There is so much to do and see at the Huilo Huilo Biological Reserve in Chile’s Patagonia Rainforest. From the forest pathways to the soaring, snow-capped peaks of the surrounding mountains, adventure abounds.
Better yet, when it’s time to relax, unwind and connect with the local culture, there are plenty of unexpected amenities available in this tranquil wilderness. I was amazed at the diversity of experiences offered at this one-of-a-kind destination.
My zip line tour of the rain forest canopy provided plenty of stunning scenery and a strong dose of adrenaline. There’s nothing like flying through the air at top speed, high above the trees and the steep hillsides of this spectacular region while suspended from a wire and a harness. The various zip lines that make up the tour are connected by a series of bridges and tree-hugging walkways made of wood slats strung together by rope. The open spaces between these wooden slats offered a scenic, if sobering, look down through the forest canopy. It’s an experience that really makes you feel immersed in this unique environment and a fantastic way to touch and appreciate a part of the forest you can’t see without climbing into the trees.
Back on the ground, there are many hiking trails for exploring the Patagonian rainforest floor. I chose a slightly easier way, touring the rainforest on horseback. The lush greenery and rugged mountain landscape are no less impressive from ground level and a leisurely ride was just the way to see it.
After a day of adventuring in the rainforest, I was surprised and pleased to find that there’s actually a brewery located in the Huilo Huilo Biological Reserve, serving up a really good beer which I recommend enjoying with a pizza from the resort’s pizzeria. You can also visit the gift shop to purchase a few bottles to take with you. Although the bar at the gift shop features some unique stools with seats cut out of local logs, you may wish to make your purchase and take your beverages to enjoy on more comfortable seating.
The adventure at Huilo Huilo Biological Reserve doesn’t end with the zip line and forest treks. Venture into the surrounding mountains where the snow park offers a great ski experience and even better view. A 30-minute snow cat ride brought me to the top of the mountain where I was greeted by fresh powder and a stunning vista that took in the Andes mountains in the distance and three snow-capped volcanoes nearby. The most active volcano in Chile dominated the view with a thin plume of smoke rising into the blue sky. Getting to enjoy this view while skiing on snow that I was the first to put tracks in made this a very special experience.
It’s hard to find a destination with a more varied array of exciting outdoor activities and after a day of skiing, I was eager to spend some time rejuvenating at the hotel spa. Not only does the spa offer a full range of services, the indoor pool and hot tub are surrounded by a large semi-circular wall of windows that offer tranquil views of the rainforest outside. The Huilo Huilo Biological Reserve really offers the best of excitement and the best of relaxation.
The fun doesn’t end when you head back to your room either. The resort buildings are connected by an elevated wooden walkway and guests are provided with golf carts to get around. I learned that the speed limit, which I took to be merely a suggestion, is probably well advised as the walkway is studded with the trunks of rain forest trees which grow through holes cut in the wooden decking to avoid disturbing the forest canopy. Drive your golf cart with caution and be careful of the trees and light posts, the latter of which I found to be prone to tipping over when hit.
Another important part of the adventure at Huilo Huilo is the opportunity to connect with the local culture. A great way to do this is at the Volcano Museum, a large, round building that slopes downward from the roofline, echoing the shapes of the surrounding volcanos. Inside, artifacts and photographs arranged around the circular exhibit space inform the visitor about the history and way of life of the local Mapuche people. The opportunity to experience a connection with the environment and the cultural history of Chile’s Patagonian rain forest is what makes Huilo Huilo Biological Reserve special.
There’s really something for everyone here and I had a fantastic time and was amazed by the diversity of exciting experiences I was able to enjoy on my visit. Trekkers, hikers, adrenaline junkies and those who like to take it easy, enjoy the fantastic cuisine, beautiful scenery and complete range of amenities will all appreciate a trip to this unique, beautiful and remote wilderness area. The Huilo Huilo Biological Reserve in Chile’s Patagonian Rainforest is truly a spectacular destination. www.huilohuilo.com