Ruta 40 & Carretera Austral Guided Drive

Drive Patagonia's wildest and remotest roads with a local expert to guide you. You'll stay in isolated estancias, visit ancient cave art paintings, discover the new Patagonia Park and see the marble caves.

15 Days

$2,650

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Ruta 40 & Carretera Austral Guided Drive - 15 - $2,650

Trip Summary and Itinerary Map

  • From Bariloche taking the Route 40 direction south to get to the north gate of Los Alerces National Park
  • Visit the town of Puyuhuapi by the Queulat National Park
  • Boat excursion to the stunning Marble Chapels
  • Caleta Tortel
  • Experience the beautiful Valle Chacabuco, enjoying the wildlife and hiking in the afternoon
  • Lago Posadas, a small village nearby the amazing Posadas and Pueyrredon lakes
  • 1 hour trek down the Pinturas River Canyon to visit the Cueva de las Manos (Cave of Hands) 
  • A day in one of the most beautiful places in the world to trek, El Chalten
  • Mini trekking over the Perito Moreno Glacier 

Start from Bariloche and end at El Calafate

Landmarks visited on Ruta 40 & Carretera Austral Guided Drive

Operator's Itinerary

Day 1:  Bariloche to Los Alerces National Park 

Distance of drive: 315 km

From Bariloche we take Route 40 direction south, passing by lakes Gutierrez and Mascardi to reach El Bolson, a small and relaxed town at the foot of Piltriquitron Peak. If it is open we will walk by its colourful handcrafts market, the best in Patagonia.

After El Bolson we will take the detour to Cholila, a rural village in a beautiful green valley to get to the north gate of Los Alerces National Park. We will do several stops as we cross the park north to south by Rivadavia, Menendez and Futalaufquen lakes. By lakes Menendez and Verde we can do a 2-hour hike to admire the magnificent flora and the amazing blue and green colours of the lakes and rivers.

In the evening we will arrive to Villa Futalaufquen, a small and green village inside the park. Night in Villa Futalaufquen, Hosteria Futalaufquen, a splendid historical building by the most famous Patagonian architect, Alejandro Bustillo. 

Meals: Breakfast 

Transport: 4WD Vehicle

Accommodation: Villa Futalaufquen, Hosteria Futaluafquen


Day 2: Drive to Puyuhuapi

Distance of drive: 250 km

We leave Los Alerces early in the morning, passing by Trevelin, a town founded by Welsh settlers, before entering Chile by the Futaleufu pass. Bordering the amazing Futaleufu River we will arrive to Puerto Ramirez and then pass by the Yelcho Lake and Villa Santa Lucia.

There we will take Carretera Austral direction south to the towns of La Junta and Puyuhuapi. In Puyuhapi, by the Queulat National Park we will walk to a viewpoint to admire the Ventisquero Colgante, an amazing hanging glacier with waterfalls. 

Meals: Breakfast 

Transport: 4WD Vehicle

Accommodation: Puyuhuapi, Hosteria Alemana


Day 3: Drive to Coyhaique

Distance of drive: 240 km

Continuing our way down Carretera Austral we cross the entire Queulat National Park. Then we pass by Lago Las Torres and Manihuales National Reserves. Before arriving to Coyhaique we can take a detour to Puerto Aysen and Puerto Chacabuco. Night in Coyhaique, the main urban center of the Aysen Region. Raices B&B.

Meals: Breakfast 

Transport: 4WD Vehicle

Accommodation: Coyhaique, Raices B&B


Day 4: Drive to the Marble Chapels

Distance of drive: 215 km

From Coyhaique we continue by Carretera Austral, first passing by the Simpson valley and then entering the Cerro Castillo National Reserve. After a dramatic descent into the Ibanez River the pavement ends and the road turns to the west to reach the General Carrera Lake.

Getting to Puerto Tranquilo we will take a boat excursion to the stunning "Marble Chapels", rocky formations of amazing shapes resulting from the wind and water erosion. The contrast of the rock shapes with the green and blue colour of the lake water is just unbelievable.

Meals: Breakfast 

Transport: 4WD Vehicle

Accommodation: Puerto Tranquilo, Cabanas Valle Exploradores 


Day 5: Drive to Cochrane 

Distance of drive: 220 km

In the morning we will take the route towards the Exploradores Glacier viewpoint. On our way we will pass by lakes Tranquilo and Bayo and the spectacular Nutria waterfall. After 52 Km we will leave the car and take a 30 minute walk by the dense Valdivian Forest to climb to the viewpoint where we will have a great view of the glacier, part of the Northern Ice Field.

After this we will go back to Puerto Tranquilo to go back to take Carretera Austral direction south. After passing by the channel where the General Carrera Lake drains into the Bertrand Lake we will reach Puerto Bertrand, where the amazing Baker River starts. Following the river course we will get to a spectacular spot, the confluence or rivers Baker and Neff.

Finally we will reach Cochrane, a small town by the Tamango National Reserve where we will spend the night. 

Meals: Breakfast 

Transport: 4WD Vehicle

Accommodation: Cochrane, Hotel Ultimo Paraiso 


Day 6: Drive to Caleta Tortel

Distance of drive: 130 km

From Cochrane we will cover 130 Km of dirt road to Caleta Tortel. The road leads between waterfalls and forests of cypress trees to the Esmeralda, Brown, Chacabuco and Vargas lakes. Following the course of the Baker River to its estuary we will reach the highest sector of Caleta Tortel, where all vehicles have to be parked, as the town can only be access by walking footbridges built on Guaitecas cypress wood, making the place something really unique.

From the piers in Caleta Tortel we can take a small boat to go up river to Isla de los Muertos (Dead Island), where about 120 workers from the Baker Exploitation Company died for reasons still unknown. The crosses made of cypress wood mixed with the dense vegetation of ferns make the scene quite intriguing. Another option is to climb the hill over the town to get a great view of the Baker River statuary and the surrounding fjords.

Meals: Breakfast 

Transport: 4WD Vehicle

Accommodation: Caleta Tortel, Entre Hielos Lodge


Day 7: Drive to Chacabuco Valley

Distance of drive: 165 km

From Caleta Tortel we go back to Cochrane and from there take the road that leads to the beautiful Chacabuco Valley. In 2004 the entity Conservacion Patagonica, part of Tompkins Conservation purchased the 175,000-acre Estancia Valle Chacabuco and have been working since then to create the future Patagonia National Park in Chile, by restoring the grasslands as well as the local wildlife, removing livestock and fences and developing species-specific restoration programs. Protected species include Guanaco, Fox, Armadillo, Wild Cat and plenty of birds such as Lesser Rhea, Andean Condor, Chilean Flamingo, Magellanic Woodpecker, Pygmy Owl and Black-Necked Swan, among many others.

We will stay at the cozy Valle Chacabuco Lodge, so we can enjoy the wildlife by hiking in the park in the afternoon, enjoying a good dinner and a lounge by the fire in the evening.

Meals: Breakfast 

Transport: 4WD Vehicle

Accommodation: Valle Chacabuco Lodge


Day 8: Drive to Lago Posadas

Distance of drive: 200 km

Leaving the lodge after a good breakfast, we will take the scenic drive that crosses the entire park all the way to Paso Roballos, on the Argentinian border. Stops along the way provide wildlife viewings of Laguna de los Flamencos (Flamenco lagoon), Casa de Piedra and views of the confluence of Baker and Chacabuco Rivers.

Once in the border we will pass the customs proceedings to enter Argentina again, experiencing the dramatic transition into the arid steppe of Argentine Patagonia.

Once in Argentinian territory we will head to Lago Posadas, a small village nearby the amazing Posadas and Pueyrredon Lakes, which we will explore in the afternoon. 

Meals: Breakfast 

Transport: 4WD Vehicle

Accommodation: Lago Posadas, La Posada del Posadas


Day 9: Drive to Cueva de las Manos

Distance of drive: 175 km

From Lago Posadas we will cover 75 km of dirt road to go back to Route 40, and 60 km more (paved road) to Estancia Cueva de las Manos. From the estancia we can reach the formidable Pinturas River Canyon. Doing a 1-hour trekking (each way) we can go down the canyon, cross the river and climb to the other side of the canyon to visit Cueva de las Manos ("Cave of the Hands").

The canyon walls feature cave paintings of four different periods from 9,300 to 1,300 years ago, being one of the most ancient artistic expressions of the South American natives. It was declared World Heritage Site by the UNESCO in 1999. If you prefer not to hike the cave can be reached by vehicle too (1 hour by unpaved road from Route 40). 

Meals: Breakfast 

Transport: 4WD Vehicle

Accommodation: Hosteria Cueva de las Manos


Day 10: Drive to Perito Moreno National Park

Distance of drive: 250 km

Back on Route 40 again we continue direction south for 160 km to the exit of route 37, a 90 km dirt road that leads to the Perito Moreno National Park (do not confuse with the Perito Moreno Glacier, which is in Los Glaciares National Park). This is one of the most splendid locations in the Southern Andes and one with the fewer visitors, due to its isolation and harsh weather. Being far distant from any main roads and urban centers makes this place a truly untouched area, where we can experience the same feelings as the Patagonian pioneers did.

We will stay at Estancia La Oriental, an old-style Patagonian ranch from where we can enjoy the amazing landscapes and wildlife of the Park.

Meals: Breakfast 

Transport: 4WD Vehicle

Accommodation: Estancia La Oriental 


Day 11: Hiking in Perito Moreno National Park

Distance of drive: 315 km

We spend an entire day in the National Park so we can go in a safari deep into its wilderness and take a closer look to its exceptional flora, with beautiful forests of Lenga (Roble Beech) and Nire (Antarctic Beech) and fauna, which includes big herds of Guanacos, Condors, Eagles, Owls, red and grey Foxes, Huemules (South Andean Deer) and even Pumas (Mountain Lions) although the last two are really difficult to see.

Different activities can be done in the park such us walking along the Belgrano Peninsula, climbing the Leon Hill, fishing on some of the park's lakes and rivers or driving to the Burmeister Lake. 

Meals: Breakfast 

Transport: 4WD Vehicle

Accommodation: Estancia La Oriental 


Day 12: Drive to El Chalten

Distance of drive: 515 km

Back again on Route 40 we will cross an immense plateau that leads to the town of Gobernador Gregores, where we will stop for a quick-lunch. Soon the pavement comes to an end and we will cover 80 km of unpaved road with spectacular views of Cardiel Lake along the way.

Back on the paved road again we will reach Tres Lagos and head to El Chalten, the Argentine capital of trekking, with innumerable attractions for hikers and mountain climbers. The most iconic ones are mounts Fitz Roy (3,405 m) and Torre (3,102) which attract climbers from all over the world due to their extreme technical difficulty. If the weather conditions are good this part of the route offers majestic landscapes, with great views of the impressive Fitz Roy massif and the Viedma Glacier, both within the Glaciers National Park. 

Meals: Breakfast 

Transport: 4WD Vehicle

Accommodation: El Chalten, Nothofagus B&B


Day 13: Trekking in El Chalten

We spend a day in El Chalten trekking in one of the most beautiful places for it on Earth. There are plenty of options of different physical demand ranging from easy ones like the Condors Viewpoint (2 hours), moderate ones like the Torre Lagoon on the feet of Torre Glacier (7 hours), Los Tres Lagoon (9 hours) or the Pliege Tumbado Viewpoint (9 hours).

More challenging ones, taking several days, are the trekking on Torre Glacier or to the Marconi pass, with indescribable views across the Southern Ice Field.

After our trekking day we will recover with a good dinner of Patagonian lamb or beef. 

Meals: Breakfast 

Accommodation: El Chalten, Nothofagus B&B


Day 14: Drive to El Calafate

Distance of drive: 375 km

We leave El Chalten early in the morning to cover 215 Km to El Calafate, the gateway to the most famous glacier in the world, Perito Moreno. Along the way we will have great views of the Viedma Lake and Glacier, La Leona and Santa Cruz Rivers and the Argentino Lake.

Once we are in El Calafate we check in at the hotel and then go straight to Los Glaciares National Park to visit the Perito Moreno Glacier, spending all the afternoon there. Walking by the footbridges placed at different levels we will have wonderful views of the glacier, which is 5 km wide and has an average height of 74 m.

Meals: Breakfast 

Transport: 4WD Vehicle

Accommodation:  El Calafate, Hosteria Cauquenes de Nimez. 


Day 15: A Day to Enjoy Los Glaciares National Park

Distance of drive: 160 km

We spend another day in El Calafate to enjoy Los Glaciares National Park at its best, doing an activity of your choice.

Our recommendations are: taking a boat trip in Argentino Lake to see Spegazzini y Upsala glaciers, doing a mini-trekking over Perito Moreno glacier, or visiting Estancia Cristina where we will go on a 4WD vehicle to the Upsala Glacier viewpoint, with views over the South Patagonian Ice Field; then we will visit the estancia house, church and museum. Back to El Calafate and end of our services. 

Meals: Breakfast 

Transport: 4WD Vehicle

Accommodation:  El Calafate, Hosteria Cauquenes de Nimez. 


Prices, Departures and Inclusions

Price from USD $2,650 per person, based on a group of 4 people. For 2 people the price is $4,250 per person.

This trip can run as a group trip, with prices starting from $2,650 per person for a complete group. If you are looking to join a group or you are a solo traveller we will help to form likeminded groups of travellers. Please let us know your travel plans.

The trip can also run on a private basis to fit around your plans. Departures may be tailored and can be set up on a date of your choice. Please note that there is a higher price for smaller groups. Please enquire for further details.

Please get in touch for information on departures.

Includes

  • Transportation and guidance on private group during the entire tour in a modern and comfortable 4WD vehicle
  • Lodging and breakfast for 15 nights on double or triple rooms in the hotels and estancias mentioned on the itinerary. Those are subject to availability by the time of booking, if not available we will look for an alternative of similar quality

Excludes

  • Meals (lunch and dinner), drinks (around $40 per person and day, on average)
  • Entrance fees to National Parks and Cave of Hands
  • Cost of boat trips in Marble Chapels, Caleta Tortel and El Calafate
  • Trekking guide in El Chalten, if needed. (All regular routes are self-guided)
  • Cost of the activity of day 15 in El Calafate; this will be quoted separately once the activity in chosen
  • Any other activity not mentioned above that you might want to take part during the trip
  • Any other expense not specifically mentioned above
  • Travel insurance
  • Personal equipment
  • Gratuities
  • Any visa, passport and vaccination expenses 

Questions about this Trip?