonicos.cl); Expediciones Coyhaique (Portales 195, tel./fax 067/232300, www.expecoy.es.vg), also fly-fishing-oriented; Cóndor Explorer (Dussen 357, tel. 067/670349, www.condorexplorer.com); U.S.-run, Puerto Bertrand-based Patagonia Adventure Expeditions (Riquelme 372, tel./fax 067/219894, www.adventurepatagonia.com), a trekking, fishing, and white-water operator that also offers rafting and kayaking on the Río Simpson; and Cochrane-based U.S.-Chilean Salvaje Corazón (tel. 067/211488, fax 067/237490, www.salvajecorazon.com), also best contacted by phone (English, Hebrew, Portuguese, and some French also spoken).
Nearly all first-time visitors to the disorienting pentagonal Plaza de Armas, where 10 streets radiate like spokes from a hub, get lost returning to their hotels. Bewildered walkers can blame founder Luis Marchant González, a policeman who decided in 1929 that the Carabineros’ five-sided badge made an ideal city-planning template. Recently relandscaped, the plaza still boasts many mature trees, but the sightlines are better and new fountains add a touch of distinction.
The Museo Regional de la Patagonia, recently relocated to new quarters in the Casa de la Cultura (Eusebio Lillo 23, tel. 065/213174), documents regional history through a well-presented series of historical photographs and early settlers’ household implements. Hours are 9 a.m.–9 p.m. daily in summer, 8:30 a.m.–1 p.m. Monday–Saturday and 3–7 p.m. weekdays the rest of the year. Admission is US$0.60.
Nearby, on the Baquedano median strip, the Monumento al Ovejero commemorates Aisén’s pioneer sheep farmers. The series of statues consists of a mounted shepherd, his flock, and his dogs.
© Wayne Bernhardson from Moon Chile, 2nd edition