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Introducing Coyhaique

The cow town that kept growing, Coyhaique is the regional hub of rural Aisén, urbane enough to house the latest techie trends, mall fashions and discos. All this is plopped in the middle of an undulating range, with rocky humpback peaks and snowy ranges in the backdrop. For the visitor, it's the launch pad for far-flung adventures, be it fly-fishing, trekking the ice cap or rambling the Carretera Austral to its end at Villa O'Higgins. For those fresh from the rainforest wilderness of northern Aisén, it can be a jarring relapse into the world of semi trucks and subdivisions.

Industry is braced to pounce here, with a number of regional hydroelectric projects in the works and a recently defeated aluminum plant. Rural workers come to join the timber or salmon industries and add to the growing urban mass.

At the confluence of the Río Simpson and Río Coyhaique, the sprawling city center has its plaza at the heart of a pentagonal plan.