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A self-drive on the Carretera Austral is the ultimate road trip. This is a truly unique adventure in one of the world’s last wildernesses.
You’ll start your trip in Santiago, Chile's bustling and vibrant capital, before heading south to Puerto Montt. You’ll then pick up your car and drive through the iconic Carretera Austral – the name given to Chile’s Route 7, which runs south to Villa O’Higgins for about 770 miles. You'll marvel at majestic mountain ranges and incredible wildlife roaming freely along the highway, all at your own pace so you can stop as often as you like to contemplate the truly outstanding and picturesque scenery.
Days 1 & 2 - Santiago
Day 3 - Santiago – Puerto Montt – Hornopiren
Day 4 - Hornopiren – Caleta Gonzalo
Day 5 - Caleta Gonzalo and Pumalín Park
Day 6 - Caleta Gonzalo – Risopatrón Lake – El Pangue
Day 7 - El Pangue – Queulat National Park – Coyhaique
Day 8 - Coyhaique – Puerto Río Tranquilo
Day 9 - Puerto Río Tranquilo
Day 10 - Puerto Río Tranquilo – Caleta Tortel
Day 11 - Caleta Tortel – General Carrera Lake
Day 12 - General Carrera Lake - Balmaceda
Day 13 - Transfer to Santiago for your onward flight
Add international flights to Chile from the UK from £699 per person
Price based on departures in 2020 and 2021, 2 people sharing a room. See price tab for detailed information.
Any element of this holiday can be tailormade to your requirements, including the places you want to see and the things that are important to you. Just contact one of our Travel Specialists today.
Arrive in Santiago and will be met by a guide for a private transfer to your hotel. The Chilean capital is a modern, clean and bustling city framed by the snow-capped peaks of the Andes. The city has a colonial atmosphere due to its architecture and a number of small squares and parks. There is also a thriving restaurant scene in the city with no end to the number of great places you can find to eat.
Puerto Montt – Hornopiren (62 miles)
Upon arrival, you’ll pick up your car at the Puerto Montt Airport and start this fantastic trip along the Carretera Austral. You will pass the towns of Chamiza and Metri before arriving at the ferry crossing at Caleta La Arena. After a 45-minute boat trip, you will arrive at Caleta Puelche. From there, you'll continue driving through Patagonia's natural beauty for approximately 2 hours until you reach the settlement of Hornopiren.
From Hornopiren, you'll board the ferry to Leptepu. The journey will take approximately 3 hours during which you will be able to observe impressive views of the Andes Mountain Range and Patagonian Fjords. After arriving in Leptepu, you’ll take a short drive to your final ferry that will transport you to Caleta Gonzalo.
You’ll have the day to explore your surroundings and the Pumalín Park at your own pace. Designated a nature sanctuary in 2005, it is Chile's largest private nature reserve and is operated as a public access park. The conservation area not only provides a spectacular wilderness experience but also protects the area's threatened ecosystem and species.
Today’s drive will take you further south along the humid evergreen forests of Northern Patagonia, passing the marvellous Lago Yelcho and the town of La Junta. Your final destination for the day will be Risopatrón Lake.
Drive southbound witnessing ever-changing landscapes. During the day, stop and visit the Queulat National Park and the Ventisquero Hanging Glacier for spectacular natural scenery before continuing on towards the city of Coyhaique, the capital of the Aysen region.
This dry region will gradually give way to green forests, and you'll cross the famous pass leading to the Cerro Castillo National Park. Continue south towards Puerto Río Tranquilo where you'll spend the night.
Day 9: Puerto Río Tranquilo
Today you will have the day at leisure to explore your surroundings. A hike to the Exploradores Valley and its lookout point is highly recommended, as from there you'll be able to observe an impressive glacier, and in the afternoon you can’t miss a visit to the famous Marble Caves. Please note both suggested excursions are not included.
After about an 8-hour drive, you will reach the hamlet of Caleta Tortel. The surrounding landscape is rugged, formed by a number of islands, fjords, channels and estuaries. The town itself consists mainly of stilt houses built along the coast, and there are no conventional streets – instead of having only wooden walkways.
Today’s drive will take you back up north. Along the way, you’ll stop to visit either the Tamango National Reserve (named after its awe-inspiring hills Tamango and Tamanquito (respectively 5649 ft and 4872 ft above sea level) or the Chacabuco Valley.
Day 12: General Carrera Lake - Balmaceda
You will have the entire day to enjoy and discover your surroundings. General Carrera Lake is the biggest in Chile and is home to several outdoor activities including hiking, horseback riding and fishing. If you wish, you can also adventure out to visit the town of Chile Chico, located near the Argentinean border.
Day 13: Transfer to Santiago for your onward flight
Today you will be met by your driver and taken to the airport for your international flight back home (Private transfer without guide).
(2020-21 departures, based on 2 people sharing a room)
International flights to Chile from the UK start from £699 per person
Send an enquiry and your travel specialist can find you the best available options from your local airport
12 nights’ accommodation as detailed
Transfers and tours as per itinerary
11 days car hire with unlimited mileage (4WD)
Full insurance cover
Road map and directions
International flights if not added
Meals not indicated in your itinerary
Local departure taxes payable locally
Where applicable locally payable car hire related charges
Items of a personal nature such as laundry and drinks etc
Tips for guides and drivers (discretionary)
Camera or video fees at any sites
Our Truly Individual Holidays allow you to choose the destinations, inclusions & budget
Our Escorted Small Group Tours offer fantastic itineraries, travelling with like-minded people
Winner of 'Best Tour Operator' at the 2019 & 2018 L.A.T.A. Achievement Awards
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