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Carretera Austral road trip adventure

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13 days / 12 nights
san rafael glacier

Carretera Austral road trip adventure

  • 13-day trip
  • Ideal for: families, couples, groups
  • icon voiture circuit autotour chili
    Self-driving tour
  • Difficulty : moderate
  • Style: off the beaten path, adventure, road trip
  • Minimum : 2 travelers

This ultimate road trip in Northern Chilean Patagonia will take you on the legendary Carretera Austral

Your travel adventure will follow the famous “Ruta 7″ from off-the-beaten path treasures to breathtaking experiences in the secret Patagonia. Carretera Austral will no doubt seduce you with its magnificent landscapes and fresh air, but you will also have the chance to marvel at glaciers from small boats, away from the crowds. For a perfect finish, this itinerary takes you into Casablanca wine valley and down the artsy streets of Valparaíso in front of the Pacific Ocean.

Enjoy and experience every possible meaning of the word “adventure” during this 13-day itinerary: rafting, kayaking, wildlife observation, horseback riding, and even a glacier hike!

 

Map
What to Expect

Here is an ideal 2-week itinerary for those who want to discover Patagonia far from throngs of tourists and who are looking for authenticity in their trip. This self-driving itinerary on the legendary Carretera Austral promises a stay filled with unique activities, changes of scenery, and stunning landscapes.

Double rooms are provided in authentic accommodations or cabañas in the middle of the wilderness. Discover the Austral Road and all of its magic!

A family-friendly journey filled with new experiences awaits you:

  • Horseback riding with gauchos
  • Kayaking to the marble caves
  • Relaxation by Lake General Carrera
  • Rafting on the Rio Baker
  • Cruising to San Rafael Glacier
  • Wine tasting in Casablanca valley
  • Discovering Chilean culture in Valparaiso
Photos
Itinerary

Day 1Meet Santiago de Chile

Welcome to Chile! Upon arrival, your driver will take you from the airport to your hotel.

During the afternoon, you are free to explore the Chilean capital, on foot and by metro, as you please. we suggest to taking the funicular to San Cristobal Hill, enjoying a drink in the trendy Bellavista district, or strolling through the historic center…the choice is yours!

For families, we recommend the Bellavista district, a bohemian neighborhood with a young, relaxed atmosphere filled with street art. Located at the foot of San Cristobal Hill, it is a collection of colorful streets and trendy bars and restaurants

Overnight: Casa Bellavista, Santiago de Chile.

Day 2On the way to the hidden Patagonia

Your driver will pick you up in the morning to take you to the airport. You will then take the plane to Balmaceda, arriving in the middle of the day on the mystical austral route. Your road trip adventure is about to begin!

At Balmaceda airport, your rental Jeep will be waiting for you. Hop on the Carretera Austral and head to Coyhaique, a 45-minute-drive.

Discover the city in the afternoon or take advantage of the hotel’s facilities to familiarize yourself with the peaceful atmosphere of Northern Patagonia. Some travelers might like decompress in the surrounding nature, while others may prefer to curl up in the cozy hotel with a good book.

Overnight: Cerro Negro Lodge, Coyhaique.

Day 3RIde horseback in the Cerro Castillo reserve

For this leg of the road trip on Carretera Austral, head to Villa Cerro Castillo. The road is paved from Coyhaique, for a 60-mile journey south. Once you leave the pastures, you will climb quickly towards the Cerro Castillo mountain. It is aptly named: it resembles a real fortified castle with sharp peaks, flanked by large glaciers. It is an impressive sight to behold!

Enjoy a traditional stay at Villa Cerro Castillo, a pioneer village (be careful, there is no gas station here!).

In the afternoon, we recommend a real local experience: a 3-hour horseback ride with real “gauchos” (local cowboys) and a tasting of “cordero al palo” (traditional barbecue). It will entertain travelers both young and old, under the shadows of the Patagonian mountains!

Overnight: Chalet Cerro Castillo, Villa Cerro Castillo.

Day 4On the road to Puerto Tranquilo

Puerto Tranquilo is a modest town located on the shores of the massive, impressive Lake General Carrera. By traveling the Carretera Austral road, the lake will be your faithful companion for more than 60 miles! Emerald green waters and attractive vegetation characterize Lake General Carrera, the second largest in South America.

We recommend visiting the amazing marble caves by kayak. Your youngest family members will definitely be thrilled by this activity!

Overnight: El Puesto, Puerto Rio Tranquilo.

Day 5Walk on a glacier

To discover the Explorador Glacier, we suggest an ice trek that takes place 30 miles west of Puerto Tranquilo, in the Exploradores valley.

Once again, this unique activity off the beaten path will be a wonderful memory for the whole family! What better way to explore a glacier than to hike on top of it? You will discover natural wonders up-close during this action-packed experience.

Overnight: Cabañas Konaiken, Puerto Bertrand.

Day 6Raft on the Río Baker

Start your day with a gentle rafting trip down the Río Baker. This activity can be enjoyed by the whole family and the landscapes are magnificent! It will definitely leave you with unforgettable memories of the Carretera Austral.

Then, take the road to Cochrane, and stop at the confluence of the Río Baker. A short walk will take you to a superb viewpoint where a 32-foot waterfall clearly displays the stark contrast between the turquoise waters of the Rio Baker pouring into the paler green waters of the Rio Neff. It only adds to the already  beautiful panoramic view. From Puerto Bertrand to Cochrane, allow for a 1-hour drive, 30 miles of unpaved road.

Overnight: Borde Baker Lodge, Cochrane.

Day 7Discover Patagonia Park and its fauna

In the heart of this sublime valley, a new private park has emerged thanks to the Tompkins, who have endowed the creation of Pumalín Park north of Chaitén. A visit to the Patagonia National Park will allow you to enjoy superb landscapes and observe local fauna (condors, rheas, foxes, vizcachas, ducks, guanacos, flamingos, swans and–with some luck–huemules).

Arriving at the park is impressive: you will find yourself face-to-face with dozens of guanacos! Children will be enchanted by the surrounding wildlife and you will have a memorable time full of natural discoveries.

Overnight: Terra Luna Lodge, Puerto Guadal.

Day 8Day of rest and relaxation

Enjoy a free day to rest and take advantage of the lodge’s wellness facilities: hot tub, sauna, etc. Adults can take in some much-need pampering, while younger travelers can explore the lodge’s great natural spaces.

If resting is not your cup of tea and you want more outdoor activities, you can take one of the excursions offered by the hotel: trekking, boat tour, zip-lining, helicopter tour, ice trekking, kayaking, canoeing, discovering nature reserves, easy or medium walks, horseback riding, mountain biking, fishing…there is definitely something for everyone!

If you have not had enough of the glaciers, we can arrange a full-day excursion by boat to the Glacier Los Leones!

Overnight: Terra Luna Lodge, Puerto Guadal.

Day 9Around Lake General Carrera

Enjoy a free morning to rest and relax as a family before heading on to the next leg of your journey!

In the middle of the day, you will take the road to Chile Chico. Chile Chico is a welcoming town located on the south shores of Lake General Carrera, close to nature.

Take the opportunity to swim in the lake and fill your lungs with fresh air! 

Overnight: Costanera Apart, Chile Chico.

Day 10Return to Chile's capital


This pleasant 2.5-hour navigation will allow you to reach the small lost settlement of Puerto General Ibañez from Chile Chico. From the water, the views are truly breathtaking. 

As the final step of your travel on the Austral Route, take a 1.5-hour drive to reach Balmaceda airport. Then, you will board your internal flight to Santiago, which is where the family road trip ends. However, there is still plenty of adventure left on this trip! Upon your arrival in Santiago, your private driver will take you directly to Valparaíso, the gem of the Pacific.

 
Overnight: Fauna Hotel, Valparaiso.

Day 11Explore Valparaíso's culture

For your first full day in the bohemian city harbor of Valparaíso, we recommend that you explore the Concepción and Alegre Hills by foot, at your own pace.

You will discover narrow, winding streets, take the historic elevators, and enjoy the panoramic views from the many lookouts. Our map will guide you step by step, unless you prefer to take a guided donation-based tour or hire a private guide.

Overnight: Fauna Hotel, Valparaíso.

Day 12Taste Chile's wine in Casablanca valley

Enjoy a free morning to visit the museum of the beloved poet Pablo Neruda on the top of a beautiful hill. On the way down, do not miss the open air museum, with its colorful graffiti. 

Back at your hotel, your private transfer will drive you to the world-class wine valley of Casablanca. Situated between the mountains, you will enjoy a delicious lunch in a traditional Chilean vineyard. You will also visit the winery and taste the famous wines of Chile. This is an essential Chilean gastronomic and cultural experience! 

Your driver will then transport you back to Santiago, where you can continue your visit of the capital.

Overnight: Casa Bellavista, Santiago de Chile.

Day 13Goodbye, beautiful Chile!

Enjoy a final walk in Santiago before taking off. 

Your driver will pick you up to take you to the airport, where you will then depart on your flight back home.

Have a safe trip!

Recommended Airport

Santiago international airport

Price Includes

  • 13 nights in typical private rooms with bathroom
  • 10-day Jeep rental
  • 2 local flights per person
  • High quality activities: rafting, horseback riding, glacier navigation, ice trekking, kayaking
  • Private transfer to and from Santiago airport
  • Ferry on Lake General Carrera
  • A customized travel guide
  • A dedicated local contact

Price Excludes

  • International flights
  • Extra activities
  • Fuel
  • Tips