Huilo Huilo Reserva Biologica Biosfera, Torres del Paine, The Atacama Desert and Easter island are widely known as premium destinations in Chile.
Huilo-Huilo is a Nature conservation project, committed not only to preserve the flora and fauna inside it, but also to help the local communities around it. This astonishing, sustainable project is located in the Chilean Patagonian rainforest, very close to the border with San Martín de los Andes, Argentina, and so, very close to The Andes mountain stream.
However, lodging is terribly expensive. If I had the money, I would totally spend a couple of nights at Nawelpi Lodge Luxury Suite- 60+ metres cosy suits right next to the Fuy river; or Nothofagus Hotel- a fairy mountain resembling hotel, with a waterfall running inside it.
Of course, there are cheaper options inside Huilo-Huilo. Not everything is super luxury. You can rent a small cabin (2 people) for about $90,000 CLP per night, or a hut, which only has a bed and a night stand for something between 30,000 and 40,000 CLP per night. It is also possible to set up a tent for $12,000 CLP per night, per person.
Nevertheless, they are anyway more expensive than a standard cabin or camping site would be in any other place. So, how did I make Huilo- Huilo a budget trip?
First, I went camping.
This is my first advice. If you feel like it, go camping! But not inside Huilo-Huilo camping site. Set up your tent in Neltume, a town which is 20-minutes walking from Huilo Huilo nearest park entry. It is 3 times cheaper (same facilities), and you can definitely walk 20 minutes to the nearest trails. We paid $4,000 CLP each per day, and saved up to 8,000 CLP each per day.
Camping is only possible in summer, since it snows a hell of a lot in winter. Nevertheless, my boyfriend and I saw cabins for rent in Neltume at half the price, even on high season.
We also saved money by bringing with us all the basic supplies we were going to need. The amount of people who regularly stop in Neltume to get to Huilo Huilo or to cross the Argentinian-Chilean border is insane, so basic stuff are either pricy or scarce. Bring toilet paper, cans of tuna, pasta and rice, salt, sugar, tea, and coffee.
Inside Huilo Huilo, restaurants are very expensive, though food stands in Neltume were reasonable (5,000 CLP per dish high season). If cooking is not an issue, bring a cooker and the gas for it with you, since they are scarce.
Ask for the free trails.
Huilo Huilo has seven, open-to-the-public trails, and some of them, depending on the time of the year- not high season- are free. Ask the staff which of them if you are not planning to do them all. Also, it is possible to buy a bracelet for 15,000 CLP, which gives you full access to all 7 trails for 5 days. All in all, it is better to pay them one by one (each trail is 3,000 CLP).
There are places where tours are not necessary.
Mocho and Choshuenco are two volcanos very close to Neltume and Huilo-Huilo. For both, tourist agencies offer their services to take you to the permitted part of their summit. However, locals and even people working at CONAF told us the path which takes you there is very well designed which makes it impossible for anybody to get lost. I wasn’t able, though, to climb it since the access for both was closed, apparently, due to the amount of touris. Given that we heard the same so many times, from so many different people, we are inclined to believe it is true.
As you have already realised, it is possible to enjoy Huilo Huilo insane rainforest trails, amazing waterfalls, glaze origin lakes and caverns without having to spend the gold you have saved for your retirement haha.