Puerto Raul Marin Balmaceda is a small village, nestled at the mouth of the Palena River which, little by little, is revealing itself to travelers who are enchanted to discover its many charms; lush forests, wide beaches, sand dunes, and abundant marine fauna. Walk around awhile and take in the natural beauty or take a boat tour out into the channels to see dolphins, sea lions and birds.
You can fish from a boat or from shore in several sections of this river, given the large number of tributaries and changing conditions it presents. There are sections suitable for the use of dry flies and nymphs, especially in the muddy areas and shallows. You will also encounter several sections with downed trees and roots; the use of streamers here will attract the fish that await in the pools these obstructions create.
Puerto Raúl Marín Balmaceda
Raúl Marín was the point of entry for colonization of the northern zone of the Palena – Queulat area of Aysen. The first attempts date back to the last decade of the nineteenth century with the establishment of the Island of the Lions Colony, likely named in honor of the puma who habituated the zone between 1888 and 1889. This first colony failed due to the distances that separated the population and the places for grazing and due to lack of support from the State, but attempts continued. Colonization was slow, mainly impulsed by chilotes, who migrated from the island of Chiloé, seeking territories for timber extraction. It was not until the 1930's that the colony was officially founded as the hamlet of Puerto Bajo Palena, which served as a gateway for the exploration and colonization of the interior valleys.
Today, the village of Raúl Marín Balmaceda has just under 400 inhabitants and all of the basic services,including police, a rural health post, a school and radio, an airstrip, small stores and businesses, lodging and restaurants. There are no gas stations or banking services, so plan accordingly.
The ecolodge Fundo Los Leones
The ecolodge Fundo Los Leones is a short 3 km outside of town, (www.fundolosleones.cl). Here, Mauro and Mery will welcome you as if you are part of their family. Their beautiful mini cabins are set in an isolated setting, overlooking the Pitipalena Fjord and you can watch incredible sunrises from your bed or explore their own huge and solitary beach.
Isla Los Leones
Fue en este sitio donde comenzó la colonización de toda esta zona. Los primeros intentos se remontan a la última década del siglo XIX con la fundación de la Colonia Isla Los Leones (1888 - 1889), la cual fracasó por las distancias que separaban a la población y los lugares de pastoreo y también por la falta de apoyo estatal, pero continuaron los intentos. La colonización fue lenta, básicamente realizada por el constante flujo de inmigrantes chilotes, buscando territorios para la extracción de madera. No fue hasta la década del 30 que se constituyó oficialmente el villorrio de Puerto Palena, lo que sirvió de puerta de entrada para la exploración y colonización de las tierras interiores.
The beach is the backyard of the village. You can walk for hours (remember to watch the tides), accompanied by different birds, including marine species like the lile duck, the duckbill jergon, cormorants, kingfishers and hualas, and migratory birds, including bandurrias and queltehues, as well as forest dwellers, like chucaos andhued hued. It is a walk filled with relaxation and silence, and you can spend all the time you want, because it is only a couple of meters away from the village.
If you want a closer look at the channels, fjords and rivers surrounding Raúl Marín, you can also explore by boat or kayak. Tide changes and wind are important factors to take into account, so be flexible with your planning and check local conditions and forecasts.
Las Hermanas Islands
We recommend a trip to Las Hermanas Islands whichare visible in the distance from the beach. Here several hundreds of sea lions gather, and it’s easy to distinguish the enormous males, who are always surrounded by their harem of females and calves. The coexistence group seems peaceful at first glance, sleeping one against the other amongst the rocks and sea breezes, but every once in a while the peace is temporarily interrupted by a brief explosion of action, especially if another male gets too close to the harem, a cause of fierce fights.
If you are interested in a guided boat or kayak tour in the surroundings of RaúlMarín, you can contact Patricio Merino, Kawelyek Expeditions; (09) 75429056; www.kawelyek.cl; email@example.com.
If you are interested in scientific research, you can coordinate a visit to the Añihué private reserve, (www.anihuereserve.com), created with the objective to preserve the unique biodiversity of this complex system of fjords. The Reserve can only be accessed by boat.