Road Trip Carretera Austral: End of the Road

18 days of self-guided road tripping on the magical Carretera Austral full of adventure. Hike around Laguna Castillo and the Lagunas Altas Trail, and take to the ice on the Callequeo Glacier, spend an afternoon getting up close to the Marble Caves by kayak, and see the San Rafael Glacier by boat. 18 days of self-guided road tripping on the magical Carretera Austral full of adventure. Hike around Laguna Castillo and the Lagunas Altas Trail, and take to the ice on the Callequeo Glacier, spend an afternoon getting up close to the Marble Caves by kayak, and see the San Rafael Glacier by boat.

18 Days

Road Trip Carretera Austral: End of the Road - 18

Trip Summary and Itinerary Map

  • Begin the adventure crossing the Castillo mountain range and following the Rio Ibanez into the Andes
  • Sail through the Exploradores Valley to the San Rafael Glacier (day 5), cruise to the Isla de los Muertos (day 9) and take a ferry crossing from Lago General Carrera to Puerto Ibanez (day 17)
  • Tailor the activities to suit you; with different hike options and opportunities for snorkelling in the Cochrane River and rafting in the Baker River
  • Visit the mysterious Tortel, a small village built on stilts, explore Patagonia Park with half-day hikes, and enjoy a picnic lunch at the top of the Lagunas Altas Trail
  • All 17 nights of accommodation organised for you, across comfortable local lodges and hotels

Start from Coyhaique and end at Balmaceda Airport

Landmarks visited on Road Trip Carretera Austral: End of the Road

Operator's Itinerary

Day 1: Drive Balmaceda Airport to Cerro Castillo

You will pick up your hire car on arrival into Balmaceda airport - there are daily flights to Balmaceda from Santiago.

Begin the 1 hour drive south towards the Ibanez Valley, to the small village of Cerro Castillo. See the Castillo Mountain Range and travel the road deep into the Andes, crossing beautiful passes.

Journey: 1 hour / 70 kms

Meals: Breakfast

Accommodation: La Casona de Mary Sandoval, Cerro Castillo


Day 2: Hike to Laguna Castillo

Admire a host of the region's natural features – forests, towering peaks, valleys and hanging glaciers – while hiking one of the off-the-beaten-track routes within Cerro Castillo. You're likely to hear little other than the birds around you and the occasional stream of a waterfall in the distance. You'll come across Laguna Castillo set in front of a huge glacier, in a startling display.

Meals: Breakfast, Picnic Lunch

Accommodation: La Casona de Mary Sandoval, Cerro Castillo


Day 3: Optional excursions from Cerro Castillo

Today you have the option to head off on horse back to explore more of the Cerro Castillo National Park or explore more off-the-beaten-track trails on mountain bike. These excursions aren't included in the trip cost but can be booked in advance.

Meals: Breakfast

Accommodation: La Casona de Mary Sandoval, Cerro Castillo


Day 4: Drive Cerro Castillo to Puerto Rio Tranquilo

Head off after breakfast to drive south to Puerto Rio Tranquilo.

After checking in and grabbing some lunch, you’ll head off on your afternoon kayaking excursion to the Marble Caves. Please note that the kayaking excursion can be changed for a boat trip at the time of booking.

See different rock formations and caverns and encounter marine life through turquoise clear waters.


Journey: 3 hours / 120 km

Meals: Breakfast

Accommodation: Hostal El Puesto, Puerto Rio Tranquilo


Day 5: Exploradores Valley and the San Rafael Glacier

A whole day venturing deep into the Exploradores Valley, with a boat trip through the pro glacial Laguna San Rafael (included excursion). You'll reach the closest glacier to the equator in the world, the San Rafael Glacier, which is also famed as one of the main glaciers that descends from the Northern Ice Field and the most actively calving one in the area.

Amidst a contrasting backdrop of the rainforest, watch the icebergs fall from the front face and float away into the surrounding waters. Your expert guide will help you appreciate the importance of the glacier as a focus for scientific investigation and share the fascination surrounding the environment and its history. They will also share about the local flora and fauna – the area is indeed known as a privileged spot for bird watching and frequently visited by pudu deer, sea lions, dolphins and elephant seals.

Meals: Breakfast

Accommodation: Hostal El Puesto, Puerto Rio Tranquilo


Day 6: Drive Puerto Rio Tranquilo to Cochrane

Drive south from Puerto Rio Tranquilo to Cochrane stopping off on route for short hikes to see the confluence of the Neff and Baker River and the Chacabuco and Baker River.

You’ll follow the course of the Baker River with plenty of opportunities for photo stops.

Once you've checked in, you can spend the afternoon exploring the Lago Cochrane and Tamango Reserve (self-guided).


Journey: 2.5 hours / 120 kms

Meals: Breakfast

Accommodation: Hotel Ultimo Paraiso, Cochrane


Day 7: Optional excursions from Cochrane

Today you can explore the area under your own steam or take a guided excursion.

A full day excursion takes you ice hiking on the Callequeo Glacier, a trip which also gives you stunning views of the San Lorenzo Mountain standing at over 3,000 metres.

There are also shorter half day excursions for example snorkeling in the Cochrane River famed for its clarity or mountain biking in the Tamango Reserve.

These excursions aren't included in the trip cost but will be booked in advance.

Meals: Breakfast

Accommodation: Hotel Ultimo Paraiso, Cochrane


Day 8: Drive Cochrane to Caleta Tortel

Drive south from Cochrane to Caleta Tortel following the mighty Baker River which has its delta at Caleta Tortel.

On arrival at Caleta Tortel you will park your vehicle at the entrance of the town car parks which is the end of the road. Caleta Tortel is then only accessible by wooden walkways (consider just taking an overnight bag as the wooden walkways and steps are not wheely suitcase friendly).

Once you have checked in, head out to explore this extraordinary village built entirely on stilts.

Journey: 3 hours / 125 kms

Meals: Breakfast

Accommodation: Entre Hielos Lodge, Caleta Tortel


Day 9: Optional excursions from Caleta Tortel

There are a number of options of guided or self-guided excursions to choose from today.

A self-guided 10 km hike takes you to the Mirador del Cerro - a circular walk taking you to the furthest walkways and up through thick rain forests to a viewpoint giving you spectacular views of the Baker River delta and Caleta Tortel.

A 1/2 day boat trip will take you up through the Baker River delta to the Isla de los Muertos - a tiny, beautiful island with a dark history. Among the ferns and dense trees are 59 wooden crosses, commemorating loggers who were working here in 1905. Their company promised them a boat ride home for the winter, when temperatures plummet. Winter arrived, but no boat came, stranding 200 workers here with little food, shelter, and battling a hostile climate. A quarter of the men died, some as young as 15. The island is now a national monument.

Alternatively, you can take a full day boat trip to see either the Glacier Steffen (the southernmost glacier of the Northern Ice Field) or the Glacier Montt (the northernmost glacier of the Southern Ice Field).

These excursions aren't included in the trip cost but will be booked in advance.

Meals: Breakfast

Accommodation: Entre Hielos Lodge, Caleta Tortel


Day 10: Drive Caleta Tortel to Villa O'Higgins

Drive south to Villa O'Higgins - this is a 6 hour journey down to the southern tip of the road including a 30 minute car ferry ride across the “New Year” fjord.

On arrival into Villa O’Higgins, take some time to explore the little village or have a soak in the hotel's wood burning hot tub surrounded by stunning snow capped mountains.

Journey: 6.25 hours / 150 kms  including car ferry.

Meals: Breakfast

Accommodation: Robinson Crusoe Lodge, Villa O’Higgins


Day 11: Optional excursions from Villa O'Higgins

Weather depending, your lodge can organise a boat excursion on the Lago Villa O’Higgins to see the O’Higgins Glacier. If the weather is too rough for the boat to depart, there are plenty of self-guided hiking options on offer.

These excursions aren't included in the trip cost but will be booked in advance.


Meals: Breakfast

Accommodation: Robinson Crusoe Lodge, Villa O’Higgins


Day 12: Self-Guided hiking in Villa O’Higgins

Spend the day hiking in the Glacier Mosco Park and on the viewpoint trails around Villa O’Higgins.

Leaving from the village centre of Villa O’Higgins there is a well marked path that takes you to a series of 3 viewpoints that give you lovely views out over Villa O’higgins, Lago O’Higgins and Lago Ciervo. This trail takes about 1 hour in total.

For a slightly longer hike, you can take the 1.8 kilometre trail to the ‘Mirador del Valle’ set up on Cerro Submarino over looking Villa O;Higgins.

For those looking for a full day hike, then there are trails in the Glacier Mosco Park which is just south of Villa O’Higgins.

The Padre Hurtado museum in the main square is also well worth a visit.

Meals: Breakfast

Accommodation: Robinson Crusoe Lodge, Villa O’Higgins


Day 13: Drive Villa O’Higgins to Patagonia Park

Drive north to the Patagonia Park, stopping off on route for photos and refreshments. This is a long day of driving and can be shortened by having a night in Cochrane on route. (Please ask if you would prefer a shorter journey).

On arrival at the Patagonia Park, settle in then head out on a half-day hike.

Journey: 8 hours / 260 km

Meals: Breakfast

Accommodation: Chacabuco Lodge, Patagonia Park


Day 14: Self-Guided Hiking Patagonia Park

Today we suggest that you hike the Laguna Altas Trail. Starting at the West Winds Campground, just a short walk from the Lodge, you'll ascend the hill, close to Tamanguito Peak, before winding around numerous alpine lakes and returning to the park headquarters.

The trail is marked with rebar poles and trail maps are available at the reception. Allow at least six to eight hours to complete the route and bring a picnic, water, warm layers and sun protection.

Hike: 23 km / 14 miles / 1268 meter (4160 feet) ascent

Meals: Breakfast

Accommodation: Chacabuco Lodge, Patagonia Park


Day 15: Self-Guided Hiking Patagonia Park

Another half-day of hiking in the stunning surroundings. In the eastern sector of the Chacabuco Valley, the Lago Chico areas has spectacular views of Lago Cochrane and Mount San Lorenzo. Drive up the valley approximately 45 km (28 miles) until you reach the second road on the right. Follow this road up the hill to a parking area, approximately 7 km. From there, you'll be able to head out on the loop trail around Lago Chico. Alternatively, you can enjoy a shorter stroll to a scenic overlook.

Hike: 12 km / 7.5 miles / 180 meter (590 feet) ascent

Meals: Breakfast

Accommodation: Chacabuco Lodge, Patagonia Park


Day 16: Drive Patagonia Park to Chile Chico

Explore the park in the morning with a self-guided hike, before driving to Chile Chico in the afternoon along the shores of the Lago General Carrera.

Journey: 4 hours / 173 km Meals: Breakfast Accommodation: Hosteria de la Patagonia, Chile Chico 


Day 17: Ferry Crossing and final night in Coyhaique

Take a ferry across the Lago General Carrera to Puerto Ibanez, a 2 hour 15 minute journey.

Afterwards, drive north and spend your final night in either Cerro Castillo or in a comfortable hotel in the bustling town of Coyhaique.

Journey: 2 hours / 115 km

Meals: Breakfast

Accommodation: Patagonia House, Coyhaique.


Day 18: Departure

Drive back to Balmaceda Airport and return your hire car, before your flight home or onward.

Journey: 50 minutes / 55 km

Meals: Breakfast

Prices, Departures and Inclusions

A departure can be set up on a date of your choice with a minimum of 2 people (subject to availability).

Please get in touch for more details.

Prices are per person based on a group of two people.

Includes

  • Car Hire: 18 days
  • Accommodation: 17 nights (3 nights simple B&B, 8 nights guest house, 6 nights lodge)
  • Meals: Breakfast (daily); Picnic lunch Day 2
  • Cerro Castillo Day Hike (Day 2)
  • Marble Caves Kayak (Day 4)
  • San Rafael Glacier Excursion (Day 5)
  • Ferry Chile Chico - Puerto Ibañez

Excludes

  • Optional excursions from Cerro Castillo (Day 3)
  • Optional excursions from Cochrane (Day 7)
  • Optional excursions from Caleta Tortel (Day 9)
  • Optional excursions from Villa O’higgins (Days 11 & 12)
  • Self-guided hiking in Patagonia Park (Days 14 & 15)
  • Flights
  • Meals not indicated in itinerary
  • Personal expenses and equipment
  • Travel insurance
  • Gratuities
  • Any visa, passport and vaccination expenses

Questions about this Trip?