Close to 75% of the worlds fresh water reserves are frozen in glaciers and ice-sheets. The Patagonian Ice Fields, which cover close to 16.000 km² are the third largest frozen landmass after Antarctica and Greenland.
Lake General Carrera, with a surface area of 1850 km², is the second biggest lake in South America after Lake Titicaca. The lake comes from the numerous glaciers in the surrounding Andes mountain range.
Baptized as Chelenko by the locals, which means “turbulent waters” in the Teheulche language, the lake´s particularly beautiful waters have given it global recognition. Its great depth (590m, 11th deepest in the world), the marble areas and the high mineral content of its glacial water contribute to the distinct colors we can find throughout its waters, from deep shades of blue to faint turquoise, emerald and green. All this water drains into Bertrand Lake and then Baker river, which is the most abundant river in Chile. In the surrounding area there are other rivers like the Ibañez, Murta, Engaño, Tranquilo, Los Leones, Maitenes, etc… There are also vast extensions of forests filled with creeks, streams and waterfalls.
Patagonia stands out for high degree of conservation and endemism: 80% of its area remains unspoiled and practically free of any human interference, which have kept its ecological conditions in an excellent state. The Chilean Patagonia in particular extends over hundreds of kilometers of geographically unique landscapes of great ecological value; thick temperate rain forests, glacial valleys, windy “pampas” and countless fjords dotted with small islands.
The flora in Patagonia is very lush and unique. Within its thick Evergreen forests we find species like the Larch, Araucaria, Coigüe, Lenga and the Nirre. There are also native plants and shrubs in the region such as the Nalca, the Calafate, the Chilco and the Rosa Mosqueta. The most distinctive animal species are the South Andean Deer, the Puma, the Guanaco, the Condor and the Patagonian Grey fox, along countless other bird species.
According to some historians the name “Patagonia” originates from the word “patagon”, which Magellan used to refer to the local Tehuelche Indians he met during his expedition. Patagonia´s Cultural Heritage stems from the cultures and traditions of its colonizers and the local inhabitants, which blended and eventually became what we now know as Patagonian Gaucho culture.
In fact, the name of Aysén Region is said to come from the English term “ice end”, which the pioneers used to refer to the region during the XIX century after reaching firm ground after days of walking through the ice fields.