Self Drive The Austral Highway in Chile

Drive the length of the Carretera Austral, a road described as a feat of engineering, through Chile’s wild and least populated region. A drive of a lifetime past fjords, forests, glaciers and lakes with almost nobody else around!

Places you visit: Santiago – Puerto Varas – Hornopiren – Caleta Gonzalo – Queulat National Park – Coyhaique – Puerto Rio Tranquillo – Lake General Carrera – Casablanca Valley

Tour Itinerary

View a day by day summary below or

Day 1: Arrive in Santiago, transfer to your hotel

santiago chile

Touch down in Santiago, capital of Chile. Your friendly guide will be waiting at the airport to welcome you to Chile and take you by private transfer straight to your hotel. The rest of the day is at leisure.

Meals Included: None today

Suggested Accommodation: Hotel Orly

Day 2: A Private City Tour of Santiago

santiago chile central square

Discover the history and culture of Santiago on a leisurely tour accompanied by one of our excellent local guides.

Meals Included: Breakfast

Suggested Accommodation: Hotel Orly

Day 3: Fly to the Chilean Lake District

puerto varas and osorno volcano chile

After breakfast, take a short flight to Puerto Montt and transfer to the pretty lakeside town of Puerto Varas. This afternoon you have some free time to explore this beautiful town known as the ‘city of Roses’. Take a stroll along the lakeside path, browse the shops, or get a coffee.

Meals Included: Breakfast

Suggested Accommodation: Hotel Mero Gaucho

Day 4: Catamaran trip to Peulla

view of osorno volcano on catamaran tour chile

Today you will enjoy a spectacular catamaran trip across the emerald green coloured Todos Los Santos lake to the beautiful town of Peulla. There are magnificent views of snow capped volcanoes and you will also stop at Petrohue falls.

Meals Included: Breakfast

Suggested Accommodation: Hotel Mero Gaucho

Day 5: Day trip to Chiloé Island & Penguins

punihuil penguin tour chiloe island chile

Explore the mystical island of Chiloe, the historic town of Ancud and the Penguin islands where you will take a boat trip to see the Humboldt and Magellan penguins.

Meals Included: Breakfast

Suggested Accommodation: Hotel Mero Gaucho

Day 6: Start your self drive on the Carretera Austral

self drive tour on the austral highway in chile

Start your drive south on the historic Austral highway. Pass the towns of Chamiza and Metri before taking the ferry to Caleta Puelche. From here continue to the small settlement of Hornopiren where you stop overnight.

Meals Included: Breakfast

Suggested Accommodation: Hosteria Catalina

Day 7: Hornopiren to Caleta Gonzalo

hornopiren to caleta gonzalo ferry crossing in chile

Today you have a 3 hour ferry crossing with impressive views of the Andes mountains and Patagonian Fjords. Disembark at a beautiful bay and take a short drive to Caleta Gonzalo. Pull up to your characterful accommodation on the edge of the Renihúe Fjord.

Meals Included: Breakfast

Suggested Accommodation: Cabañas Caleta Gonzalo

Day 8: Exploring Pumalin National Park

pumalin national park chile

Created in 1992 by legendary conservation icons, Douglas and Kristine Tompkins, Pumalin national park makes up 994,000 acres of beautiful natural scenery. Explore this beautiful area with the many well marked hiking trails.

Meals Included: Breakfast

Suggested Accommodation: Cabañas Caleta Gonzalo

Day 9: Caleta Gonzalo to Queulat National Park

hotel el pangue in chile carretera austral

Today’s drive will be about 125 miles in total, taking you further into the humid evergreen forests of Northern Patagonia. Stop overnight at a hotel on the edge of Risopatron lake.

Meals Included: Breakfast

Suggested Accommodation: Hotel El Pangue

Day 10: Queulat National Park to Coyhaique

Ventisquero hanging glacier queulat national park chile

Continue your road trip passing the quaint town of Puyhuapi on the edge of a fjord. Visit Queulat national park and the Ventisquero hanging glacier before stopping tonight in Coyhaique.

Meals Included: Breakfast

Suggested Accommodation: Hotel Belisario Jara

Day 11: Puerto Rio Tranquillo & Marble Caves

marble caves boat tour chile

Drive further south past Cerro Castillo national park and wonderful scenery arriving at Puerto Rio Tranquillo on the shore of Lake General Carrera. This afternoon visit the mesmerizing Marble Caves by boat.

Meals Included: Breakfast

Suggested Accommodation: Hostal El Puesto

Day 12: Exploradores Glacier Hike & Ice Caves

hiking on exploradores glacier in chile

A fascinating day trip to see the verdant Exploradores valley then hike on the glacier itself. Visit the ice caves and witness the crystal clear ice on frozen pathways with panoramic views.

Meals Included: Breakfast

Suggested Accommodation: Hostal El Puesto

Day 13: Drive around the lake to Puerto Guadal

view of lake general carrera in chile

A short drive today around to the other side of the lake. Check in to your lodge with log cabin style rooms and incredible views of the turquoise water of the lake. Have a leisurely afternoon admiring the stunning scenery.

Meals Included: Breakfast

Suggested Accommodation: El Mirador de Guadal

Days 14 & 15: Exploring Patagonia

guanacos in parque patagonia chile

Two days to explore the area. We highly recommend you visit Parque Patagonia, located about an hour south toward Cochrane. You can also visit the confluence of the Baker and Nef rivers as well as the Leones valley and glacier. Optional extension to Caleta Tortel – please discuss this with us.

Meals Included: Breakfast

Suggested Accommodation: El Mirador de Guadal

Day 16: Balmaceda to the Wine Valley

swimming pool at hotel boutique casablanca chile

Today you depart early for the drive back to the nearest airport in Balmaceda. From here fly back to Santiago. In Santiago a driver will be waiting to take you to your relaxing wine hotel in the Casablanca valley. Please ask for options to stay on a vineyard. Evening at leisure by the pool.

Meals Included: Breakfast

Suggested Accommodation: Hotel Boutique Casablanca

Day 17: Departure or extend

plane flying into the sunset

End your trip here, or why not extend it further! You could fly north to the Atacama desert, or stay on a few more nights in a vineyard. Every trip we organise is different, tailored to your particular requirements. Get in touch with someone who knows Chile like the back of their hand to start planning.

Meals Included: Breakfast

Our Suggested Accommodation

With this tour we have picked a selection of characterful mid range properties, most of which are small, family owned guesthouses and B&B’s. If you would like to upgrade the hotels to more luxurious options, please let us know and we can make some excellent personal recommendations. 

Tour Inclusions

  • All accommodation
  • All internal flights
  • Car hire with maps and guides
  • All tours as specified in the itinerary
  • All private transfers
  • All meals as specified in the itinerary
  • All entrance fees
  • 24 hour emergency assistance
  • 100% financial protection with our ATOL license & ABTA membership
  • Our exclusive 100+ page trip guidebook, personalised to your trip
  • Full support from your dedicated specialist
  • International flights
  • Discretionary gratuities to drivers and guides
  • Travel insurance

Book this tour

Start planning your trip by calling us on 0208 191 7772 or complete the form below and we’ll get back to you within one working day.

All trips are operated by HeadsEast Ltd, UK Company registration number 6717612
© Copyright 2008-19 HeadsEast Ltd

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