Coyhaique is the capital of the Aisen Region and has a population of approximately 50,000 inhabitants, or half of the region's population. For those traveling along the Carretera Austral, (Southern Highway) or living in the sparsely inhabited Northern Patagonia this small city is a pocket of civilization. Here there is a wide range of services, including banks, pharmacies, supermarkets, laundries, car rentals, big box hardware & home-goods suppliers as well as numerous restaurants and communications services.
It's the best place in the region to stock up on whatever goods and provisions you would need to comfortably enjoy living off-grid somewhere out in the beautiful Patagonian wilderness. It is also a good launch pad for some great adventure and sporting trips out into the surrounding countryside and areas beyond.
The city's layout includes a pentagonal shaped Plaza de Armas. Such a design is unconventional for a plaza shape in Latin America. But the story goes that back in 1929, (when the area was little more than a supply-post and refueling station for port trade between Argentina & Chile) the town fathers incorporated it into their city plan. The reason for the pentagon being that it was modeled off of the national police force's emblem, of which the main city planner (General Marchant Gonzalez) was one.
The capital area itself is set-up in a large open valley and within one hour's easy reach of the regional airport of Balmaceda. Coyhaique sits just west of the towering Andes Mountains. Here the climate is relatively dry, intermediate between the coastal rainforests and the pampas. But just beyond it and for hours of driving either way lie deep green native forests with only small rag-tag villages interspersed between the vast and spectacular wilderness beyond. An ideal spot to start interesting trips to the north or the south, since there are territories that have not yet been explored here and truly one of the few natural frontiers left on earth.