A Brief History
Before the 1990s, only cattleman, a few settlers, rumors of Butch Cassidy and the occasional tourist passed through Valle Cochamó, or Cochamó Valley. Only since the late 90s, hikers and climbers began walking and climbing amidst the waterfalls, turqoise pools, 1000-meter walls and snow-capped peaks. Their stories of this Yosemite-like valley have brought many more to follow and, in turn, their ecological views have helped conserve this valley as a tourist destination and not threatened by timber yard nor center for hydroelectric plants. Both these ecological threats came close to reality, though thankfully stopped.
The most current threat today comes from two deep-pocket Santiagian investors that continue to push the hydroelectric project in the next river valley south and are planning for future Yosemite-like vision. As long as it remains a hike in, and not a drive in, the gems of the valley will hopefully remain unspoiled, its quiet forests vibrant with life and a recreational destination for all to enjoy.
When to go
Equally important to know, how long to go for. The most common mistake trekkers have mentioned was staying for only one night. One day up, a night and one day down is feasible, but not recommended. Getting to the heart of Cochamó Valley, La Junta, entails a lot of logistics and energy. One night in La Junta’s Refugio Cochamó or Camping La Junta means spending most of the day and day’s energy getting to the trailhead and trekking in, and the following hiking out, missing Cochamó”s best hikes that originate from the La Junta like Cerro Arco Iris and Cerro Gorila. These hikes include granite walls, alerce forests, spectacular views and peaks, something the trek in doesn’t offer. Keep in mind time for rest to recuperate and seeing close-by attractions. See the When To Go page to help plan on when. If you plan to rock climb, also see Cochamó’s Climbing page.
All visitors to Cochamó Valley’s center, La Junta, are hikers. Getting there (unless you horseback) requires a 4-to-6-hour muddy trek through thick forests that abruptly opens into grassy pampas and views of the surrounding granite domes. From there many day hikes exist to river pools, waterfalls, granite walls and peaks with amazing views. See the Getting to Cochamó pages for detailed logistics and maps.
All visitors to Cochamó Valley’s center, La Junta, are hikers. Getting there (unless you horseback) requires a 4-to-6-hour muddy trek through thick forests that abruptly opens into grassy pampas and views of the surrounding granite domes. From there many day hikes exist to river pools, waterfalls, granite walls and peaks with amazing views. See the How To Get to Cochamó page for detailed logistics and maps.
The Refugio Cochamó (bed & breakfast) makes a great base centered in the valley’s epicenter. See the lodging section for a list of amenities available for guests. You can also opt to camp at the Camping La Junta.
You can choose to have your baggage, packs, etc. carried in by packhorses. You can also opt to ride in and out. See the packhorses section and horseback section for more details.