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Cochrane

Description

Cochrane is the only populated center in the area it is located, with about 2800 inhabitants. It was founded in 1954 with the name of Pueblo Nuevo (New Town) in the Chacabuco valley, but today it is placed in Aysen with over 8500 km². It is surrounded by mountains, among them the Baez, the Esmeralda mountain chain and the Tamango.

Besides the mountains, several of them of glacier kind, Cochrane is surrounded by native forest, with species like lenga, ñire, cypress and coigüe. There are also a lot of animals only found in this area, in Southern Chile, like the Huemul, which is a symbol of the zone and lives in the Tamango National Reserve, 9 kms from the city. There are also guanacos, foxes, pumas, rabbits, rheas, eagles, ducks, thrushes and falcons.

Other characteristic of Cochrane is the wind, which has shaped everything on its way, including mountains and the vegetation around, especially in the Pampas. Near Cochrane you can find the Baker River, which is the most plentiful river in the country, and has today the greatest energetic potential.

The landscapes are of stunning beauty, where millenary forests meet crystalline lakes and snowy mountains and valleys continue to be untouched by men. People here survive thanks to cattle farming and tourism, keeping traditions alive in such a distant place.

Attractions

Cochrane isn't the only place to see here. While you visit this small town, you can take the opportunity to go other places, like:

Tamango Reserve: Located in the northern part of Cochrane, it is almost 7000 hectares long. It's the closest place to the city where you can find native forests, and it's the most important refuge for the fauna of the area. It is the home of the Huemul and the Guanaco, the biggest mammals in Chile, protected by many laws in the country. There are also smaller animals, such as foxes and ducks, and a variety of vegetation, which deliver a fantastic view, especially in autumn when the foliage begins to change its colors.

Cochrane Lake: Administrated by Conaf, it is a special place to practice fly fishing. You can spend the night in one of the refuges right by the lake or take walks around and have a nice resting time. Laguna Esmeralda: It's 7 kms from Cochrane and its waters have a nice temperature during the summer, ideal to swim and practice aquatic sports. You can fish for trouts, just like in other lakes in the region, and enjoy the landscapes that surround it, which include mountains and forests.

Valle Chacabuco: It was one of the first places in the region to be populated, so it has historical and cultural importance, especially by the presence of Tehuelches. The Chacabuco River runs right across it, but it's a glacier valley, where guanacos and huemules live. You can visit old farms where cattle used to be stored, or get to see a shearing of animals, or simply go horseback riding.

Campos de Hielo Norte: Completely covered in ice, it is an extense area where mountains and valleys meet, all covered in eternal snow. You can practica mountain related sports and adventure tourist activities. Along with the Southern Patagonia Icefields, it is the biggest water reserve in the world.

Activities

In Cochrane you can practice many sports, especially the ones related to adventure tourism as its called, like rafting and kayak, the little darlings of the area. You can also go swimming on Laguna Esmeralda or play regular sports, such as soccer and volleyball.

In the summer, however, there are special activities that take place all over the city, and that will surprise any visitors. In January and February, the Cochrane Municipality organizes music shows, movie and theater festivals. Later on, in February, the Traditions Festival is prepared. Here you can see many Chilean traditions related to games, food and dances. Parents and children participate in a varied series of activities such as "cooking on a stick", tents with crafts and food, milking of animals, a parade of settlers, sheep shearing, wood carving, animal branding, and many other interesting and fun activities.

Information

Location
In Aysén, Southern Patagonia.
How To Get There
Once you reach Coyhaique, you travel for another 345 kms down the Ruta 7 to Villa Cerro Castillo. From there, there are 95 kms to Cochrane. You can also take a small plane in the Coyhaique airport to Cochrane, which is a 45-minute trip.
When To Go
All year.
Climate
Inestable, temperatures go over the 20°C in summer.
Services
Accommodation, camping, travel agency, call center, disco and pub, gas station, transportation, crafts and tourist information, school, telephone, fax, internet, post office, hospital, restaurant, coffee house, hotel, hostel.
Surroundings
Lago Esmeralda, Parque Nacional laguna San Rafael, Reserva Nacional Tamango, Cordón Chacabuco, Villa Chacabuco, Cordón Esmeralda, Tortel, Chile Chico, Coyhaique.