May 15 2018

5 best-kept secrets of Chilean Patagonia


In a trip, locals will always be the best source of information for travelers.

And Chilean Patagonia is not the exception.

Tourists often move around the main tourist attraction, often overlooking places that are very interesting, although unknown.

If you like to know the B-side of the destinations you visit, and you don't want to do what the rest of the tourists does, here are some of the best-kept secrets of Chilean Patagonia for you to discover.


1-Monte Verde

It is a place that you probably won't find in any guidebook because it doesn’t have the necessary infrastructure to receive visitors. Even more, very few people know about this site since its discovery 40 years ago.

Monte Verde is approximately 30 kilometers southwest of the city of Puerto Montt. It could be the oldest archaeological site in America, where archaeologists discovered objects that are more than 14,000 years old.

American anthropologist and archaeologist Tom Dillehay made the discovery along with a group of Chilean scientists from Universidad Austral in 1977.

There, they found hunting objects, architectural elements, animal bones, fire remains and even some human footprints.

The finding, however, causes significant controversy until today because several researchers question its validity. The reason is that the discovery of Monte Verde forfeits the most accepted theory so far about human settlement of the American continent.

Before Monte Verde, there was a consensus in the scientific community about the first inhabitants in the continent: the Clovis. This group inhabited what is now the state of New Mexico (United States), and its origins can be traced back to 11,200 years ago.

Currently, the site of Monte Verde is managed privately, so you need to coordinate visits beforehand.


2- Sofia Lagoon

Where do locals from Puerto Natales spend their summer? Probably they do not want many tourists to know where they find a bit of peace during high season.

Sofia Lagoon is 30 kilometers north of the city, between the Señoret mountain range and the Benitez hill.

There, local practice sports, fishing or dive into the cold turquoise waters of the lagoon. And when winter comes, they to this area to go hiking to get the best view of the place and the condors that live there.


3-Curanto en hoyo

A classic dish in Chiloé island is the curanto in a pit.

This is a somewhat unique preparation: people make a hole in the ground and use hot stones, and steam to cook the food; seafood, meats, vegetables and potato preparations like the milcao (potato pancake) and chapalele (made of potatoes, flour, and water).

This technique takes some time. It’s almost a ritual. And it’s not an easy preparation; must be done in the open so only a few places offer this dish. What is more, a minimum of 5 people is required. This is the reason you’ll find that most restaurants cook the curanto in a pot, a simpler version.

For you to enjoy a delicious curanto in a pit go to the open kitchens in Dalcahue (25 kilometers north of the city of Castro), located inside a building shaped like a ship “floating” above the sea. There, you’ll find 20 eating open kitchens offering a wide array of hearty dishes.

Close to this food court is the Craft Fair of Dalcahue, where you will find miniatures of original Chiloe architecture like houses with wooden tiles and the churches.


4-Molino Machmar Arts Center

Only are few places are dedicated to the dissemination of the local culture in the city of Puerto Varas. One of them is the Molino Machmar Arts Center (CAMM).

Besides the art exhibitions, the place also stands out for its architecture; an old mill restored to house this Cultural Center.

Local musicians, artists exhibitions, and all sorts of workshops can be found here. It also hosts the only cinema in the city, where people go to watch films and documentaries.



On the road between Puerto Guadal and the town of Chile Chico, there is a place where you can see remarkable petroglyphs.

The site is not part of any official tour itinerary nor is it marked with signs, so you'll have to resort to the help of locals to locate it.

They are located just 10 meters from the road, in a cave that supposedly housed the original inhabitants of the island.

The road to get there has many curves and cliffs, although it offers some of the most beautiful views of the General Carrera Lake.



If you don’t conform with the standard tourism alternatives that travel agencies offer, make sure that you speak with the locals and ask for the best travel tips as soon as you get to Chilean Patagonia.

All cities and destinations in Patagonia have hidden secrets only known by its inhabitants. You could be one of the few lucky tourists to discover them.

And if you want to know more on how to tour Patagonia like a local, check out this blog.

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All cities and destinations in Chilean Patagonia have hidden secrets. You could be one of the few lucky tourists to discover them.