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Carretera Austral Self-Drive Adventure

Drive the famous and wild Carretera Austral, one of the world's most beautiful roads, through the true heart of Patagonia and discover the vast variety this region has to offer. See condors up close in the Queulat National Park, mingle with friendly locals, trek to hanging glaciers and take a boat to stunning marble caves. This little-known corner of Chile is a travellers' gem.

Are you hoping to travel before March 2023?

Patagonia's a big trip and we know how crucial it is to get it right. As you’re considering travelling in the next couple of months, we want to be upfront with you…

Finding available accommodation is proving almost impossible in Torres del Paine and Los Glaciares National Parks. While not uncommon, the pandemic has exacerbated the situation this year.

Alongside this, Swoop are also currently focused on ensuring that all of the logistics are in place for our booked travellers who are due to head south shortly.

Swoop has therefore decided to no longer accept any new bookings departing before the beginning of March 2023.

As alternative options, here’s what we suggest:

Option A:

Push your trip back and choose to travel instead in early 2023. April onwards has more accommodation options still available. The Patagonian autumnal colours are stunning and trails less crowded.

Option B:

Defer your Patagonia adventure by 12 months, benefitting by getting exactly the trip you want without compromise, and lock in plans now while there’s still good availability.

If you are able to be flexible on your travel dates, the next step would then be for us to arrange a time to talk through the options.

  • I want to travel before March 2023

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  • I’m flexible and could travel later

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Trip type


Trip length

8 Days





Carretera Austral Self-Drive Adventure - 8 - $4,092

Trip Summary and Itinerary Map

Day 1: Drive from Balmaceda Airport to Coyhaique; Estancia Punta del Monte

Day 2: Drive to Queulat National Park; Queulat Lodge

Day 3: Trek to the hanging glacier; Drive to Coyhaique; Hotel

Day 4: Drive to Mallín Colorado; Mallín Colorado Ecolodge

Day 5: Drive to the Baker River; Horseback ride; Mallín Colorado Ecolodge

Day 6: Explore Mallín Colorado area; Mallín Colorado Ecolodge

Day 7: Drive to Glacier San Rafael; Mallín Colorado Ecolodge

Day 8: Drive to Balmaceda Airport

Start from Balmaceda Airport and end at Balmaceda Airport

Landmarks visited on Carretera Austral Self-Drive Adventure

Operator's Itinerary

Day 1:  Drive from Balmaceda Airport to Coyhaique; Estancia Punta del Monte

Arrive at Balmaceda Airport and and drive to the main town of the region, Coyhaique. Here you'll have some free time to explore the town and have lunch. In the afternoon, drive to Estancia Punta del Monte, in Coyhaique Alto, where you'll have dinner and stay the night.

Journey: 1hr, 60km

Meals: Dinner

Accommodation: Estancia Punta del Monte

Day 2: Drive to Queulat National Park; Queulat Lodge

Today is a chance to visit a condor roost in the peaks of the nearby mountains; an opportunity to watch them from the summit and get up very close to these magnificent birds.

After a good breakfast at the estancia, you will drive north to Queulat Lodge. This is true Patagonia and you will pass several typical small towns along the road, with exceptional views of mountains, cattle and sheep farms. Arriving at Queulat National Park, you enter a humid native forest, impressive for its steep slopes and roads lined with nalca, also known as Chilean rhubarb, with enormous leaves. 

Journey: 3.5hrs, 210km

Meals: Breakfast, dinner

Accommodation: Queulat Lodge

Day 3: Trek to the hanging glacier; Drive to Coyhaique; Hotel

After breakfast, you'll drive the short distance to the entrance of Queulat National Park. From here you'll trek along a wonderful trail, climbing a steep bluff to the north to reach a lookout over the hanging glacier and Tempanos Lagoon. While you soak up the views, you're likely to hear a deep thundering noise as the glacier calves off huge chunks of ice in front of you.

After this magical experience, you will return to Coyhaique where you'll stay the night. 

Journey: 3.5hrs, 210km

Meals: Breakfast, dinner

Accommodation: Hotel in Coyhaique

Day 4:  Drive to Mallin Colorado; Mallín Colorado Ecolodge

This morning, you'll start driving along the extremely scenic Carretera Austral, to the south of the region. Crossing the Ibañez Valley, passing Cerro Castillo's peaks and through humid forests, you will drive through some of the most remote areas of the Aysén region.

Stopping off along the way in Puerto Tranquilo, you can enjoy an excursion by boat to the mysterious and stunning marble caves. Then it is on to Mallín Colorado and your lodging for the night at Mallín Colorado Ecolodge, with time to settle into your cabin before dinner is served. 

Journey: 4.5hrs, 265km

Meals: Breakfast, dinner

Accommodation: Mallín Colorado Ecolodge

Day 5: Drive to the Baker River; Horseback ride; Mallín Colorado Ecolodge

After breakfast, you'll take a short drive south to visit the Baker River and its confluence with the Nef River. Here, the Baker River meets the sediment-coloured glacial waters of the Nef River, and the water changes colour as it flows on to the Pacific at Caleta Tortel.

After your visit here, head back to Mallín Colorado Ecolodge, for horseback riding or hiking in the afternoon. There are 15km of trails on the property with beautiful native trees, amazing views of Lake General Carrera and the Cordón Contreras mountain chain.

Journey: 30mins, 30km

Meals: Breakfast, dinner

Accommodation: Mallín Colorado Ecolodge

Day 6: Explore Mallín Colorado area; Mallín Colorado Ecolodge

Today is a free day to explore the area around Mallín Colorado and Lake General Carrera. A visit to the nearby town of Puerto Guadal with its many artisan shops is highly recommended and gives a real flavour of life in Patagonia. You can also explore the stunning Cascada Los Maquis nearbyvisit an abandoned mine inside the mountains, or visit the beautiful cemetery of Puerto Guadal which is full of flowers and amazing views.

Alternatively, you may decide to simply rest in your cabin at Mallín Colorado Ecolodge and take in the beautiful views. 

Meals: Breakfast, dinner

Accommodation: Mallín Colorado Ecolodge

Day 7: Drive to Glacier San Rafael; Mallín Colorado Ecolodge

Depart early from the lodge for the drive to Puerto Tranquilo and then on to Bahía Exploradores to take a cruise to Glacier San Rafael. You will spend a full day onboard with breakfast, lunch and coffee all included.

Navigating through the fjords, you should arrive at San Rafael Lagoon by noon where there will be time to get close to the icebergs. The boat returns to Bahía Exploradores around 5pm and you'll return to Mallín Colorado Ecolodge.

Journey: 2.5hrs, 100km to Bahía Exploradores

Meals: Breakfast, picnic lunch, dinner

Accommodation: Mallín Colorado Ecolodge

Day 8: Drive to Balmaceda Airport

Today you'll drive to Balmaceda Airport to take your onward flight. 

Journey: 5hrs, 240km

Meals: Breakfast 

Prices, Departures and Inclusions

Independent tours are USD $4,092 per person based on two people sharing a room and a rented 4x4 car.


A departure can be set up on a date of your choice. Please get in touch for more details.

Additional Notes

Optional excursions – There are optional extra activities available. Please get in touch for more details and pricing on the following:

  • Jet boat trip to Glacier Leones from Mallín Colorado
  • Helicopter flight over the Northern Icefields
  • Half-day hike to Puerto Guadal fossil site


  • Meals: 7 breakfasts, 1 picnic lunch, 7 dinners
  • Accommodation: 2 nights in Coyhaique, 1 night in Queulat Lodge, 4 nights at Mallín Colorado Ecolodge
  • 8 days rental of 4x4 vehicle for self-drive, from and to Balmaceda Airport
  • 24/7 support from our local partner
  • Visit to the marble caves
  • Visit to the Baker River confluence
  • Condor visit at dawn from Estancia Punta del Monte
  • Hanging glacier hike in Queulat National Park
  • Mallín Colorado trails: hiking or horseback riding
  • Boat excursion to Glacier San Rafael


  • Meals not indicated in itinerary
  • Drinks at lunch or dinner
  • Any extra/optional excursions
  • Personal equipment (see our recommended kit list)
  • Personal travel insurance
  • Gratuities/tips
  • International and domestic/in-country flights
  • Any visa, passport and vaccination expenses

Questions about this Trip?