Chile road trip along the Carretera Austral

Trip ideas
Duration (in days): 9

From: Balmaceda

To: Puerto Montt



Exc. International flights (per person, based on 2 sharing) 
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This Chile road trip takes you on a scenic journey through Patagonia on South America’s best-known highway, the Carretera Austral.

The very word Patagonia conjures up images of untamed wilderness and vast expanses of pristine beauty, and that’s exactly what you’ll encounter; magnificent lakes, towering peaks, marble caves, fjords and glaciers – all in a region that’s barely touched by tourism, so it remains unspoiled. Take things at your own pace, stopping to picnic on a lake shore when the fancy takes you, and with 2-night stays in some places so you can ditch the car and explore by foot on a trek. All you need to pack is some outdoors clothes, a good camera and a sense of adventure – and let Patagonia do the rest!

This Chile itinerary can be tailored to suit your requirements, please contact one of our consultants to start planning your dream trip.


  • Drive the Carretera Austral, South America’s most famous highway
  • Picnic on the shores of Patagonia’s deep blue lakes
  • Explore the stunning marble caves near Puerto Tranquilo
  • Visit immense natural parks of outstanding beauty
  • Trek in Pumalin Park, South America’s largest national park
  • Take a ferry through a Chilean Fjord in Patagonia



Itinerary in brief:

  • 2 nights in Puerto Guadal
  • 1 night in Coyhaique
  • 1 night in Puyuhuapi
  • 1 night in Futaleufú
  • 2 nights in Caleta Gonzalo
  • 1 night in Hornopirén


Day 1: Arrive in Balmaceda        

(As there is a quite a long drive today, we recommend that you spend a few days in Santiago relaxing before your flight and journey today - talk to us for ideas to extend this trip)

On arrival at Balmaceda airport, make your way to the car rental office to pick up your rental vehicle. Leave the airport and head northwest on route 245 until you reach Route 7, the Carretera Austral to begin your Chile road trip adventure!

On route to Puerto Guadal (about a 250km drive), you’ll pass Cerro Castillo National Park and General Carrera Lake. Once you arrive, check into your accommodation for a two-night stay.

Day 2: Puerto Guadal

You have a day to explore Puerto Guadal and its surroundings. If you want a full-day activity, we suggest visiting Baker River and Patagonia National Park, or perhaps a jet boat ride to Los Leones Glacier.  

Day 3: Coyhaique      

This morning we recommend an early start and a stop in Bahia Mansa, before Puerto Tranquilo. Here you can take a boat out to the stunning Marble Caves. From here, continue north along the Carretera Austral to Coyhaique where you will check into your hotel for a one-night stay. Today’s travel distance is about 275km.   

Day 4: Puyuhuapi      

Today, leave Coyhaique and head northwest onto the Carretera. You will pass Coyhaique National Reserve and Lago Las Torres National Reserve. We suggest stopping by the lake for a break and to admire the breath-taking landscapes. Puyuhaupi is located where Rio Pascal enters the fjord, the perfect place to relax! The journey today will be around 250 km - when you arrive in Puyuhuapi check into your hotel for a one-night stay.

Day 5: Futaleufú        

Today you will cover another 200km of beautiful Patagonia. Head north on the Carretera, passing several stunning parks and lakes including Lago Rosselot National Reserve and Yelcho Lake. When you reach Futaleufú, check into your hotel for a one-night stay. Futaleufú is famous for outdoor sports especially white water rafting, mountain biking, trekking and canyoning. If you feel adventurous, let us know if you want to add any of these activities.    

Day 6: Caleta Gonzalo        

Drive 210km to Caleta Gonzalo, in Pumalin National Park. On the way, you will pass by the towns of Puerto Cardenas and Chaitén where you could stop for a break. When you arrive in Caleta Gonzalo, check into your hotel for two nights.

Day 7: Caleta Gonzalo

You have a full day to explore the area, so why not visit the park and do some trekking for an authentic wilderness experience? Pumalin Park was a private nature reserve created by business magnate Douglas Tompkins, and in 2017 it was expanded and donated to the Chilean state to become part of South America’s largest national park. 

Day 8: Hornopirén     

Today will be another dramatic day combing a little driving with two ferry journeys. The journey is stunning, and you will be able to appreciate the beauty of Patagonia from its fjords. When you arrive in Hornopirén, drive to your hotel where you will check in for a one-night stay.

Day 9: Depart Puerto Montt

We recommend leaving early to be on time for your flight from Puerto Montt. Drive approximately 70km to reach Caleta Puelche where you will board a ferry to Caleta La Arena. After the boat, its a 60km drive to Puerto Montt airport. When you arrive, drop off the car and connect with your onward travel plans.


For better weather and road conditions we suggest to avoid the Patagonian winter and travel between late September and early April.          

This itinerary is purely a suggestion and can be tailor-made to your requirements, so please contact us with your dates and requests, and we’ll put together a bespoke quotation for you.

What's included: 

  • 8 nights accommodation with daily breakfast
  • 9 days rental car RAV4 or similar
  • Accessory insurance SACA
  • Personal accident insurance PAI
  • Self-drive information map
  • Ferry Caleta Gonzalo-Hornopirén

Not included: 

  • Flights
  • Any meals not mentioned
  • Any excursions not mentioned
  • Personal expenses
  • Tips & gratuities
  • Entrance fees


Eight nights in 3* standard accommodation.

Hotels in this category include:

  • Terra Luna Lodge

  • Hotel Belisario Jara

  • Hosteria Alemana

  • La Gringa Carioca B&B

  • Cabañas Caleta Gonzalo

  • Hosteria Catalina
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