Villa O’Higgins

Villa O’Higgins is a city in ChileanPatagnonia. It is located at the southern most end of the Carretera Austral, on the edge of Lake O’Higgins and Campo Hielo del Sur.

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Villa O’Higgins can be accessed by road via the Carretera Austral or by boat from Candelario Mansilla, Chile, where the Chilean border post is for those coming from El Chaltén, Argentina (there is no auto access over this border crossing; see note in the Get Out section). There is a small aerodrome with limited flights to and from Coyhaique.

Villa O’Higgins is a small town and it is easy for the visitor to get to know the entire town in a short while. There are many hikes and treks out of Villa O’Higgins, including to the surrounding glaciers.

Shop-a-holics will find Villa O’Higgins a disappointment; you can buy food and basic supplies, but the village is remote so prices are high and many things are unavailable. There are no ATMs. You may be able to purchase limited camping and trekking supplies at Hielo Sur, but you should ensure that you have everything you need before leaving Cochrane or El Chaltén. White gas is only rarely available in Villa O’Higgins. Cigarettes are hard to get in the town.

There are few restaurants in this tiny town. If you are staying more than a night you may want to ensure that your accommodations include kitchen access. There are several minimarkets and meat and bread shops in town. Ask the locals and they will tell you who sells what. If the stores are closed someone can usually tell you where the owner is. Food is relatively expensive and produce can be hard to come by.

There is a limited selection of wine, beer and spirits in the town’s several minimarkets. The bar scene is non-existent in Villa O’Higgins.

There are only a few places to stay in town. There is also lodging along the last section of road between the town of Villa O’Higgins and Lago O’Higgins.

  • El Mosco. A warm house with a cozy shared kitchen and three rooms with bunk beds. Each room has place for 6 persons. Upstairs there are three double rooms, more expensive, with private bath. Camping is also allowed on the grounds, with access to laundry, showers, an outdoor restroom and the house kitchen. The owner, Jorge, is friendly and helpful and makes you feel very at home in his house. Internet is free, W-Lan available if you have your own laptop. He speaks fluent English as well as Spanish and also runs a shuttle to Puerto Yungay and to Lago O’Higgins on days that the boat leaves for Candelario Mancilla. 
  • 48.2272.91 El Parador Carpintero, carretera austral, Villa O’Higgins (on carretera austral, left side just before entering the town from the north.). Check-in: any time, check-out: any time. This is an eco-campsite with a central lodge for cooking and showers. There are dry toilets and the materials used in the “green” buildings are all either local and/or recycled. The site has been preserved intact as much as possible, leaving the environment as it was found, full of animal and plant life under a canopy of trees. Owner, Mauricio Melgarejo, speaks both Spanish and English, and is very helpful and knowledgeable. He runs birding, trekking and hiking tours, too. An assistant on the site also speaks French. He can also arrange for cabins and other facilities in Villa O’Higgins. CLP$5. 

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