Chile

Southern Carretera Austral Tour

7 days | 6 nights
Private tour
From 2570USD per person
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Tour Description

A 1,240 km road that connects its northernmost point of Puerto Montt in the Chilean Lake District to its southernmost point of Villa O’Higgins and the surrounding remote communities of the Chilean Patagonia, cruising along the Carretera Austral is the ultimate road journey that takes you to the ends of the Earth.

This 7-day Patagonia private tour begins with a visit to the nation's cosmopolitan capital of Santiago, where you'll tour the government offices and historic landmarks to gain an understanding of the country's storied past and cultural identity.

See the city from above as you stand atop San Cristóbal Hill before catching a domestic flight and making your way south on the famously long Carretera Austral, where over 1,000 km of pristine natural wonders await discovery. Encompassing narrow hairpin turns on the sometimes unpaved highway, navigating the Carretera Austral remains a challenge. But as it's beautifully situated beneath jagged mountain tops and alongside glacial streams, the unkemptness of the dirt and gravelly highway simply adds to the charm.

This road journey through Northern Patagonia introduces you to the dazzling hues of aquamarine and curiously shaped natural rock formations of General Carrera Lake, the raw beauty of Patagonia National Park, the small but characterful settlements on the route, and the extreme elements of Patagonia's untamed wild as you marvel at O'Higgins Glacier.

Beginning and ending in vibrant Santiago, this Chile tour is designed for intrepid explorers and anyone with a deep appreciation for pristine landscapes.

Destinations

Patagonia

Trip at a glance

Visits

SANTIAGO: La Moneda, Plaza de Armas, Central Post Office, Metropolitan Cathedral, Central Market, San Cristóbal Hill

CARRETERA AUSTRAL: Chiguay Lake, Piedra del Conde, Cuesta del Diablo, Ibañez River Valley, Cerro Castillo Village, Puerto Rio Tranquilo, Marble Caves, Puerto Bertrand, Patagonia National Park, Villa O'Higgins, Bahamondes Bay

SOUTHERN PATAGONIAN ICE FIELD: Lago de Los Glaciares, O'Higgins Glacier, Baker River

Trip details

Itinerary

Day 1 ARRIVAL IN SANTIAGO

Morning

Meet and greet your private English speaking guide upon arriving at Santiago International Airport, and transfer to your downtown hotel to drop off your luggage.

Dynamic and cosmopolitan, the capital of Chile enjoys a picturesque location at the foot of the Andes, its snow capped peaks a dramatic backdrop for Santiago's 32 distinct autonomous municipalities. Each embodying its own unique characteristics, Santiago embraces you with diversity as you discover neighborhoods dedicated to sophisticated art galleries, energetic nightlife and burgeoning food scene, and historic downtown where you're invited to learn about the country's history from its collection of museums and government buildings. As the cultural and economic heart of Chile, Santiago presents you with a sound introduction to the nation.

Afternoon

After you've settled at the hotel, embark on a private city tour with your guide. Start at La Moneda, inaugurated in 1805 as Chile's royal mint before serving as the seat of the president, and take in the building's elegant neoclassical facades. Tour La Moneda's inner courtyards, one of which is flanked by two 18th century canons at its entrance. Relive the 1973 military coup when Augusto Pinochet violently took power for 17 years, then continue to Plaza de Armas - the bustling heart of the city surrounded by government offices and historical buildings. Tour the Central Post Office and the Metropolitan Cathedral, and continue to the Central Market, which offers an extensive variety of fresh produce. Along the Parque Forestal, make your way to San Cristóbal Hill, Santiago's second-highest point, to admire a bird's eye view of the city.

Evening

Enjoy the evening at leisure.

Overnight at your hotel in Santiago.

Day 2 FLIGHT TO BALMACEDA, CHIGAY LAKE, PIEDRA DEL CONDE, MARBLE CAVES

Morning

Begin with an early morning transfer to Santiago International Airport for your flight to Balmaceda.

From here, begin your journey south on the famously long Carretera Austral, in which you'll discover Chiguay Lake and Piedra del Conde among a wealth of natural features.

Continue to Cuesta del Diablo, passing by Portazuelo Ibañez, and revel in the sweeping panoramas of Ibañez River Valley and the frosted peaks that surround it as you stand on the steep slopes of Cuesta del Diablo.

Journey onward to Cerro Castillo Village, the vibrant capital of the Commune of Torres del Paine and the gateway to one of the nation's most treasured national parks. Though the paved road ends here, the journey continues south past Murta River before reaching Puerto Rio Tranquilo. A base for the outdoorsy that's quickly gaining popularity, a stop in this village will grant you access to General Carrera Lake, in which its turquoise waters are shared between Chile and Argentina.

From General Carrera Lake, sail to Marble Caves, a series of whimsical calcium carbonate formations, sculpted by the natural forces of wind and waves. The 3 main formations nicknamed the Cathedral, the Chapel and the Cave are designated Nature’s Sanctuary and considered to be a protected natural area.

After your 1.15-hour boat trip, continue south for another 67 km on the Carretera Austral, hugging the pristine shorelines of General Carrera Lake to Puerto Bertrand.

Afternoon

Afternoon at leisure. 

Evening

Free evening. 

Overnight in your lodge at Puerto Bertrand. 

MEALS
  • Breakfast at the hotel

Day 3 BEKER & NEFF RIVERS JUNCTION, PATAGONIA NATIONAL PARK, VILLA O'HIGGINS, MITCHELL FJORD

Morning

Travel a total of 286 km on gravel roads today, spread out over a 6-hour journey. Begin by heading south from your Lodge, and cruise along the Carretera Austral to the junction of the Baker and Neff Rivers.

From there, continue 50 km to Cochrane, a bustling village on the south of this winding road, and a popular hub for water activity, as Lago Cochrane and Río Cochrane provide plenty of opportunities for kayaking and boating.

Afternoon

Travel 5 km to the Tamango Sector of Patagonia National Park for a 20-minute boat trip and a short hike. Keep your eyes peeled for sightings of huemuls, a south Andean deer native to the mountains of Chile and Argentina.

Reach Puerto Yungay for your ferry to Rio Bravo, crossing the Mitchell Fjord to reach Villa O’Higgins. After lunch in a local restaurant, spend the remainder of the afternoon at leisure.

Evening

Free evening.

Overnight at your lodge in Villa O'Higgins. 

MEALS
  • Breakfast at the hotel

Day 4 SOUTHERN PATAGONIA ICE FIELD, O'HIGGINS GLACIER, LOS GLACIARES LAKE

Morning

Transfer to Bahamondes Bay and board a boat to the base of the Southern Patagonian Ice Fields, the largest of the South American icefields with an area of 13,000 square km. Stretching 350 km in length, the weather that encompasses this vast icy tundra is often adverse, and its strong and cold winds make this one of the least explored mountain regions of the world.

Spend your day exploring the turquoise lagoons and the mesmerizing glaciers that carved this expanse of land, and experience the unforgiving elements that make this environment so desolate. With your guide, cross the Lago de Los Glaciares and witness O'Higgins Glacier. Aptly nicknamed the Great Glacier, this is one of the largest glaciers in the Southern Hemisphere.

Afternoon

While making your way to O'Higgins Glacier, you'll stop briefly at Candelario Mancilla, a tiny settlement along the shores of Lago O'Higgins, some 16 km away from the Argentine border.

Evening

Free evening.

Overnight at your lodge in Villa O'Higgins. 

MEALS
  • Breakfast at the hotel

Day 5 BAKER RIVER, ROAD TO PUERTO GUADAL

Morning

Retrace your journey by heading north from Villa O'Higgins on the same route you came, and stop on the banks of Baker River, Chile's largest river measured by the volume of water. Its contents fed by General Carrera Lake and recognized for its dazzling hues of turquoise, Baker River is a playground for water activities like fly fishing and kayaking.

Spend 2 hours rafting on the waters of Baker River on an optional excursion, and easily spot schools of rainbow trout in its crystal waters on your adventure. 

Afternoon

Then continue to Puerto Guadal for lunch in a local restaurant.

End of the afternoon free. 

Evening

Free evening.

Overnight at your lodge in Puerto Guadal. 

MEALS
  • Breakfast at the hotel

Day 6 BALMACEDA TO SANTIAGO FLIGHT

Morning

Depart for Balmaceda Airport for your flight to Santiago. Break up the car journey by stopping at a local restaurant in Cerro Castillo Village for lunch.

Afternoon

Board your afternoon flight to Santiago, and transfer to your hotel upon arrival with a private English speaking guide.

Evening

Enjoy an evening at leisure in Santiago.

Overnight at the hotel. 

MEALS
  • Breakfast at the hotel

Day 7 DEPARTURE

Your 7-day Chile tour ends with a transfer to Santiago International Airport, where your guide will assist with check-in for your onward journey.

MEALS
  • Breakfast at the hotel

Video

Services

What's included

Accommodation

Nights
2 hotel nights in Santiago, 4 nights in a lodge in the Carretera Austral

Meals

Bed & Breakfast plan
6 breakfasts

Transportation

Boat
Boat Excursion in Patagonia National Park and to O'higgins Glacier
Car
Private car and driver during the whole trip

Orientation

Guide
Private English-speaking guide for all mentioned visits

Entrance Fees

Entrance fees to all mentioned sites

What's not included

  • Domestic Flights
    • Santiago to Balmaceda
    • Balmaceda to Santiago
  • International Flights
  • Travel Insurance
  • Extra Meals
  • Drinks
  • Tips

Dates and Prices

Arrival date

Important notes

When traveling to Patagonia, we recommend you bring:

  • a warm and waterproof jacket (Gore-Tex)
  • a pair of gloves
  • a wool hat, a scarf
  • quality sunglasses
  • sunblock
  • a daily backpack
  • hiking/walking waterproof shoes
  • binoculars
  • a medical kit
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