The distance between Santiago and Puerto Río Tranquilo is 1,370 miles (11,775 km). Getting there requires a 2.5-hour flight to Calama, plus 5-6 hours on the road from there via a private transfer, rental car, or bus. The drive takes place on the Carretera Austral (Route 7), one of the most scenic roads in the world.
This 5-day itinerary takes you from Santiago to Puerto Río Tranquilo, including a visit to the Marble Caves and a boat trip to Laguna San Rafael National Park.
By Plane and Rental Car
Duration: 8 hours
Getting from Santiago to Puerto Río Tranquilo by plane, and then renting a car for the remaining journey is the best option. This is because it's the fastest way to get to Puerto Río Tranquilo and lets you see a lot of great things along the way.
Begin your journey by taking a flight from Santiago International Airport (SCL) to Balmaceda. This will take approximately 2-2.5 hours. Pick up your car at the airport and then begin to drive on Route 245 for about 10-15 minutes. Continue on Route 7 (Carretera Austral) and if you haven't yet then make a stop at the Cerro Castillo National Reserve for a few hours or a day.
When you leave the park, continue on the same route and you'll arrive at Bahía Murta located by the Río Ibáñez where you'll find gorgeous landscape views. From here you can expect approximately one hour of driving before reaching Puerto Río Tranquilo. The total time of this journey is eight hours and up to a day if you make longer stops, especially if you spend time at the Cerro Castillo National Reserve.
By Plane and Private Transfer
Duration: 8 hours
Combining a flight with a private transfer has the same route as flying and then driving your own car. The only main difference is that it's usually a direct ride without the stops—except for stretching your legs and sometimes stepping out for some snacks. This trip takes eight hours with 2.5 hours spent on a plane and 5-6 hours in a car.
By Plane and Bus
Duration: 9 hours
The third option to get from Santiago to Puerto Río Tranquilo is to take a flight to Calama and then continue by bus. This journey takes approximately nine hours in total and will take you via Calama, Balmaceda, and Coyhaique.
This is the least recommended option because of its many transfers but it can still be made into a fun trip. To make the most of it, you can exit the bus and spend a night in each city. Calama, for example, is the gateway to the Atacama Desert. Coyhaique is known for being close to the Simpson River National Reserve—another magical place in Chile with great hiking trails and scenery. Balmaceda is instead near one of Chile's most visited places—Cerro Castillo National Reserve with its famous peak Cerro Castillo.
After a 2.5 hour flight from Santiago to Calama, you'll take the bus to Balmaceda which lasts two hours. The next bus to Coyhaique will take about one hour and for the last part of the journey to Purto Río Tranquilo, you can expect two hours with a shuttle, taxi, or a transfer.