- Southern Patagonia, Torres del Paine & Tierra del Fuego
- Punta Arenas
- Pali Aike National Park
Even though Pali Aike means "desolate place" in aónikenk, the language used by the aborigin peoples of this part of Patagonia, this place is also known as The Devil's slag heap. This park, created in 1970, features 5.030 ha of forests, volcanoes, caves, and pampas inhabited by guanacos, armadilos, and rheas. Its exotic lunar landscapes and the unique mixture of shades of gray will remind you of the lava rivers of the region of Antofagasta.
One of the most important landmarks in the park is the Pali Aike Cave, where several archaeological remains have been found, proving that the place was used as a refuge more than 11.000 years ago.
Pali Aike National Park Basic Information
Location: Región de Magallanes y la Antártica Chilena, in San Gregorio. The park is located 37 km northeast of Punta Delgada and 196 km northwest of Punta Arenas.
How to get there
- Santiago-Punta Arenas: by air. Punta Arenas-San Gregorio-Pali Aike NP: by land through Ruta 9 Norte. In the km 45 take the road CH 225 heading to Monte Aymond border crossing, and then take the detour to Punta Delgada.
- By land through International route Nº255 for 28 kms starting in Punta Delgada. 168 kms of the main road are paved and the remaining 28 kms are gravel. The road is operational year round.
When to go: Year round
Climate: Cold steppe climate.
Services: Information office.
Pali Aike National Park Infrastructure and Services
There is a permanent resident in the park, whom you can contact at (61) 38 04 89. From October to March there is one additional ranger.
There is an office open to the public, where you must check in, pay the entrance fee, and get the park's general information.
For more information contact Conaf (National Forest Corporation): 0309 Bulnes St., Punta Arenas. Phone: (56-61) 23 85 81.
Picnic Areas: There are three areas in the park which you can use for resting and eating. They are located in front of Pali Aike Cave and have picnic tables, benches, and garbage bins.
It is important to mention that the park does not have running water, so you must bring the all the water you will need during your stay.
Services outside the park:
- First Aid: Villa Punta Delgada a 26 Km. del Parque
- Foodstuff: Villa Punta Delgada a 26 Km. del Parque
- Accommodation: Villa Punta Delgada a 26 Km. del Parque.
Attractions in Pali Aike National Park
What to see:
Pali Aike National Park is well known for its visual attractions, which create an arid landscape with stunning lava valleys. Its vegetation and the animal species inhabiting the park, as well as the volcanic cones that fill the place, will amaze you with their scenic beauty.
It is an eye-catching lanscape with semi-desert vegetation, basaltic lava, and a varied fauna that includes guanacos, bats, and gray foxes.
The park has four trails and a number of caves. If you get the proper authorisation you can visit Fell Cave, where you will see 9.000 year-old rock paintings. The caves and trails will let you see species like guanacos, rheas, gray foxes, flamingoes, kodkods, and bats, among others.
What to do:
- Sea kayaking
- Wildlife observation
- Archaeological and anthropological sites
Trails: The park has four trails:
- Morada del Diablo Crater: 1.700 mts., medium difficulty, you can observe flora, fauna and volcanic phenomena. It can be covered in 40 minutes.
- Pali Aike Cave: 600 mts., easy access, ideal for photographers. It can be covered in 30 minutes.
- Ana Lagoon: approximately 9.000 mts, demarcated, it crosses the Patagonian steppe, goes through the slag heap and gets to the viewpoint of Ana lagoon, where you will have a panoramic view of the park. It can be covered in approximately 2hrs and 45 min.
- Morada del Diablo Crater to Pozos del Diablo: These two points are 2 km away. Even though this trail is a bit more difficult, it is accessible for all visitors. It goes through the slag heap and it can be covered in 45 minutes. With scenic views, it is ideal for photographers.
Consider these recommendations during your stay in the park:
- Protect the vegetaton.
- Protect the fauna, its nesting areas, and the natural refuges.
- Camp and picnic only in authorised areas.
- If you have doubts, contact a park ranger or the area administrator.
- You will need a gas or coal stove for camping.
Pali Aike National Park Natural Heritage
The park is located in the driest area of the Magellanic steppe. The majority of its surface is covered by vast spillings of basaltic lava, determining the presence of semi desert vegetation. Various formations like volcanic cones, natural caves, craters, basaltic walls, and lava fields resemble a lunar landscape.
The relief of the park is a 200 mt. plateau, with hills that do not exceed 273 mts m.s.l (Diablo hill). The whole area is an extensive volcanic field that has been active from the Pliocene to the most recent times.
There have been three volcanic cycles after the last glaciation. According to archaeological and geomorphological evidence found, it is thought that the last volcanic episode, which gave birth to Diablo hill, occured 15.000 years ago. The lava found in the area has two varieties: Pahoehoe and Aa (Hawaiian terms).
In the park and its surroundings you will find the caves of Pali-Aike and Fell. In 1938, prehistorical remains covered by ashes and volcanic material were found. Presumably, these remains are 15.000 years old.
The park is divided in two areas: a bordering one, called Escorial del Diablo (The devil's slagheap), covered by a thick layer of basaltic lava and ashes, it is a great tourist and scientific attraction. The other area corresponds to the biotic province of the Magellanic steppe, being the only park in the country that is a true representative of this vegetal formation.
Due to the singular features of this volcanic field, the park has great scenic value. Its origin, magnitude, location, and its minimum human intervention make it an ideal place for geological and archaeological studies.
There are four different vegetal communities distributed in a mosaic with diffused limits: Patagonian mesic steppe, Patagonian xeric steppe, myrtle, and vegetation belonging to volcanic regions. The predominant community is the steppe, basically formed by the association of poaceaes, dominated by the Coirón, among which you can find several herbs. The bushy areas are represented by ugni molinae, romerillo, gray shrub, paramela, black shrub, and Magellan barberry. The lichens present are Ramalina terebrata, Cetraria islandica, Thamnolia vernicularis, Protousnea magallanica, and Usnea sp.
There are remarkable species of the Patagonian native fauna, some of which are endangered. Some of the mammals are guanaco, gray fox, Molina’s hog-nosed skunk, puma, armadilo, and red fox. There are also birds like mountain caracara, common kestrel, caiquén, black-necked ibis, white-throated hawk, black-chested buzzard eagle, peregrine falcon, and rhea. Regarding the acuatic avifauna it is possible to find flamingoes, swans, coscoroba swan, yellow-billed pintail, sanderling, and two-banded plovers. In the volcanic area, you can find species of herpeto fauna, such as lizards of the Liolaemus genus, among which the Liola
San Gregorio was the first Chilean territory sighted by Ferdinand Magellan in 1520. There, archaeologists have found remains of the aonikenk or tehuelche people. Those aborigins called this area Tierra del Diablo (The devil's land) due to its strange configuration and changing geography. Nevertheless, they were not the first to inhabit those lands; researchers found remains in this part of the continent, dating back 11.000 years.
We recommend that you Schedule your flight to arrive in Punta Arenas in the morning, so you are able to participate in the scheduled activities without affecting the itinerary.
The climate is temperate, cold, and humid. The average annual temperature is 9° C maximum, and the minimum is 3° C. In autumn and winter, rainfall increases considerably.
For those who visit national park or national reserves, DO NOT litter the trails. Taking care of our parks and environment is everyone's responsibility. Avoid fines by following the rules.
Stores in rural areas are open all day, but they close between 13.00 and 15.00. We advise you to carry local currency (Chilean pesos), since it isn’t possible to pay with debit or credit cards in kiosks and rural stores.