Our probably most contrasting itinerary is designed to give the visitor a wide variety of impressions, whether nature, culture or the rich plant and animal world. The trip begins in the gateway to the lake and volcano region, continuing along famous Carretera Austral through deepest jungle interrupted by the Chilean fjords.
The drive on the Argentinean side continues along legendary Ruta 40, through the vastness of the Patagonian steppe. Snow-covered mountains which rise on the horizon, huge glacial lakes whipped by the wind, captivating moods and experiences will keep every traveler in everlasting remembrance.
Arriving in Santiago de Chile
Arrival at Santiago de Chile airport, transfer to the hotel. 1 overnight stay at city-hotel.
Santiago Puerto Montt
Transfer to the airport. Flight to Puerto Montt. Car reception at the airport and short drive to Puerto Varas, on huge Llanquihue lake. 2 overnight stays at hotel.
Drive distance: 20 km paved.
Angelmó & Llanquihue lake
In the morning short drive to Puerto Montt and visit of the handcraft and the typical fisher market Angelmó. Afternoon free just to enjoy the beautiful little village of Puerto Varas, which lies on the lake shore in front of four impressive volcanoes.
Puerto Varas – Hornopirén
Today the trip continues southwards. Short ferry crossing over the Reloncavi fjord at Caleta Arena, than following Carretera Austral to Hornopirén. 1 overnight at simple hostel.
Distance: 80 km paved, 65 km gravel.
Entering Pumalin park
In the morning take a second ferry crossing for about 4 h (12:30-16:30) to Leptepu, one hour drive to Fiordo Largo and last short ferry crossing to Caleta Gonzalo.
Pumalin Natural Reserve is located in a marvelous rainforest with food tracks lined by giant ferns and leaves of wild rhubarb, lagoons and old “alerce” trees. 2 overnight stays at a complex of cabins.
The Pumalín conservation area not only provides visitors a spectacular wilderness experience, but also protects the area’s threatened ecosystem and species. It is rich in flora, with many endemic species and subspecies. The evergreen broadleaved forest, known in Chile as the Valdivian temperate rainforest, includes thousands of plant species. The park protects some of the last remaining stands of alerce trees, one of the oldest species on Earth. Many hikes can be done in its surroundings.
Pumalín – Puyuhuapi
The trip continues along Carretera Austral until reaching Puyuhuapi, a small harbor lying on the Ventisquero fjord, surrounded by the Queulat National Park.
The inhabitants are principally descendants from German immigrants, who have built a flourishing trade here and a carpet weaving industry which continues to prosper to this day.
2 overnight stays at Puyuhuapi thermal hotel.
Distance: 120 km paved, 105 km gravel.
Reaching a hanging glacier
A short road trip and a two-hour hike through the Valdivian forest, at the end of which one is suddenly rewarded with an incredible view of a hanging glacier, which seems to appear out of thin air from above, bulldozing its way down through this thick forest and coming to a halt against a vertical rock face. With some luck we may experience the thunderous reports of huge blocks of ice breaking free crashing into the depths below.
Puyuhuapi – Coyhaique
The trip continues southward until reaching Coyhaique. On this stretch of road we notice the forest becoming denser and more humid in the Queulat National Park, which eventually turns into a more open agricultural region. Overnight stay at hotel.
Distance: 90 km gravel, 180 km paved.
Coyhaique – Puerto Guadal
Driving along the Carretera Austral, through wonderful meadow landscapes up through a pass and past Cerro Castillo, impressive because of its shape (Castillo means castle). To the right lies the Hudson Volcano, which covered wide tracts of land in both Chile and Argentina in volcanic ashes during the last eruption in 1991. 3 overnight stays in Puerto Guadal on the huge General Carrera Lake at a lodge.
Distance covered: 90 km paved & 180 km gravel road.
Puerto Guadal lies in a bay renowned for its exceptional micro-climate that allows to visit the area “all year round”, facing Patagonia Northern ice field and its impressive glaciers Leones, Nef and Soler, Laguna San Rafael and Mount San Valentín (4058m), Patagonia’s highest peak.
Some kilometers to the south you can follow the wonderful Río Baker, a fisherman’s paradise until Lake Cochrane, where it’s possible to visit Tamango Nacional Reserve dedicated to “Huemules” (Andean dear) protection and Cerro San Lorenzo (3706m).
General Carreras lake
To the North you can visit by a short boat ride starting in Puerto Río Tranquilo (50 km) the “Capillas de Mármol” , incredible marble caves drown by erosion of the lake waves (especially advisable in the morning light !).
In the afternoon we suggest to drive along beautiful Exploradores Valley.
Reaching Ruta 40
A stunning scenic drive along the lake shore leads us to the border crossing into Argentina and on to the legendary Route 40 to Perito Moreno village. Here begins the vastness of the Patagonian steppe, with the ever present ice-capped mountain tops a constant companion on the horizon. 1 overnight stay at the simple farm Estancia Cueva de las Manos.
Distance covered: 120 km gravel and 135 km paved road.
In the afternoon short drive along the estancia to the Río Pinturas Gorge, continouing with a walk to Cuevas de las Manos. A narrow path from the ranger’s house parallel to the river allows the access to the different shelters and caves. According to experts, the splendid cave paintings belong to at least three different periods of styles on this archeological site, from 7300 B.C. to 1000 A.C. Motives are easy to recognize due to their different techniques and colors.
Once again on Ruta 40, long day drive via Gobernador Gregores to El Chaltén. This brand new site is the starting point of all expeditions to the renowned peaks of Fitz Roy and Torre. 3 overnight stays at hotel.
Drive distance: 530 km paved road, 70 km gravel.
Beautiful granit peak of Fitz Roy
Hike on your own to Laguna de los Tres, at the foot of Cerro Fitz Roy, the most famous peak of the southern Patagonian Andes. For three hours we wander through wonderful forest and mountain landscapes until we reach the base camp Rio Blanco, with Cerro Fitz Roy and neighboring granite peaks always in sight. We then set out on a continuous and steep one-hour climb up the moraine until we reach Laguna de los Tres, directly in front of Cerro Fitz Roy, a grandiose observation point of the impressive Fitz Roy. Easy 6-7 hour hiking, which may also be interrupted after a maximum of 2 hours hiking, especially considering that from this point on hikers will be feasted with incredible panoramas of the mountains. Overnight stay same as previous day.
Legendary Cerro Torre
Hiking to Laguna Torre, at the foot of legendary Cerro Torre, one of the most demanding mountaineering targets worldwide. Its 1400m high steep walls of flat granite are proof of this, the climate being the main factor, which is why mountaineers must often wait for months before the final assault can be made. The suggested hike extends only to Laguna Torre which lies directly at the foot of the mountain. From here one has breathtaking views of a series of windswept granite needles and huge glaciers. Easy 5-6 hour hike. This stretch may also be interrupted after one and a half hours at a first viewing spot.
In the morning, we recommend a drive along the valley of the beautiful Río de las Vueltas to the Lago del Desierto, a glacial lake on the border to Chile, there a short hike is possible along the Eastern lake shore, or a boat ride to the north end of the lake, with wonderful views on a number of hanging glaciers, which flow directly from the southern Ice Field of Patagonia into the valley.
In the afternoon drive back to Calafate. 3 overnights stay at hotel.
Drive distance: 220 km paved.
Today starts a visit to the Perito Moreno glacier, unquestionably one of the greatest attractions Patagonia can offer. From terrace vantage points directly opposite the glacier face, one can observe the thundering breaking off of ice blocks crashing down into the waters of huge Argentino lake.
Estancia Cristina & Upsala glacier
Short drive to Puerto Bandera. Full day boat excursion departing from Puerto Bandera and sailing the Northern branch of Argentino lake among icebergs and stunning scenery overlooking the western front of the Upsala glacier and then through Cristina Canal to the point of disembark at the Estancia. Guided visit to the Costumbrista museum (old shearing shed) and ascent in all-terrain vehicles, travelling 9.5 km through mountainous roads. Arrival to the Continental ice shelter. 30 minute walk. Return to the farm house of the Estancia and possible lunch at the main house.
Torres del Paine
In the morning drive towards Chile passing Cancha Carrera – Cerro Castillo to Torres del Payne National Park. This area is the absolute culmination of what Patagonia has to offer mountain loving visitors. Beautiful mountain massifs, huge glaciers, innumerable glacier lakes in a wide variety of colors and a very rich fauna will leave one with deep impressions. Fauna: guanacos (of the llama family), foxes, ñandúes (small ostrich), black-necked swans, armadillos, skunks and throughout the mountains various bird types, e.g. condors and eagles. 2 overnights at hotel with a beautiful view over the two Horns and main summit of Paine.
Drive distance: 280 km paved, 90 km gravel road.
The National park
Roundtrip through the park visiting Nordenskjöld Lake, Pehoé Lake, Salto Grande with the best view to the “Cuernos”. Than continuing to Laguna Azul, where the best view towards the towers can be enjoyed. A nice hike can be done along the Laguna.
Another option can be a hike to the base of the “Torres”, following the valley of the Ascencio river until the base camp, then a last section upwards until the lagoon located on the foot of the towers. 6-8 hours walk of intermediate level, on well marked and frequented footpaths.
Drive for about 5 hours through via Puerto Natales to Punta Arenas. 1 overnight stay at hotel in the city center. Punta Arenas is a city near the tip of Chile’s southernmost Patagonia región, located on the Strait of Magellan, which connects the Atlantic and Pacific oceans. The Plaza Muñoz Gamero has a memorial to explorer Ferdinand Magellan, and the Museo Nao Victoria features a replica of one of his galleons.
Drive distance: 260 km paved & 70 km gravel road.
Santiago de Chile - departure
Car returnee at the airport. Flight to Santiago de Chile and departure flight.
- Transfers in Santiago de Chile in private service / English.
- Accommodation in double room with private bathroom, breakfast included.
- Rented car: Subaru Forester 4×4, full insurance cover with deductible in case of an accident up to U$D 240 and U$D 1180 for overturn, free mileage, second driver included.
- Argentina entrance permit. Drop off costs Puerto Montt – Temuco & Punta Arenas.
- Ferry ride from Hornopirén to Caleta Gonzalo.
- Boat excursion on Argentino lake to Estancia Cristina.
- National park entrance fees.
- Fuel consumption.