Monday, December 8, 2008
South to Puerto Cisnes
Nearing the southern end of Queulat (National Park) the road forks at a place called Piedra del Gato where you may either continue south taking the slight left curve towards Manihuales and onward towards Puerto Aisen. Manihuales has a few stores and gas station, and I will get to that leg of the trip later. We took the right fork westward to Puerto Cisnes, another small port town backed up by mountains. It was, as always, a lovely drive if it were not for the dry conditions, periodic road work and constant dust kicked up by vehicles.
Closer to Cisnes, the narrow road hugs the coast and winds around a point then into the little town of approximately 500 people. The harbour is larger and deeper than Puyuhuaipi but has the same type of brightly colored wooden boats drifting on anchors. Several comfortable hotels dot the waterfront and the town has a large school, an internet cafe and only a couple of restaurants. Small commercial fishing ventures and new construction appear to be the local employment.
From Puerto Cisnes, Isla Magdalena sits just across the Puyuhuaipi Canal. A National Park since 1983, the entire park consists of 157,600+ hecatares of virgin island forest and fauna including a small wild cat called locally Guina. On the Pacific side you are likely to encounter Penguins and a multitude of Patagonian birds and ducks. The only way to explore the island and it's beaches is by boat or kayak. At the time we visited we were told there were no interior facilities or park officials. Fishing is an option outside of the Park boundaries.
One interesting find...a substantial number of dogs with one blue eye, and one brown eye. I counted four of the friendly critters on my morning walk along the harbour.