Hornopirén (Río Negro)
At La Arena, 45 kilometers southeast of Puerto Montt, the mouth of the Estuario de Reloncaví interrupts the graveled Carretera Austral, but frequent ferries cross the water to Puelche and continue to Hornopirén (also known as Río Negro), 48 kilometers farther south. Hornopirén (population 6,583) is the access point for its little-visited namesake national park, only a few kilometers to the east; it is also the northern port for the summer vehicle/passenger ferry to Caleta Gonzalo and Parque Natural Pumalín.
Parque Nacional Hornopirén
Only a short distance east of town, Parque Nacional Hornopirén is an almost totally undeveloped 48,232-hectare park surrounded by several volcanoes, including 1,210-meter Apagado, 1,572-meter Hornopirén, and 2,187-meter Yates. Access is difficult, though, because of bad roads.
Accommodations and Food
Rates at aging but charming Hotel Hornopirén (Ignacio Carrera Pinto 388, tel. 065/217256, US$10 pp with shared bath) include breakfast; lunch and dinner are optional. In addition, there’s a cluster of inexpensive hospedajes opposite the ferry ramp, as well as the more developed Hostería Catalina (Ingenieros Militares s/n, tel. 065/217359, www.hosteriacatalina.cl, US$17 pp with shared bath, US$37/44 d with private bath).
At the ferry ramp, several simple cocinerías prepare fresh fish for those awaiting the Mailén.
From Puerto Montt, Buses Jordán (tel. 065/254938) and Kemelbus each go to Hornopirén (US$5.50, three hours) five times daily except Sunday, when they go only twice. In summer, the scheduled 2:30 p.m. departures from Hornopirén wait for the ferry from Caleta Gonzalo.
Both buses and private vehicles must cross from La Arena to Puelche over the Estuario de Reloncaví, where Naviera Paredes (tel. 065/286490) shuttles the ferries Quellonina and Trauco 7:15 a.m.–9:30 p.m. The half-hour voyage costs US$14 for cars, US$17 for light trucks, US$9 for motorcycles, US$5 for bicycles; passengers pay US$1.50 per person.
In January and February only, Naviera’s Austral’s ferry Mailén (tel. 099/9397895) sails daily from Hornopirén to Caleta Gonzalo (five hours) at 3 p.m. Passengers pay US$17 pp, while cyclists pay an extra US$11 and motorcyclists US$22. Automobiles and light trucks pay US$108, while larger vehicles cost US$29 per linear meter. It’s possible that this service may leave from Pichicolo, about 15 kilometers west of Hornopirén, in the future.
© Wayne Bernhardson from Moon Chile, 2nd edition