Chile/Argentina - Driving the Carretera Austral
Into the wilderness: a spectacular journey through one of the last untamed areas of the world. Stunning scenery from mountains, lakes and glaciers to the traditional culture and wild beaches of Chiloe Island.
Southern Lake District
Day 1: Pick up a hire car in Puerto Montt (see notes) and stay overnight in town
Torres del Paine
Days 2-5: Board the MV Evangelistas ferry and stow the car for a three night journey south to the port of Puerto Natales and stay one night. Tip: A visit to the nearby Torres del Paine National Park would make a wonderful extension to this trip.
Days 6-7: Cross the border into Argentina and drive to Calafate for a two night stay. The Perito Moreno and Upsala glaciers are both within easy reach.
Days 8-12: Drive north around Lago Argentino to El Chaltén for 3 nights, a perfect base from which to explore the Fitzroy range on foot. The following day, a long drive takes you north through desolate Patagonian steppes to Lago Pueyrredón close to the border with Chile for 2 final nights in Argentina in a beautiful and remote estancia.
Balmaceda to Villa O'Higgins
Days 13-14: Re-cross the border into Chile to join the famous Carretera Austral. The road remains unpaved in the southern extremes and cuts through wild and unspoilt landscapes; virgin forests, aquamarine lakes and immense river valleys. Overnight stays are in small country inns specially chosen for their location.
Days 15-16: Drive north through stunning and diverse scenery, past the devastion caused by the eruption of the Hudson Volcano in 1991, one of the largest eruptions of the 20th century, skirting the Rio Ibañez as far as the Cerro Castillo mountains. Several hours later, you will arrive in Coyhaique, capital of Chile's XII region and spend two nights.
Chaitén to Aisen
Days 17-19: Continue north along the picturesque Simpson Valley to the small village of Puyuhuapi for a couple of nights, close to the impressive hanging glacier at Queulat National Park. The next day, you will head to Chaitén for a final night before you say good bye to the Carretera Austral.
Days 20-21: Board the ferry from Chaitén to Castro, the island's main fishing port, to spend a night and the following day take the coastal road north through tiny fishing villages to Ancud, overlooking the Spanish fort of San Antonio. Ancud is within easy reach of the rugged Pacific coast and a unique island penguin colony, where Magallanic and Humboldt penguins nest side by side.
Southern Lake District
Day 22: Drive along the beach (or the road if the tide is in!) to catch the ferry for the short journey back to the mainland. Hand the car back in Puerto Montt.
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- Hosteria Ancud
- Hostería El Puma
- Hostería Posada Lunajuim
- Hostería Sierra Nevada
- Hotel Belisario Jara
- Hotel Lady Florence Dixie
- Hotel Unicornio Azul
- Mallin Colorado
- MV Evangelistas
- Palafitos Hostal
- Puyuhuapi Lodge and Spa
Includes all breakfasts. For this adventurous itinerary we provide a map, comprehensive directions, suggestions of areas to visit and a list of local contacts. The price has been based on renting a double cabin pick-up, including unlimited mileage, Collision Damage Waiver and local taxes. It is possible to upgrade to a 4WD vehicle. Days of ferry operations are subject to change.