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 to enjoy a drive along part of the iconic Carretera Austral – Chile’s Southern Highway. You'll marvel at majestic mountain ranges and incredible wildlife, 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 - Coyhaique
Day 13 - Balmaceda – Santiago
Day 14 - Transfer to Santiago airport for your onward flight
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.
Upon arrival at Santiago airport you will be met and taken 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. We highly recommend you explore the thriving restaurant scene, with an array of options available.
After breakfast, you will be transferred to the airport for your flight to Puerto Montt.
Puerto Montt – Hornopiren (62 miles)
Upon arrival, you’ll pick up your car 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 to Caleta Puelche, you will the continue driving through Patagonia's natural beauty for approximately 2 hours until you reach the town of Hornopiren.
Enjoy a 3-hour ferry ride to Leptepu, observing impressive views of the Andes Mountain Range and Patagonian Fjords. After arriving in Leptepu, you’ll take a short drive to your final ferry which will take you to Caleta Gonzalo.
Take the day to explore your surroundings at your own pace. We recommend visiting Pumalín Park, Chile's largest private nature reserve. 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.
Continue south, witnessing ever-changing landscapes. To break up your drive we recommend visiting the Queulat National Park and the spectacular Ventisquero Hanging Glacier, before continuing on towards the city of Coyhaique.
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.
Today you will have the day at leisure. A hike to the Exploradores Valley and its lookout point, from where you can observe an impressive glacier, is highly recommended. A visit to the Marble Caves would be a great activity for the afternoon.
After about an 8-hour drive, you will reach the unique village on stilts, Caleta Tortel. As there are only wooden pedestrian walkways, the village is inaccessible by road so you will leave your car just outside and take a gentle 2.5km walk down the staircases.
Today you will start to head back up north. On your way to General Carrera Lake we recommend stopping to visit either the Tamango National Reserve or the Chacabuco Valley, both part of the relatively new Patagonia National Park. Marvel at the stunning scenery that is part of the world’s most ambitious rewilding project.
We recommend you spend your morning exploring your surroundings, General Carrera Lake is the biggest lake in Chile and is home to several outdoor activities including hiking, horseback riding and fishing. As the lake is shared by both Chile and Argentina, you could add another country to your trip and drive north east around the lake and into Argentina before making your way back into Chile.
According to your flight schedule you will drive from Coyahqiue to Balmaceda Airport and drop-off your car. After arrival at Santiago Airport a private transfer will take you to your hotel.
You will be taken to Santiago Airport for your onward flight.
(2022 departures, based on 2 people sharing a room. 2023 prices from £3,599 pp)
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
13 nights’ accommodation
13 meals: 13 breakfasts
11 days car hire with unlimited mileage (4WD)
Full insurance cover
Road map and directions
One-way car drop off fee
Transfers and domestic flights as per itinerary
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 'Tour Operator of the Year - Small' at the 2021 Travel Industry Awards by TTG
Winner of 'Best Tour Operator' at the 2019 & 2018 L.A.T.A. Achievement Awards
All of our holidays are ATOL protected (11104), for your complete peace of mind