Carretera Austral Self-Drive Adventure

This isn't just a drive along one of the world's most beautiful roads; you'll hike on the steppe, ride with gauchos in the mountains, snorkel in pristine river waters, hear the wind whoosh through condors' wings and zoom through the temperate rainforest on a speedboat to one of the most dynamic glaciers in Patagonia.

9 Days


Carretera Austral Self-Drive Adventure - 9 - $3,410

Trip Summary and Itinerary Map

  • Drive the Southern Carretera Austral
  • Boat trip to Laguna San Rafael from Exploradores Valley
  • Boat Trip or Kayaking at Marble Caves
  • Day Hike in the Chacabuco valley
  • Snorkelling in pristine river waters in Cochrane
  • Horse-packing near Cerro Castillo
  • Spot condors at dawn and stay in a homestay

Start from Santiago and end at Balmaceda Airport

Landmarks visited on Carretera Austral Self-Drive Adventure

Operator's Itinerary

Day 1: Arrive in Santiago before flying to Balmaceda

Collect your car from Balmaceda airport and drive 50 minutes to Coyhaique. Rest for the evening in Pampa Corral and grab a bite to eat at Ruibarbo.

Accommodation: Pampa Corral, Coyhaique

Day 2: Drive from Coyhaique to Puerto Rio Tranquilo

Duration of drive: 4-4.5hrs/220km

The road is being paved south of Cerro Castillo and you may have to stop for work to be done. Check with Pampa Corral if there are any road closures.

Accommodation: El Puesto, Puerto Rio Tranquillo

Meals: Breakfast, Dinner

Day 3: Laguna San Rafael from Exploradores Valley

Duration of drive: 3hrs/150km driving + full day excursion

Drive for 1.5 hours until Bahia Exploradores where you will meet the your guides for the day.Board your boat to Laguna San Rafael for the rest of the day.

Return to Bahia Exploradores late at night. Dinner will be home cooked food at Darka Hospedaje.

Accommodation: El Puesto, Puerto Rio Tranquillo

Meals: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

Day 4: Drive from Puerto Tranquilo to Chacabuco Valley

Duration of drive: 2hr/120km

Follow the Carretera Austral south past Puerto Bertrand, stop to gaze at the Baker River where it meets the Chacabuco River. After crossing the Chacabuco river, turn off to Patagonia Park. Stop to admire the copious guanacos as you drive through the park.

Choose to either do the Lagunas Altas hike (self guided, 6-7hrs) OR drive up to the Argentinean border and admire the park from your car. Supper will be provided in the restaurant.

Accommodation: Chacabuco Lodge

Meals: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

Day 5: Drive from Chacabuco Valley to Cochrane

Duration of drive: 1hr/27km

Once at Cochrane, your guide will meet you for snorkelling in the pristine river waters.   

Accommodation: Hotel Ultimo Paraiso

Meals: Breakfast

Day 6: Drive from Cochrane to Cerro Castillo

Duration of drive: 5hr/238km

Drive back north along the Carretera Austral to Cerro Castillo. We recommend you have lunch at Sole's bus in Cerro Castillo.

Pack up the horses and depart for (approx.) 2.5 hours of riding before arriving at camp.

Accommodation: Camping near Cerro Castillo

Meals: Breakfast, Dinner

Day 7: Horse-packing trip near Cerro Castillo

Explore the estancia, guanacos, views of Lake General Carrera, and geological rock formations on horseback.

Accommodation: Camping near Cerro Castillo

Meals: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

Day 8: Horse-packing trip near Cerro Castillo

Duration of drive: 3hr/150km

Return to Cerro Castillo village and either horse ride or walk to Laguna Cerro Castillo. Watch the natural horsemanship demo before driving to Estancia Punta del Monte. Follow the Carretera Austral back to Coyhaique. When you arrive in Coyhaique, you will be greeted at your estancia.

Accommodation: Estancia Punta del Monte Homestay

Meals: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

Day 9: Observe condors at dawn

After breakfast take a 4x4 ride up into the hills, climbing through Lenga forest, admiring the great panoramic views. There is a short walk to the condor nursery. Drive 1.5 hours to Balmaceda airport.

Fly from Balmaceda back to Santiago.

Meals: Breakfast

Prices, Departures and Inclusions


  • Day trip to Laguna San Rafael
  • Half day excursion snorkelling in the Cochrane River
  • 3 day horse-packing trip
  • Half day condor watching excursion
  • 10 day 4x4 car hire 


  • Meals and excursions, unless indicated 
  • Park entrances fees and guides
  • Personal expenses and equipment
  • Travel insurance
  • Gratuities
  • Any visa, passport and vaccination expenses

Questions about this Trip?