The magic of Chiloe extends itself through the whole island. From the north, passing along its beautiful towns, to the indomitable south, dominated by its virgin and unexplored nature. It is in this far and distant place where we find Tantauco Park, a nonprofit conservation project open to the community, which seeks to preserve and protect the native ecosystems and species. With a unique beauty, this remote park offers the possibility to trek more than 130 km of trails to explore the wonders of this region.This article addresses one of the most challenging and attractive routes in the park: the Caleta Zorra route.Share this destination:
Duration: 7 days
Distance: 82 km
Physical Difficulty: Medium/High
Technical Difficulty: Medium
AccessThe park has 2 access points. The northern access is accessible by land, where you can reach the Yaldad lake sector by car and advance to the Chaiguata lake sector. There is a signalized detour to the park in Route 5 (main road that crosses the island), 14 km north of the city of Quellon. From this point, you have to continue 18 km over a dirt road to the Yaldad entrance, and then another 20 km to Chaiguata lake, where you will find a campsite, domes and the starting point of the Caleta Zorra route. Although it is possible to drive over the dirt road with a regular car (carefully), jeeps and vans are a better choice. There is no public transportation to the park. The trip from Quellon to Chaiguata takes 2-3 hrs (one way) and 3-4 hrs from Castro (one way).The southern access to the park is Caleta Inio, the most isolated locality on the island. This point is accessible only by sea or air. You must NOT enter the park in this point if you plan to do the Caleta Zorra route.The RouteThis route has an expected time of 7 days. The main obstacle is its physical demand, because of the terrain in which you have to walk as well as the long distances that have to be covered. Not having any mountain pass or important ascent may lead to underestimate this route. The trail, well sign-posted and marked, is however very tiring since it passes through areas of mud, branches, fallen trees and bog, where you will have to be constantly careful where you step. As a reference, people that have made the full Torres del Paine circuit (8 days) consider Caleta Zorra a tougher route.The park has excellent signalling and the trails are well marked. The park also has several refuges to avoid camping in such a rainy region as Chiloe. To do the proposed route you must pay for the Caleta Zorra program, which has a cost of CLP 62.000 per person, which can turn out to be the main obstacle for many backpackers. This program includes the entrance to the park and accommodation in the refuges for 6 nights. These programs work with reserves, so not to exceed the refuges's capacity at any given time. Therefore it is important to make reservations with anticipation for the date one is planning to do this route. The prices and fees can be checked in the park's website www.parquetantauco.cl.This trek will take you through dense forests, bogs, lagoons and wetlands, going through the wildest and most isolated region of Chiloe. It is a unique opportunity to stay in touch with nature and see typical flora and fauna of the region, while enjoying one of the most important conservation projects in Chile and South America. This route has 7 sections:1.- Chaiguata Campsite - Chaiguaco Refuge
2.- Chaiguaco Refuge - Pirámide Refuge
3.- Piramide Refuge - Emerenciana Refuge
4.- Emerenciana Refuge - Caleta Zorra - Emerenciana Refuge
5.- Emerenciana Refuge - Piramide Refuge
6.- Piramide Refuge - Chaiguaco Refuge
7.- Chaiguaco Refuge - Chaiguata Campsite
Section N°1The first section of this route is the shortest one, with a distance of 7,5 km and an expected time of 3 hrs. The trail advances through young forests and over wooden walkways built to avoid walking over mud. Halfway through the trail you will pass near the Chaiguata lake's drainage, where you can resupply your water bottle. Nearing the end of this section you have to take the detour that leads to the Chaiguaco refuge, which is well sign-posted like the rest of the route. The refuge is located near the lake of the same name. The Chaiguaco lake is beautiful, and in hotter summer days you can enjoy a good dip in its waters.Section N°2This section has a distance of 12,5 km and an expected time of 6 hrs, starting to be more demanding. After walking 300 mts from the Chaiguaco refuge, you have to take the detour to the Piramide refuge. Some of the main attraction points of the first part of this section are the old lumber camp, the Chaigua river's hanging bridge and the beautiful panoramic views of Chaiguaco lake. From the lake, you have to walk for 1 hr to reach Triangulo lagoon, last safe point to resupply your water bottle before you reach the Piramide bridge.The trail continues through taller forests and sections of long low steep ascents. The observation tower located in Mirador hill is one the attraction points of the final part of this section, where you can enjoy beautiful views. Finally you will arrive to the Piramide bridge and the refuge of the same name (10 min from the bridge). It is recommended to resupply your water bottle in the bridge and not the lagoon. With a little bit of luck, you will be able to see one or two pudus near the lagoon.
Section N°3The third section has a distance of 15,1 km and an expected time of 7 hrs, being the hardest and most tiring section of the route. From the Piramide refuge you will head south till you reach the fork that separates the Caleta Zorra trail from the Transversal trail. Technically the Caleta Zorra route starts from this point, and it will signalized with the letters "CZ" along the trail. During the most part of this section you will be walking among beautiful green and dense centenary forests. Walking through these forests is the most tiring part of this section, which is compensated the beauty of its surroundings. The trail passes through a pair of bridges and numerous water streams where you can resupply your water bottle. This section ends in the Emerenciana refuge, located next to the lagoon of the same name, suitable for bathing.Section N°4This section of 10,8 km and an expected time of 5 hrs (round trip) will take you to the most extreme point of the route: Caleta Zorra beach. This is a beautiful and lonely beach located in the west coast of the island. The trail that leads to the beach starts in the Emerenciana refuge and passes through dense forests and bog. Shortly before reaching the beach you must descend through a gorge, which has to be done with great precaution.Camping on the beach is not allowed, therefore you will have to return to the Emerenciana refuge. This is a more relaxed day, considering it won't be necessary to carry your backpacks to the beach. The Zorra river escorts the way during a good portion of the trail, so water resupply won't be a problem. From the beach starts the way back to the starting point of the route, which covers the same sections backwards.
Precautions and Recommendations
1. Experience: This is a long and demanding trekking route in a very isolated place. Depending on weather conditions it may be really tough if rains a lot. Experience camping and trekking in isolated places is recommended, so to have a better handling of unexpected situations that may occur.2. Best season: Between December and March, because temperatures are higher and the weather is better, plus you get extra hours of sunlight.3. Food: Since this is an isolated place it is recommended to carry food for 1 or 2 extra days, in the event of unforseen circumstances. This is a long trekking route, therefore is recommended to carry dehydrated food to lighten the weight of the backpack.4. Gear: It is recommended to bring a good pair of trekking boots, since you will be walking over different types of terrain, many times damp. This is a rainy region, so is advisable to bring waterproof jacket and trousers. Other items you should carry with you are leggings, sunscreen, first-aid kit and mosquito repellent.5. Company: It is strongly recommended to do this route with at least one other person, regardless of our experience as backpackers. Accidents may occur, so being with someone else that may provide assistance or get help is extremely important.6. Physical Condition: This is a physically demanding route, with days of long walks of 6 or more hours and relatively long (7 days). One must be physically and mentally prepared for the challenge of walking during hours (under the rain if we are unlucky) with a heavy backpack over our backs. It is recommended to do trekkings of lesser difficulty before doing this route, to evaluate our capabilities.7. Trash and fire: DON'T leave any kind of trash or garbage in the route, nor make a campfire under any circumstances (for cooking use a portable gas stove). Also don't interfere in any way with the local flora and fauna. Be a responsible backpacker and contribute to make sure nature is well cared for!