Lago Palena Hiking - Packrafting Rio Pico

An old friend of mine visited me in Argentina and we used this time to do some hiking/packrafting combo in Chile close to the border of Argentina.

As basically everywhere in Patagonia, hiking and rafting is an amazing experience. In this specific case, our original plan didn’t work out but we still had a great time: We wanted to hike from Lago Verde up North to the town of Palena before floating down the Palena River - some issues prevented us from doing so, especially the situation that we lost the way near the Rio Quinto section and the river was quite challenging to cross due to high water level. Additionally, the GPS material we had was not very detailed/accurate and didn’t help in critical parts of the trip. Therefore, we lost the track near the Rio Quinto Junction and had to return to Lago Verde. Also, we didn’t find the huts marked.

On the way back, we entered the Rio Pico near this place -44.19618, -71.87526 and went out close to the street further down the river (half-day trip maximum). There were some WW parts (II-III –> scouting is recommended) followed by slow sections - after the point we left, the river gets more difficult (estimated III-IV).

Some ideas about alternatives:

Start the trip at Lago Verde and head North until you reach Rio Quinto - from there, follow the Rio Quinto until you reach the main street X-11 / X-13. Obviously there are people who already rafted the Rio Quinto - however, this seems to be pretty much full of white-water and it will hard to get out of the valley in case something happens. So this is rather something for people with a strong adventure spirit, enough time, solid equipment and food supplies. After discussions with locals it turned out that rafting the Rio Quinto has been done by local companies and support via horses to bring in the equipment.

Following information is based on 2015 so treat carefully

To get to Palena, fly in via Esquel (ESQ) from Buenos Aires and cross the border to Chile or head down south on the Argentina side until you cross the border near the town Palena. Hitch-Hiking does work well if you are alone or in a group of 2, especially on the “Austral” in Chile. There are buses from Esquel to the Border via Trevelin - from there, try to hitch-hike to Futaleufu from where you can catch again a bus towards the Austral and from there further down south to La Junta. However, enough time should be planned for getting there and away - this is Patagonia/South America.


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