Things to consider

Road tripping in Patagonia is to journey past awe-inspiring scenery, from national parks to mountains, glaciers to rivers, along some adventurous terrain and into the heart of Patagonia.

  • It doesn't have to be just you and the open road. We can set you up with a driver and a guide, either privately or as part of a group trip. 
  • Go from A to B, or choose a loop  (and avoid the drop off fee!)
  • Bumpy gravel roads are there for the adrenaline seekers, but there are also flat plains and tarmac for cautious drivers
  • It's not all about the destination. A road trip can get you to Patagonia's more hidden gems, so don't forget to plan in time to get out exploring by foot, bike or kayak too.
  • Fit a two-day road trip into a wider itinerary, or set off on a two-month adventure. No matter how much time you have, there's a road trip for you.

1. Route of the Seven Lakes

Where? Round trip from Bariloche

How long? 5 days

Why go? One of the most spectacular stretches of road in the lake district, the Route of the Seven Lakes is a beautiful scenic drive on a portion of Ruta 40. The famous lakes are surrounded by virgin forests, mountains and volcanoes, making for a breathtaking few days on the road. A relatively short, circuitous route, fit it into a longer itinerary in the lake district with some time hiking, sightseeing or relaxing at a lakeside lodge.

Conditions? Majority paved roads.

Bariloche Seven Lakes

2. Rainforest, glaciers and the Carretera Austral

Where? Round trip from Balmaceda

How long? 1 - 2 weeks

Why go? Dramatic, verdant and wild, this region of Chile has big scenery. Drive through a landscape that has glaciers breaking through valleys, thick forests reaching the waterline and meandering fjords. Stop off en-route to visit the Northern Patagonian ice field, the glittering Marble Caves, and the enormous General Carrera Lake among much more. 

Conditions? Adventurous. Distances can be long, roads are unpaved and bumpy and in the hours from village to village you'll experience truly remote Patagonia.


3. Ruta 40 and the Patagonian Steppe

Where?  Bariloche to El Calafate

How long? 10 days

Why go? A classic self-drive route down the infamous Ruta 40. Weave in and out of the Patagonian Steppe and the foothills of the Andes, exploring lesser-known national parks and pre-historic caves along the way. You'll finish in the Los Glaciares region, with its iconic mountains and 356 glaciers that tumble into icy lakes.

Conditions? Mostly paved.

ruta 40

4. Route of the Volcanoes

Where? Temuco/Pucon to Bariloche

How long? 7 days

Why go? Criss-cross both the Chilean and Argentinian lake districts under the watchful eyes of towering volcanoes, and drive the iconic Route of the Seven Lakes. The hiking is some of the best in the region: summit the still active Villarica Volcano, hike amongst monkey puzzle trees, under waterfalls and up to natural thermal pools, or along bright blue sparkling lakes. 

Conditions? Mostly paved roads, with relatively short driving distances and plenty of possible stops on route for provisions.

Sally - Villarica

5. The end of the Carretera Austral

Where?  Balmaceda to El Chalten 

How long? 6 - 12 days

Why go? To get off the beaten track, you can't beat a route that is not yet 100% set up for tourists. Begin your drive by weaving through landscapes that feel more appropriate for dinosaurs, past Exploadores Glacier, the marble caves and Caleta Tortel (built entirely on stilts). Continue to Villa O'Higgins, the end of the road, where you'll do a 48 hr, little-known border crossing into El Chalten via the vast Glacier O'Higgins. 

Conditions? Adventurous. The border crossing is still little-know, subject to extreme weather conditions, and requires a night of supported camping.

Caleta Tortel

6. Across the Andes to Aysen

Where? Bariloche to Balmaceda

How long? 1 - 2 weeks

Why go? See two completely different landscapes of Patagonia in this route of two parts.

First travel through the Patagonian Steppe and Andean foothills on Ruta 40 to Welsh Patagonia, with its strong Welsh cultural heritage and spectacular rocky scenery not found anywhere else in Patagonia. Spend a few days exploring, then continue on a wild, remote road across the border into Chile to Futaleufu.


The second half will take you through the remote and verdant landscapes of Aysen in Chile. Spend a few days exploring Futaleufu's world-renowned, dramatic rivers, possibly by whitewater raft or kayak, before continuing to the remote Queulat national park, with its huge waterfalls.

Base yourself in a homely lodge for a few nights as you explore the national park. The final leg of the journey takes you south through wild and pristine landscapes, to Coyhaique at the heart of the Aysen region.

Conditions? Some paved roads, some more remote unpaved routes.


More self-drive road trips

Private, guided road trips

Group tour road trips

Explore Patagonia by car

Ready to plan your Patagonia adventure?

  • Swoop Patagonia Expert Chloe
  • Swoop Patagonia Expert Peter
  • Swoop Patagonia Expert Natascha
  • Swoop Patagonia Expert Taylor
  • Swoop Patagonia Expert Iain

Whatever your budget, group size, length of stay, preferred activity or appetite for adventure, we can help.


Self driving the highlights

Southern Patagonia drive