Three compelling reasons to visit Chile’s Huilo Huilo Reserve

With amazing activities, distinctive accommodation and its own microbrewery, it is well worth the effort to reach this natural wonderland.

The breathtaking Huilo Huilo Falls that give the park its name. (Photo: chrismar/Flickr)
The breathtaking Huilo Huilo Falls that give the park its name. (Photo: chrismar/Flickr)

The main entrance to the Huilo Huilo Biological Reserve is on the dusty dirt road connecting Panguipulli with San Martín de los Andes in Argentina. But it’s worth the bumpy ride and the CLP2,500 entry fee to get there because this private nature park just north of Chilean Patagonia is a veritable piece of paradise.

Spread over 144,000 acres (60,000 hectares), the reserve was established in 1999 to safeguard the temperate rainforest ecosystem that once dominated the region.

Today the park derives its beauty from the hundreds of native trees, such as the rare raulí, the exotic fauna, including pumas and the pudú deer, glacial rivers and the stunning Huilo Huilo and Puma waterfalls that are found within its borders. There are also great views of the snow-covered Mocho-Choshuenco Volcano, which sits to the south west of the park, puffing away contentedly like an elderly gentleman with his pipe.

And if that’s not enough to entice you, This is Chile shares three more reasons to visit the Huilo Huilo Biological Reserve.

1. The outdoor activities

As well as being an ecological treasure, this park is also an outdoor adventure playground, with a plethora of options ranging from the extreme to the more leisurely. If you’re keen to feel your blood pumping, the best way to start is by soaring through the tree tops on the 1,300 foot zip line suspended above the forest floor. Other high-altitude activities include an intense canopy course and year-round skiing on the park’s slopes.

Huilo Huilo also has over 156 miles (250km) of hiking trails, a horse riding trail and underground caverns, while the Fuy and Pirihueico rivers are great for fly-fishing, rafting and kayaking. And after an active day in the park, there’s no better way to relax than in the park’s natural hot springs.

2. The unique accommodation

Set among the trees are Huilo Huilo’s boutique hotels that stand out for their architectural features as much as their high standard of comfort and service. Shaped like an upside-down beehive and constructed from local timber, the Baobab Hotel and Spa has a charming common area and tasteful rooms spread over its seven floors. The Montaña Mágica Lodge is equally spectacular. Also built from materials native to the region, Montaña Mágica is shaped like a pine tree and has a series of man-made waterfalls cascading down its slanted walls. Other accommodation options in the park include eco-cabins, a canopy village of quaint tree houses perched 16ft (5m) above the ground and a campsite.

3. The craft beer

It seems the only way to improve on Huilo Huilo, with its natural beauty and amazing facilities, would be to build a micro-brewery in the middle of the forest reserve. And that’s exactly what the owners did. Located at the base of the Mocho-Choshuenco Glacier, Cervecería Petermann produces four distinctive blends of craft beer from pure malt using traditional German recipes. Our pick? The golden ale called Cerveza Pilmaiquén. Cheers!