Founded in 1966, under the Frei Montalva administration, the frontier outpost of Villa Cerro Castillo is finally acquiring an air of permanency, though its exposed site makes it one of the Carretera Austral’s bleaker settlements. Just south of here, 89 kilometers from Coyhaique , the pavement ends and the gravel begins. Hikers who begin the trek through Reserva Nacional Cerro Castillo  at Las Horquetas will exit the reserve here.
Five kilometers south of town, via a lateral off the highway, the positive and negative hands of the pre-Columbian rock art at Alero de las Manos resemble those of the famous Argentine site at Cueva de las Manos.
Beneath a volcanic overhang, the paintings differ in that they are fewer, younger (only about 3,000 years old), and include no animals. In some cases, rocks have split from the overhang and fallen to the ground, probably concealing even more images.
Alero de las Manos (admission US$1.30 pp including a guided tour) is open 10 a.m.–6 p.m. daily. There’s a small visitors center with clean toilets.
Though improving, accommodations other than inexpensive campgrounds are limited and fill up fast. All of them use the same community telephone (tel. 067/419200) for messages.
Hospedaje El Castillo (O’Higgins 522, US$5 pp) is only adequate, while Pensión Andreita (Carlos Ibáñez del Campo 297, US$6.50 pp) is cheap enough and has lots of blankets but also lumpy beds and pretty awful food. Hospedaje Villarrica (US$9 pp) has upgraded its rooms and has a cheerful new restaurant.
The slightly dearer Hospedaje La Querencia (O’Higgins 522, US$9 pp) has firm beds, good food, and improved bathroom facilities (all of them shared).
Open long hours November–March only, the helpful Oficina de Información Turística (O’Higgins s/n) provides a town map and list of services.
All leaving around 7 a.m., several minibus services connect Cerro Castillo with Coyhaique  (US$6.50, 1.5 hours); all regularly scheduled services between Coyhaique, to the north, and Puerto Río Tranquilo  and Cochrane , to the south, pass by the entrance to town.