At the mouth of its namesake river, Puerto Cisnes (population 2,507) owes its origins to a 1920s lumber mill but still serves as a key port for scattered fishing hamlets in and around Canal Puyuhuapi; rarely visited Parque Nacional Isla Magdalena is just across the water to the west.
Construction of a link to the Carretera Austral has partially reoriented the town inland, and in recent years the economy has diversified with salmon farming and tourism (primarily fly-fishing).
One of Aisén’s architectural oddities is the Biblioteca Pública Genaro Godoy, a wooden structure with hexagonal neoclassical columns and a pediment with bas reliefs of figures from Greek mythology.
Visitors can hire a launch to the 157,616-hectare Parque Nacional Isla Magdalena, occupying most of its namesake island and several smaller islands, but it costs around US$200 (a bit less with skilful negotiations). Contact Alberto Miranda (tel. 067/346752), Raúl Rogel Vargas (Gabriela Mistral 165, tel. 067/346600), or Héctor Parra (Dr. Steffens 212, tel. 067/346548).
Accommodations and Food
Several passable accommodations start with reasonably priced Hospedaje Bellavista (Séptimo de Línea 112, tel. 067/346408, US$11 pp with shared bath). Hostería El Gaucho (Holmberg 140, tel. 067/346514, US$13 pp) and comfy Hostal Michay (Gabriela Mistral 112, tel. 067/346462, US$15–17 pp) are slightly dearer.
Well-kept El Guairao (Piloto Pardo 58, tel. 067/346473, US$55 d) has motel-style rooms with satellite TV; it also has the best restaurant.
To Coyhaique (US$11), Transportes Terra Austral (Piloto Pardo 368, tel. 067/346757) and Buses Alegría (Piloto Pardo 354, tel. 067/346434) both have 6 a.m. departures daily except Sunday. Transportes Entre Verdes (Séptimo de Línea 112, tel. 067/346775) goes to La Junta (US$7) at 4 p.m. Monday and Friday; otherwise, for northbound connections, wait at the highway junction or backtrack toward Coyhaique.
© Wayne Bernhardson from Moon Chile, 2nd edition