A wonderland of mountains, fjords, and glaciers awaits on this self-drive journey into the remote Patagonian region of Aysén. Spend a week winding your way along the scenic Carretera Austral, while the spectacular southern highway introduces you to a world of untouched beauty and outdoor adventure. Hike to dramatic summits, soak in natural hot springs, trek through enchanted forests, and discover the marble caves of Capillas de Mármol.

Highlights

  • Explore Patagonia's remote Aysén region
  • Road trip along the spectacular Southern Highway
  • Discover temperate rainforests, ancient glaciers & hot springs
  • Visit the lakeside marble caves of Capillas de Mármol

Brief Itinerary

Day Highlights Overnight
Day 1 Arrive in Balmaceda, Drive to Coyhaique Coyhaique
Day 2 Drive to Puyuhuapi Puyuhuapi
Day 3 Free Day in Puyuhuapi Puyuhuapi
Day 4 Explore Queulat National Park, Drive to Coyhaique Coyhaique
Day 5 Drive to Puerto Río Tranquilo Puerto Río Tranquilo
Day 6 Free Day in Puerto Río Tranquilo Puerto Río Tranquilo
Day 7 Drive to Balmaceda & Depart  

Detailed Itinerary

Day 1: Arrive in Balmaceda, Drive to Coyhaique

Chile's scenic Southern HIghway beckons

Welcome to Chile! Upon arrival at the Balmaceda Airport, you're now in the heart of the remote Aysén region of Patagonia. Collect your rental car and set out for your destination of Coyhaique, 34 miles (55 km) away. This sleepy Patagonian city serves as a gateway to the unspoiled wilderness of the region and sits in the middle of the famous Carretera Austral (Southern Highway)—making it the perfect jumping-off point for your road trip. 

Day 2: Drive to Puyuhuapi

The fjord-side village of Puyuhuapi

Hit the road this morning as you begin your journey north on the Carretera Austral towards Puyuhuapi. Much of the journey consists of extraordinary landscapes of dense forests between mountains and cliffs, so slow down and enjoy the scenery. After about four hours of driving, you'll reach the beautiful village of Puyuhuapi. Nestled at the edge of a tranquil fjord, the town's historic wooden buildings and German-influenced architecture give it a fairytale feel.

Get settled into your accommodations, then spend the rest of the day at your leisure. Head to the hot springs to soothe sore muscles in the famous mineral waters, or explore the exotic forests of the area by horseback. The town is renowned for its handmade weaving work, so don't forget to pick up some souvenirs made of local materials.

Day 3: Free Day in Puyuhuapi

An old wooden footbridge in Puyuhuapi

Today you're free to discover the magnificent landscapes around Puyuhuapi at your leisure. 

This area of the Patagonian Aysén region offers peaceful fjords, incredible botanical diversity, and challenging summits. Take in the fluvial scenery by kayaking through channels and between islands. Be on the lookout for thriving bird colonies, and marine mammals like sea lions and bottlenose dolphins.

If you'd prefer to stay on land, there are plenty of trails through magical forests rich with lichen, fungi, mosses, ferns, and wildflowers. Climb up to high points to get panoramic views of glaciers and lakes, and keep an eye out for the native wildlife— like cougars, Andean condors, and South Andean deer.

Day 4: Explore Queulat National Park, Drive to Coyhaique

The "Enchanted Forest" of Queulat National Park

Spend this morning discovering the nearby Queulat National Park, home to lush, moss-covered forests, hidden waterfalls, and the magnificent Hanging Glacier.  

In the afternoon, you'll get back on the road and make the scenic return drive to Coyhaique, where you'll spend the night.

Day 5: Drive to Puerto Río Tranquilo

Drive towards Lago General Carrera to reach Puerto Río Tranquilo

Today you'll journey 150 miles (241 km) south on the Carretera Austral, stopping at various points of interest along the way. After about five hours of driving, you'll reach your destination of Puerto Río Tranquilo. Located on the shores of Lago General Carrera, this small town is most famous as the base for boat tours to the Capillas de Mármol (Marble Chapels), a network of spectacular marble caves along the lakeshore. 

Day 6: Free Day in to Puerto Río Tranquilo

Take a boat to visit the Capillas de Mármol

Don't miss a visit to the breathtaking caves of Capillas de Mármol today. Formed over thousands of years, the erosion of wind and waves polished the limestone along the lake's edge, forming otherworldly caverns that shine iridescent in the water's reflection. Excursions to the caves are available year-round, by motorboat or kayak.

If you feel like exploring further afield, head to the magnificent Valle Exploradores (Explorer's Valley) in the afternoon. Located about 31 miles (50 km) from Puerto Río Tranquilo, this northern Patagonian valley is home to its namesake glacier, which sits under the shadow of Chilean Patagonia's highest mountain, the 13,313-foot (4,058 m) Monte San Valentin. A moderate hike through dense evergreen forests rewards the adventurous with panoramic views of the glacier, San Valentin, and even the Northern Patagonian Ice Field

Day 7: Drive to Balmaceda & Depart

Breathtaking views along the Carretera Austral

Bid Patagonia farewell today, as you make your north on a six-hour driving journey to the Balmaceda Airport. After one last scenic drive along the Carretera Austral, you'll drop your rental car off at the airport and catch your departing flight. ¡Buen Viaje!

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