Self-Drive: Northern Carretera Austral 6d
This short itinerary visits some of the most beautiful parts of northern Patagonia on a point-to-point drive, from Puerto Montt to Balmaceda. Along the way are many National Parks, including Chile’s first, Vicente Pérez Rosales National Park, Hornopiren, Pumalin, and Queuelat, with its stunning hanging glacier. The saturated green of the temperate rainforest that hugs the coastal mountains and fjords has a truly magical quality.
This itinerary can easily be combined with the Southern Carretera Austral itinerary, or one of the Lake District itineraries.
PUERTO MONTT – HORNOPIREN (99 KM / 62 MI)
Pick up your car at the Puerto Montt Airport and start your trip along the Carretera Austral. You will pass the towns of Chamiza and Metri before arriving at the ferry crossing at Caleta La Arena. After a 45-minute ferry ride, you will arrive at Caleta Puelche. From there continue on your drive for approximately 2 hours until reaching the settlement of Hornopiren. Overnight in or near Hornopiren.
HORNOPIREN – CALETA GONZALO (10 KM / 6 MI)
From Hornopiren board the ferry to Leptepu. The journey will take approximately 3 hours during which you will be able to observe impressive views of the Andes Mountain Range and Patagonian Fjords. After arriving in Leptepu take a short drive to your final ferry that will transport you to Caleta Gonzalo. Overnight in or near Caleta Gonzalo. (B)
CALETA GONZALO AND PUMALÍN PARK
Day at leisure to explore your surroundings and the Pumalín Park. Designated a Nature Sanctuary in 2005, it is Chile’s largest private nature reserve and is operated as a public access park. In addition conservation area not only provides a spectacular wilderness experience, but also protects the area’s threatened ecosystem and species. Overnight in or near Caleta Gonzalo. (B)
CALETA GONZALO – RISOPATRÓN LAKE – EL PANGUE (202 KM / 125 MI)
Today’s drive will take you further south along the humid evergreen forests of Northern Patagonia passing the marvelous Lago Yelcho and the town of La Junta. Your finale destination for the day will be Risopatrón Lake. Overnight at or near Risopatron Lake. (B)
EL PANGUE – QUEULAT NATIONAL PARK – COYHAIQUE (220 KM /140 MI)
Drive southbound witnessing ever-changing landscapes. During the day stop and visit the Queulat National Park and the Ventisquero Hanging Glacier for spectacular natural scenery. Afterwards continue towards the city of Coyhaique, capital of the Aysen region. Overnight in or near Coyhaique. (B)
COYHAIQUE – BALMACEDA (55 KM / 34 MI)
Drive to the airport of Balmaceda to drop off the car and board your flight. (B)
Rates in 2019/2020
valid from October 15, 2019 – March 31, 2020
Self-drive itineraries are highly flexible and can be adjusted to your preferences. The rates below are sample rates for this itinerary with the specific car types and hotels mentioned in the table. However, Hotels are subject to availability as well as your choice. The final rate of this itinerary will reflect the specific options you have chosen in the course of developing your itinerary.
Rates are per person, based on double occupancy. For single or triple rates, different hotels or extra nights, please inquire.
|Car type||Rate per person|
|Europcar cat I3||$1333|
|Europcar cat J3||$1648|
|Mitta cat G||$1576|
|Hertz cat J||$1550|
- 5 nights including breakfast.
- 6 days car rental (Hertz category G) including unlimited free mileage.
- Local tax, full CDW coverage with a deductible (for details see rental contract) for any damage that may occur during the rental period.
- Drop off fee.
- Roadmap and descriptions.
Chile car rental companies charge an additional airport service fee when the vehicle will be picked up from the airport. This service charge is not included in the published rates. This extra fee has to be paid upon returning the car.
The Lake District and to some extend northern Patagonia as well, have a relatively mild, but wet climate, somewhat similar to the Pacific Northwest of the US. While it never gets really hot, one can almost be certain that at some point it will rain.
cat I3 – Mitsubishi L200 Katana (Mt) or similar
cat J3 – Mitsubishi L200 Katana Crt 4×4 (Mt) or similar
cat G – Toyota RAV4 or similar
cat J – Mitsubishi L200 4×2 Katana or similar
Please note that car rental companies only reserve a specific category of cars, not a specific type of car within that category.
Please mention at the time of booking if you need a vehicle with automatic transmission.
Rental cars do not come with a GPS system by default. They can be added on at an additional cost, but the cover is not complete in remote areas.
Foreign nationals must have an international driver’s license in order to be able to drive in Chile.
Hostería Catalina is located only steps away from the downtown area of Hornopirén, next to a national park, in the northern section of the Carretera Austral. The hostel offers free Wi-Fi, a beautiful garden, an on-site restaurant with fireplace, parking, game room and magnificent views of the Hornopirén Volcano. Hostería Catalina boasts 6 cozy bedrooms equipped with cable TV, heating, private bathroom, and all amenities guests need to enjoy a genuine Patagonian experience.
Hosteria Caleta Gonzalo (Cabin) (Pumalin)
Rustic cabins in the Pumalin Park, an ideal base for exploring the beautiful fjords in this Nature Reserve, as well as some of the sustainability projects that are based there. Pumalin Park is a very interesting project, which started off as a private nature reserve to protect this pristine and magical region. The cabins are simple but cozy, providing basic comforts.
Cabañas El Pangue (Standard room)
Cabañas El Pangue is located on the northern bank of the Risopatrón Lake, 18 km / 11 mi north of Puyuhuapi. Offering modern amenities, the property can accommodate up to 55 people. The cabins are comfortable and cozy with a capacity to accommodate 2 to 7 guests. Each lodge is fully equipped and includes heating, private bathroom with a tub and wooden furnishings.
Hotel Belisario Jara (Standard room)
Hotel Belisario Jara, which is named after an Argentinian pioneer, is situated in the city center of Coyhaique, near the main square. The accommodation boasts 8 rooms, each featuring a private bathroom, central heating, Wi-Fi access, and TV. Other facilities include a common living and dining room, snack bar, laundry service and parking lots.