When we were in Argentina in Perito Moreno National Park we met a Swiss couple who had started their trip in Ushuaia and were working their way up north. They told us about a small national park in Chile on the border to Argentina called Pali-Aike, which actually means desolate place in Tehuelche. It is full of lava flows and craters from volcanic explosions thousands of years ago and also has some prehistoric remains which were found in a cave in the park. The Swiss thought we might like it because we told them how much we liked being in the middle of nowhere alone and this place definitely delivered on that.
After towing Toby and Chloe to Punta Arenas, we drove up through the endless pampa until we got to the turn off for the park where we pulled over to air down for the dirt road to the park. We arrived at the park entrance in the early evening a bit concerned by the diminishing daylight. The CONAF officer told us where we could camp for free, where we had to be careful at night because of pumas (do pumas attack people????) and showed us the hiking trails. Then he told us there was no one in the park, so we would have it all to ourselves.
Wait what? We would have an entire national park to ourselves? SWEET!
We entered into the park just as the evening light was turning the grass a glowing golden color and set up camp in the middle of the lava flow which is the designated, bare bones camping area. We spent the next three days surrounded by foxes, rhea and guanacos as we hiked through the other worldly landscape that felt like we had taken a space shuttle to the moon. It was a strange, monochromatic, lava filled place. We ended up staying longer than we had planned because for the first time in literally months we did not have much wind, and the weather was warm enough to sit outside without a huge coat on. The sun felt spectacular and warm after so much icy Patagonian weather.
So would I tell people you have to go here? No. But we actually really enjoyed the peace and solitude we experienced here. Lots of animals, lots of stars, little wind, interesting, easy hikes. Pali-Aike was a unique part of Patagonia and a nice break from the pampa. If you are crossing over into Argentina it is very cheap (about $3 total for entrance for two people and free camping) and not a bad place to unwind from the wind and cold of Tierra del Fuego.