Coyhaique Carretera Austral Lake General carrera Tortel Patagonia Park

The essence of true Patagonia as you weave through mountains, river valleys, fjords and steppe; a magnificent road trip into Chile’s wildest corners well away from the tourist crowds. From Coihaique, you collect a 4×4 pick-up truck or SUV and head south along the famous Carretera Austral, spending each night in rustic mountain cabins or family-run guesthouses. Highlights include the “marble caves” of Lake General Carrera, the picture post-card village of Tortel and the rugged expanse of Patagonia Park.

Itinerary Highlights

  • Stunning landscapes along the Carretera Austral
  • The Marble Caves of Lake General Carrera
  • Tortel & the surrounding Chilean fjords
  • A boat trip out to the “Island of the dead”
  • The wonderful wildlife of Patagonia National Park

What’s included

  • Private tours for most included activities
  • Meet & greet airport service
  • Luxury or boutique accommodation at your chosen level
  • Expert guides in each destination


This is an example itinerary. It is fully flexible; you can add or detract days and include hotels at your chosen budget. It departs daily.



Price Guide

from $2050 per person (excluding arrival Day 1)

Our quotes are bespoke for your customised trip. The prices displayed are indicative only, read more

Day 1

Fly to Chile

plan line
Day 2-4

Lake General Carrera

Fly to Coihaique, collect a hire car and set off along the famous Carretera Austral, Chile’s remote highway that snakes south through breathtaking, ever-changing landscapes to reach Chile’s great southern icefield. The wonderful drive takes you through the majestic peaks of the Cerro Castillo Mountains and into rugged Patagonian steppe to reach Lake General Carrera. Stay at a lake-side lodge and spend your days touring the area. There is wonderful walking, riding and snowshoeing as well as thrilling boat-trips out to distant glaciers. You can drive up the scenic “Exploradores Valley” or take a boat or kayak through the region’s iconic marble caves.

Day 5-6

Tortel & Chilean Fjords

Back into the car your adventure continues as you drive further south along the Carretera Austral. Past Cochrane, the road deteriorates yet the scenery becomes ever more spectacular. Towering, rugged mountains are soon replaced by lush vertical fjords as you follow the turquoise Baker River as it winds its way to the ocean through forests and picture postcard landscapes. Your destination is Tortel, a tiny fishing village clinging to the foot of glacier-topped fjord at the estuary of the Baker River. Here, you spend 2 days exploring the 10km of wooden “pasarela” walkways that circumnavigate the steep fjord perhaps with a boat-trip into the fjords to visit the eerie “Island of the Dead’.

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Day 7-8

Patagonia park

Today, you begin the drive back north towards Coihaique breaking up your journey close to the Chacabuco Valley and Patagonia Park, 200,000 acres of rugged mountainous steppe and one of the last havens for the native Huemul deer. This park is nestled between the Jeinimeni and Tamango National Reserves and is a vital piece of Chile’s conservation puzzle protecting a number of the region’s eye-catching species such as guanacos, puma and condors.

Day 9

Regional Capital Coyhaique

Returning to the Carretera Austral, you will retrace your steps north to Coihaique, the regional capital, for a final overnight. If you have time and energy to spare, you may like to head out along the Lake General Carrera to Chile Chico on the border with Argentina. Here, you can take a scenic ferry crossing across to Puerto Ibañez to rejoin the paved highway north to Coihaique. The following morning, drive to the airport, hand back the car and take a flight to Santiago for onward connections.

Day 10

Depart Coyhaique

A note on price

The prices outlined above are a rough guide to give you an idea of costs and enable you to budget for your trip.

Guide prices are generally for private arrangements based on twin share, in well located, good quality accommodation (excluding international flights).

Please note costs are indicative and may vary due to a number of factors such as; travel date, hotel choice, room category, number of people travelling and prevailing exchange rates.

Price Guide from $2050 (excluding Day 1) per person

When to travel

jan feb mar apr may jun jul aug sep oct nov dec

For Patagonia and the south, it is best to travel between October and April, January and February if you are keen trekkers. That said, the climate is highly unpredictable at the best of times and you should come prepared for all weather conditions “all 4 seasons in one day is the local adage”. Northern Chile is a year-round destination although you may see rain and flooding in ther highlands between January and March which can disrupt border crossings into Bolivia and Argentina.

Add on’s

f you have another 2-3 days to spare why not extend your driving trip and head up the Exploradores Valley. Here you can enjoy wonderful walks and boat trips as well as visit the breathtaking Laguna San Rafael, one of Chile’s iconic glaciers. Or continuing south, you can even drive to Villa O’Higgins itself, the end of the Carretera Austral and the launching point for visiting the wonderful Lake – and Glacier O’Higgins.

This driving trip is just a small element of the ultimate Patagonian road trip – a 3 week self-drive journey that takes in the breathtaking landscapes on both sides of the border and which combines Chile’s Carretera Austral with Argentina’s iconic Route 40.

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