Puerto Rio Tranquilo is in Patagonia, on the shores of Lake General Carrera. Its location on the lake on the Carretera Austral and close to the Laguna San Rafael National Park makes it a popular travel destination. The most famous highlight are probably the washed-out marble caves at Lake General Carrera, where the place is located.
Puerto Rio Tranquilo is a small tourist-oriented town in Patagonia. The main tourist season is from December to February, when the town is crowded with tourists, many of them Chileans. There is very little activity outside of the high season, and many establishments close down entirely during the winter months.
General Carrera Lake is the largest in Chile, and the second largest in South America after Lake Titicaca. In Argentina it is called "Lago Buenos Aires". It is up to 580 m deep.
The calm river bay on the Río Tranquilo on the otherwise often rough lake was used as a landing stage early on. It also gave the place its name, which translates as "harbor on the calm river".
The bus from Coyhaique to Cochrane stops in Puerto Rio Tranquilo. Several companies run this route on very similar schedules, leaving Coyhaique at either 09:00 or 09:30 and arriving in Puerto Rio Tranquilo around 13:00 or 14:00 respectively (May 2016). They cost 10,000 pesos (May 2016). The return bus from Cochrane to Coyhaique passes through Puerto Rio Tranquilo around 11:00, arriving back in Coyhaique around 15:30. There is no bus station in Puerto Rio Tranquilo; the buses stop on the main road where the tourist information center is.
The town is in the southern part of the Carretera Austral between Cochrane and Coyhaique. It can be easily reached from Argentina via Chile Chico near Perito Moreno and Los Antiguos. In winter, it is preferable to cross the border at Coyhaique.
Puerto Rio Tranquilo's main attraction is the Marble Caves (Cuevas de Marmol). They can be visited by hiring a boat from one of the agencies along the lakefront. A boat tour costs 10,000 pesos per person.
From simple boat tours to guided canoe tours, there are various options and providers. They can be easily booked on site with the organizers along the main street. With the small outboard motor boats for about 10 people you can go far into the caves. This is not possible with the larger, but more luxurious excursion boat. Cheaper canoe tours are offered from Puerto Marmol (6 km south on the Carretera Austral).
Turismo Rio Exploradores runs 1-, 2-, and 3-day tours to the Laguna San Rafael glacier.
It's possible to rent kayaks for 35,000 pesos for 3 hours from one of the tourist agencies on the main road.
- Campos de Hielo Supermarket has with the largest range in town, in Dagoberto Godoy near the petrol station. Open: M-Sa 09:00 - 13:30 and 15:00 - 21:30, Su only mornings.
Many of the hostels will provide dinner if ordered in advance.
- Willi y Pancho, on Ruta 7 on the lakefront, corner of Dagoberto Godby. Simple and tasty.
There are many small hostels and guesthouses in the town and nearby. During the December-January high season, it is advisable to book accommodations in advance. Otherwise, it's easy to find a room upon arrival.
- Hostal Los Pinos (1 block away from the main street). Dinner is 7,000 pesos upon request, WiFi. 30,000 pesos double.
There is no ATM in town, you can usually pay by card. You can get cash in Cochrane , Chile Chico and Coyhaique.
There is no post office in town.
The Wi-Fi offered in accommodations and restaurants is often congested and slow. The provider "Entel" offers good coverage with telephone reception and fast mobile Internet (3G) on site. Mobile Internet is preferable to public Wi-Fi connections, especially during peak times.
- Laguna San Rafael National Park - a road from Puerto Rio Tranquility is under construction