Roadtrip Chili 01 Header

Spectacular drive through Chile

Spectacular drive through

Chile

THE CARRETERA AUSTRAL

Fjords, glaciers, rainforests and volcanoes: the Carretera Austral (Southern Road) through Chile’s Northern Patagonia is one of the most spectacular drives in the world. The 1,240-km itinerary, which includes three ferry crossings, is relatively new. The last stretch of road to Villa O’Higgins was only completed in 2000. The motorway begins in the harbour town of Puerto Montt, just one hour and 45 minutes by air from Chile’s capital Santiago.

Roadtrip Chili 02 Intro Map New
Roadtrip Chili 03 Puerto Varas 1 Wide Img
Roadtrip Chili 03 Puerto Varas Bg
Roadtrip Chili 03 Puerto Varas 1 Wide Img

Puerto Varas

OUTDOORS AND COLONIAL

Our itinerary begins in Puerto Varas, a small town just 30 kilometres north of Puerto Montt. This is a magical location, right on Lake Llanquihue and set against the cone of the Osorno volcano. The beautiful Sagrado Corazón church, built by German settlers, stands guard over the town.

In addition to its historic heritage, Puerto Varas is best known for the many outdoor sports opportunities it offers, ranging from rafting and kayaking, to skiing and hiking on a volcano.

Roadtrip Chili 03 Puerto Varas 3 Img
Roadtrip Chili 03 Puerto Varas 2 Map Img
  • Roadtrip Chili 04 Pumalin L Img 1
    imageBROKER / Alamy Stock Photo
  • Roadtrip Chili 04 Pumalin L Img 2
    Novarc Images / Alamy Stock Photo
  • Roadtrip Chili 04 Pumalin L Img 3
    imageBROKER / Alamy Stock Photo

Pumalín National Park

KAYAKING WITH DOLPHINS

Ever since Pumalín Park was established in the early 1990s by an American philanthropist, it has become one of the most popular eco-destinations in Chile. The extraordinary diversity of the unique “Valdivian” rainforest includes the last remaining alerce trees, one of the oldest tree species in the world. The spectacular Comao and Reñihué fjords are perfect for kayaking amongst dolphins, sea lions and sometimes even whales. Hiking trails through the dense rainforest lead walkers to volcanoes and waterfalls.

Roadtrip Chili 05 Puerto Chacabuco 1 Wide Img
Roadtrip Chili 05 Puerto Chacabuco 1 Wide Img
Roadtrip Chili 05 Puerto Chacabuco 3 Img
Roadtrip Chili 05 Puerto Chacabuco 4 Img
Roadtrip Chili 05 Puerto Chacabuco 2 Map

The San Rafael lagoon

THE ROARING GLACIER

Continue the drive to Puerto Chacabuco for a boat tour on the majestic San Rafael lagoon. The biggest attraction in the lagoon is the ice tongue of the enormous glacier. Gigantic chunks of ice regularly calve away from the glacier, crashing with an ominous roar into the water.

This impressive sight must be viewed from a safe distance as the falling ice chunks can easily create a small tsunami in the lagoon.

Roadtrip Chili 06 Road Stroke Img

Coyhaique

BUSTLING DESTINATION

Take a break from nature and splendid isolation in the lively regional centre of Coyhaique, nestled at the confluence of the Río Simpson and Río Coyhaique.

Enjoy this opportunity to stock up on supplies for the rest of the drive and visit the Museo Regional de la Patagonia. This museum highlights the history of the region with displays of photos and artefacts from the days of the early pioneers until the construction of the Carretera Austral in the late 1970s and early 1980s. There’s no need to hit the hay early as restaurants and bars in this modern city stay open late.

Roadtrip Chili 07 Coyhaique 3 Img
Leonid Plotkin / Alamy Stock Photo
Roadtrip Chili 07 Coyhaique 1 Map
Roadtrip Chili 07 Coyhaique 2 Img
Roadtrip Chili 07 Lago General Carrera 1 Wide Img
Roadtrip Chili 07 Lago General Carrera 1 Wide Img
Roadtrip Chili 07 Lago General Carrera 1 Map

Lago General Carrera

A MARBLE MAZE

Lago General Carrera is the second largest lake in South America and extends into Argentina. It is framed by jagged mountain peaks that form stunning marble formations near the shore of the lake. Over the course of thousands of years, the rugged climate in this region has moulded these formations into deep mazes the size of chapels and cathedrals made of white, blue and pink marble.

Most visitors come here to board a boat at Puerto Tranquilo and visit the spectacular site of Las Cavernas de Mármol. Teeming with salmon and trout, this deep lake is also a popular destination for anglers.

Roadtrip Chili 07 Lago General Carrera 2 Img
Roadtrip Chili 07 Lago General Carrera 3 Img
Roadtrip Chili 08 Caleta Tortel Wide
Roadtrip Chili 09 Caleta Tortel 2 Img
Roadtrip Chili 09 Caleta Tortel 3 Img
Roadtrip Chili 09 Caleta Tortel 1 Map

Caleta Tortel

TRADITIONAL VILLAGE

The exit from the Carretera Austral to the traditional fishing village Caleta Tortel was only completed in 2003 – until then the village was only accessible by boat. Today, the modern world is still light years away. Located between two ice sheets at the mouth of the Baker River, the village has no cell-phone towers, banks or ATMs.

The paved road only goes as far as the edge of the village. To continue, follow a network of canals and boardwalks that connect the traditional houses built on stilts. This unique architecture has earned the picturesque village a national heritage designation.

KLM

iFly Magazine

Road trips

Turn up the volume for the
best experience