Self-Drive: Chilean Patagonia

Itinerary

This ‘whirlwind’-itinerary is a very short introduction to one of the world’s best National Parks, and favorite hiking destination. Torres del Paine National Park is situated at the very tip of mainland Chile, bordering onto the southern ice-field. Its wilderness still maintains a wild, untamed beauty and its mountain massif is iconic. With your own wheels, you are free to explore the parks most scenic spots at your leisure, take strolls or longer hikes or enjoy a boat ride on Lago Grey to admire Grey Glacier close up.

Day 1

PUNTA ARENAS – PUERTO NATALES (250 KM / 155 MI)

Pick up your car at the airport or downtown rental car office in Punta Arenas. Take some time to explore the cultural and natural wonders of this southern region, known as the entrance to the Antarctic continent. Learn about the history of Punta Arenas and visit a variety of monuments and points of interest including the main square, the navy and maritime museum, the famous Roca Street, the Nao Victoria Museum, the Patagonian Institute and of course the city’s coastline. Located on the edge of the Strait of Magellan this metropolis is full of quaint charm and offers visitors a different perspective of life in Chile. When the time is right, proceed to your destination. Overnight in Puerto Natales.

Day 2

PUERTO NATALES – TORRES DEL PAINE (150 KM / 94 MI) The drive to Torres del Paine National Park will take you deep into the Patagonia countryside. On your way, don’t forget to visit the Milodon Cave where scientists discovered the remains of a giant sloth. Afterward, continue on to the Torres del Paine National Park where you will be welcomed by spectacular sights of gigantic granite towers and impressive mountain peaks. Overnight in Torres Del Paine National Park. (B)

Day 3

TORRES DEL PAINE Day at leisure to explore one of the most remarkable national parks in the world due to its unique wildlife and dramatic scenery encompassing mountains, glaciers, lakes, and rivers. Its main attraction is the Torres Del Paine peaks of the mountain range, Cerro Paine. They extend 3,050 meters above sea level, and are joined by the Cuernos Del Paine, making for a dramatic and breathtaking sight. Additionally there are several hiking trails available varying in length and difficulty. Overnight in Torres Del Paine National Park. (B)

Day 4

TORRES DEL PAINE – PUNTA ARENAS (400 KM / 245 MI) Today, make your way back to Punta Arenas to drop off your rental vehicle. (B)

Rates in 2018

Self-drive itineraries are highly flexible and can be adjusted to your preferences.

The rates are per person, based on two people sharing a room using the hotels mentioned under ‘Hotel Information’. They can be exchanged for other options if desired, or if the standard options are not available. This will change the rates accordingly. A single supplement will apply if two people traveling together each require their own room. Breakfast is included.

For single or triple rates, please inquire.

 

 

Edit
Car type Standard Superior
with Europcar cat I3 $636 $744
with Europcar cat J3 $738 $845
with Hertz cat G $664 $730
with Hertz cat J $646 $712

The southernmost tip of Patagonia is accessed via the port town of Punta Arenas. There are several flights daily from/to Santiago or Puerto Montt. There is also a regular cargo ferry that makes its way through the fjords, much more slowly. Another way to get to Punta Arenas is on a cruise from Ushuaia (ARG.) There are also regular buses between Ushuaia and Punta Arenas. For those coming from El Calafate, a semi-private transfer can be arranged, and there is also a regular bus that makes the run between El Calafate and Puerto Natales, the nearest access hub to Torres del Paine. By car, the journey from Punta Arenas to Puerto Natales takes about 3 hours. From there it takes approximately another 2 hours to reach the park.

  • 3 nights including breakfast.
  • 4 days car rental 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.
  • 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.

Weather
The weather in Patagonia is notoriously unpredictable, or, as they say, ‘if you don’t like the weather, just wait 30min.’  However, there are some general things that can be said about it. Patagonia lies very far to the south.which means, the summer season is short. Spring starts around November, summer begins in December, and it is all over by March. The winter is harsh and few places stay open year-round.
Temperatures, even in the summer, are never really high and it gets cold at night. The region is also known for its fierce winds, which are worst during the summer months. Rain can just appear out of no-where.
Best time to visit
Most people visit during the summer months when it is warmest. But spring and autumn are better for those who appreciate the calm after the crowds have left (or before they arrive) and prefer a close-to-nature experience.
Money
There are no ATMs in the park. There is a little convenience-type store, but it is best to bring everything you are going to need with you and shop for supplies in Puerto Natales. Prices for everything are very high in Torres del Paine.

Due to the variable weather conditions, it makes sense to pack for all weathers and to think ‘layers’.

  • thermal underwear
  • fast drying, weatherproof outdoor pants
  • warm socks (preferably woollen)
  • breathable Shirts (e.g. merino wool)
  • wind and weatherproof jacket
  • warm hat and scarf and gloves
  • sun protection, lip balm, sunglasses
  • comfortable, non-slip hiking boots
  • day pack
  • flashlight and spare batteries

Car types

Europcar

cat I3: Mitsubishi L200 Katana (Mt) or similar (Pick-up)

cat J3: Mitsubishi L200 Katana Crt 4×4 (Mt) or similar

Hertz

cat G: Toyota RAV4 or similar

cat J: Mitsubishi L200 4×2 Katana or similar (diesel)

 

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.

 

Driving License

Foreign nationals must have an international driver’s license in order to be able to drive in Chile.

 

 

Standard Option: 

Hotel IF Patagonia (Standard room)

This minimalistic designed hotel, which uses solar energy, is located in the city center of Puerto Natales. A warm and relaxed atmosphere invites travelers to stay in one of the 15 modern styled rooms. Each features a private bathroom, heating, Wi-Fi and is decorated with local artisanal elements. The hotel’s restaurant Santolla serves fresh Patagonian seafood and lamb. In addition, the property features a sauna, a wooden outdoor Jacuzzi and magnificent views of the surrounding landscape.

Hotel del Paine (Standard room)

Hotel del Paine is located on the banks of the Serrano River, next to the Torres del Paine National Park in southern Patagonia. After an exciting day full of adventure, guests can enjoy the evening at the restaurant known for its local cuisine and high-quality Chilean wines. The accommodation offers 44 rustic rooms with breathtaking views of the landscape. In addition, the hotel offers free Wi-Fi, parking, hot tub, laundry service and a shop with handcrafted goods by regional artisans. This is the perfect spot to relax after exploring the park’s biodiversity rich in flora and fauna.

Superior Option: 

Costaustralis (City View)

The Costaustralis is located in the middle of Puerto Natales, right next to the bay. The hotel is known for its grandiose style and panoramic views of the Patagonian Andes. The accommodation features 110 comfortable rooms with all the necessary amenities for a comfortable stay. Common areas include a fireplace, reading area, restaurant, bar, and lounge.

Pampa Lodge

Pampa Lodge Patagonia, which used to be a restaurant until 2014, is located only a few kilometers away from the Torres Del Paine National Park, in the area of the Serrano River. The accommodation features 10 modern styled rooms featuring a private bathroom, central heating and amazing views of the surrounding Patagonian Mountains and the Paine Massif. Quincho Restaurant & BBQ serves typical barbecued lamb as well as fish, seafood, and vegetarian dishes. Other facilities include a big lounge area with wood burning stove, bar, and private parking.