Carretera Austral: Explore Chilean Patagonia

How to Explore Chile’s Aysen Region: A land of gigantic mountains, pristine lakes and awe-inspiring glaciers. Winding for 800 miles through the Aysen region, the Carretera Austral showcases some of Chile’s most spectacular scenery. Running between the towns of Puerto Montt and Villa O Higgins, the Carretera takes you through Aysen, a little visited region of Patagonia located between the Lake District and Torres del Paine Park in the south. More than 41,000 sq miles of mountains, fjords and archipelagoes. Remote, diverse, and stunningly beautiful, Aysen is a destination for those seeking the best of Patagonia without the crowds.


Reasons to visit Carretera Austral in Chile
• The Carretera Austral is a world-famous road, perfect for a road trip or slower bicycle tour; • Get an insight into the gaucho culture and traditional warm hospitality that has dominated here for centuries; • Discover each of the three contrasting landscapes: listen to birds call in the temperate rainforest, hike peaks in the mountains, and gaze at sunset over the steppe; • Spot the wildlife: The untouched nature of the Aysen region means wildlife has flourished. • Close to Coyhaique you can visit a condor nursery, where condors fly within meters of you. • In the Chacabuco Valley, puma numbers are steadily increasing due to an abundance of guanacos, and in the Tamango area of the Patagonia National Park there is a higher density of the endangered huemul deer than almost anywhere in Patagonia.


Carretera Austral: Plan your Next Road Trip
A number of companies offer nonstop flights from the US to Santiago. There are connections available from Santiago de Chile to Balmaceda, Aysen’s regional airport, with Latam and Jetsmart. You can rent a 4x4 at the airport (essential for tackling Aysen’s roads) or you can hire a local professional driver and/or local guide. It is essential that you bear in mind that cell-phone reception is almost nonexistent along the Carretera Austral. Remember that Carretera Austral is a 1,240-kilometre, mostly unpaved route that winds itself from the Chilean Lakes District deep into the heart of Aysén, Chile’s least populated region. The biggest challenges you face driving is the state of the road; most of the Carretera Austral are unpaved gravel, which can be dangerous to drive on if you take it too fast. Punctures are also a possibility, while flying gravel can chip and even crack windscreens. We strongly recommend that you hire the services of a local professional driver who knows the road and knows what to do in case a problem arises.


Top Things to See and Do on Carretera Austral


The regional capital is a 45-minute drive from the airport, and every visitor to Aysen will pass through it. It is worth stopping at the Museo Regional Aysen which tells you all you need to know about the region’s fascinating history and ecology. The best hotels in town are the Nomades Boutique Hotel and El Reloj.


Queulat National Park

As well as hikes to the Hanging Glacier, there are kayaks for rent on the lagoon, and you can take boat trips to get close to the glacier. Don’t miss the Puyuhaupai Lodge and Spa, a secluded hot-springs resort on the far shore of the Puyuhuapi fjord.


Cerro Castillo

The rugged landscape around the mountain, an easy 90-minute drive south of Coyhaique, is arguably the most dramatic in the region.

Lake General Carrera

The Carretera Austral follows the shores of the vivid blue Lake General Carretera, so as you drive south, you will have plenty of time to take in the scenery. Millin Colorado Ecolodge has beautiful wooden cabins on a hillside overlooking the lake and its own secluded stretch of shoreline for anyone brave enough to take a dip in the glacier water. The Hacienda res Lagos has rooms on Lago Negro and a private pebble each with a sauna and hot tub. You can book excursions on and around Lake General Carerra with one of several activity companies in Puerto Rio Tranquilo. You can go kayaking to the Marble Caves and hiking.


This enchanting village, constructed from wooden boardwalks winding their way around the bay at the mouth of the Baker River, was our southernmost stop along the Carretera Austral. It is a long climb-up moss-covered steps to the Entre Hielos Lodge but it is worth it for tis stylish tranquility.

If you have any questions, don’t hesitate to contact us and we will answer to asap .

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