Carved out of virgin Valdivian rainforest 15km east of Puelo, Parque Tagua-Tagua is southern Chile's latest park. A private initiative funded by Universidad Mayor in Santiago and managed by Mítico Puelo Lodge and Miralejos Chile Adventure, the park preserves 3000 hectares of previously unseen alerce forest along with two lakes, Lago Alerce and Lago Quetrus, bounded by granite mountains. Trekking and climbing are big draws here, as is bird-watching and the chance of spotting pudú (small deer), puma and condors.
There are three basic but well-made alerce refugios (rustic shelters) with bathrooms, solar panels and wood-burning stoves in the park, built along its 25km of trails that traverse rivers via well-built wooden bridges. The park has a limited capacity established by the fragility of its ecosystem and visits are possible by reservation only.
To get here, catch the once-a-day Lago Tagua-Tagua–bound bus from Puerto Montt (7:45am) or Puerto Varas (8:20am), which meets the ferry at the edge of Lago Tagua-Tagua. Make sure you have called ahead to park officials, who will meet you on the other side of the Tagua-Tagua ferry crossing (Puerto Maldonado) for the final 10-minute boat ride to the park.