Caleta Tortel is a small town in Chilean Patagonia (Capitan Prat Province's Aysen Region), located between Baker River's mouth and Baker Channel (aka Calen Inlet). Like the entire Southern Patagonian Ice Field, Tortel's scenery is marked by rugged mountains, beautiful fjords, winding channels, large river estuaries.
Caleta Tortel is one the gateways/departure ports to Bernardo O'Higgins National Park - together with Puerto Natales, Puerto Eden and Villa O'Higgins. Tourists can access the Bernardo O'Higgins NP only by sea and air (via cruise ships/tour boats or helicopters/seaplanes).
Caleta Tortel (population around 500) was established in 1955 to serve the region's lumber industry (Guaytecas Cypress logging and timber trade), which continues to be the region's main business. Tourism activities include boat tours mainly to Jorge Montt Glacier (to the south of Caleta Tortel) as well as to other scenic locations in the area. Jorge Montt Glacier is part of the Bernardo O'Higgins National Park (Aysen and Magallanes regions) established in 1969 and covering total area approx 35260 km2 (13610 mi2).
Since its establishment, the town is accessible only via flights (Rio Bravo Airport) and ships. A 2003-opened road connects Caleta Tortel with Route 7 (Carretera Austral highway) that thru Patagonia and interlinks Puerto Montt (north) with Villa O'Higgins (south). Rio Bravo Airport is approx 36 km (22 mi) to the north.
Caleta Tortel's houses spread several kilometers along the coast. Instead of traditional streets, there are wooden walkways. There is a school (1-8 grade), a library (with free WiFi Internet), cellphone coverage, line telephone connections.
As cruise port, Caleta Tortel is included in the South America and Antarctica itinerary programs of top-luxury cruise line brands like Silversea Expeditions, Ponant, Hapag-Lloyd, RSSC-Regent Seven Seas.
Baker River has length 170 km (110 mi) but in terms of water volume is ranked Chile's largest (average discharge 870 m3 per second). The river originates from Bertrand Lake, runs along Northern Patagonian Ice Field's eastern side, and near Caleta Tortel empties into the Pacific Ocean. The river's delta is divided into two arms, of which navigable is only the northernmost one.
Bernardo O'Higgins is Chile's largest national park, with protected land area approx 3,526 million hectares (8,713M / 35259 km2 / 13614 mi2). The NP is part of Chile's Aysen Region and Magallanes Region/Chilean Antarctica.
Neighboring national parks are Los Glaciares (Argentina's Santa Cruz Province) and Torres del Paine (Chilean Patagonia) to the east, and the Chilean nature reserves Laguna San Rafael (to the north), Kawesqar (fka Alacalufes NP, to the southwest) and Katalalixar (northwest).
Bernardo O'Higgins NP is located between Baker Channel and Channel/Fjord of the Mountains (west of Puerto Natales). Its scenery is marked by narrow fjords (penetrating deeply into the mountains, the most visited by tourists is Ultima Esperanza Sound/Eberhard Fjord), glaciers (from the Southern Patagonian Ice Field, including Pio XI Glacier - the largest outside Antarctica), subpolar forests (mainly the tree species guindo, lenga beech, Antarctic beech, canelo/winter's bark). Wildlife includes the endangered South Andean deer (aka Southern Guemal/Chilean Huemul), Andean Condors, Marine Otters, Cormorants.
Port Caleta Tortel cruise ship schedule shows timetable calendars of all arrival and departure dates by month. The port's schedule lists all ships (in links) with cruises going to or leaving from Caleta Tortel, Chile Patagonia. To see the full itineraries (ports of call dates and arrival / departure times) and their lowest rates – just follow the corresponding ship-link.
|29 March, 2024|
|MS Roald Amundsen|