This sleepy town along the Carretera Austral will get quite the tourism shock in the next years. If they would only step up their tourism infrastructure a bit as well, it would all happen a bit quicker…
But hey, we are in Patagonia, so time has a different meaning here. The 2.900 souls living here, as remote as it gets, were quite happy amongst themselves. Now the Patagonia National Park has opened nearby, it is only slowly adjusting to tourism life.
Situated in a flat part of the valley, Cochrane has the usual Chilean grid. The tourism office is on the Plaza de Armas, and most things you need (supermarkets, restaurants, laundry) can be found within a five minute walk from here. There is also a brand new, beautiful hospital.
Food and drinks
If you go down Teniente Merino street, there are different options. Cerveceria Tehuelche is not only a brewery-cafe, it also has pizzas and burgers. On the other side of the street one block further is Ada’s restaurant, a bit more stylish. Neighbor Hijos de Pionero is another down-to-earth option, and around the corner to the right is Cabanas Lago Brown for the typical Chilean cheap fare.
More south of the Plaza de Armas is the Nirrantal, which like Ada’s has a bit more of an eclectic menu. La Isla has lamb and Italian dishes and more as well, with decent prices.
A rather strange option is the new Cafe Tero, which has waffles and crepes but opens only late afternoon. It is a welcome addition, though quality is a bit hit-and-miss depending on what you order.
Activities / things to do
Well, quite simply hiking in the national park. For that I wrote a separate article. The biggest challenge is getting there and getting back. One part of the park can be done from the village itself by foot, but the most spectacular hikes cannot.
Getting to Cochrane and getting around
- the airport: hard to believe but this little place has a small airport. It only serves small planes, but is a welcome additional travel option
- bus: most people will come by rental car or by bus. There are almost daily buses from Cochrane to Coyhaique and vice versa, and from Cochrane to Villa O’Higgings. Less frequent (three times a week in 2023) is the connection to Caleta Tortel. Be prepared to loose a day because connections are not available when you need them
- within the city: all is within an easy walking distance. The core of the village is a grid of 5×10 streets
- Weather: it is Patagonia, but because we are in a valley you are a bit shielded from the wind. When the sun is out, you can and will get burnt. But layer up for all possible weather.