Self-Drive: Grand Patagonia 19d

Itinerary

Even 19 days are barely enough for this epic journey through Patagonia, from Puerto Montt, all the way down to Torres del Paine. It is an amazing journey through the ever-changing landscape as the fjords and temperate rainforests of the north give way to the pampas of the Argentinean side of Patagonia, to the glaciers and jugged mountain ranges of the deep south. The good thing is, you can extend this journey and add some extra days, perhaps to explore Tierra del Fuego, or just to experience the magic of Patagonia at a more leisurely tempo. There is so much to discover!

Day 1
PUERTO MONTT – PETROHUÉ (90 KM / 56 MI)

Pick up your automobile at the airport or the city car rental office and drive to Petrohué located in the Vicente Perez Rosales National Park. You will be accompanied by beautiful views of the Llanquihue Lake and volcanoes. Overnight in Petrohué. (D)

Day 2

VICENTE PÉREZ ROSALES NATIONAL PARK

You will have an entire day to explore the park and its hiking trails or enjoy a variety of outdoor activities organized by the hotel such as rafting, kayaking, trekking or fishing (not included). Overnight in Petrohué. (B, D)

Day 3

PETROHUÉ – HORNOPIREN (200 KM / 124 MI)

Today you will set out to reach the amazing Carretera Austral. Go south along the Reloncaví Fjord, passing the beautiful rivers of Petrohué, Cochamó, and Puelo. As you continue along the road the landscape will contrast between forest and sea. Overnight in Hornopiren. (B)

Day 4

HORNOPIREN – CALETA GONZALO (20 KM / 12 MI + 5 HRS NAVIGATION)

After breakfast, you will board a 4-hour ferry that takes you along the Cholgo Channel and the stunning Comau Fjord. After a brief drive of only 10 minutes, you will take a second ferry to Caleta Gonzalo. Overnight in Caleta Gonzalo. (B)

Day 5

PUMALIN PARK

Today you will have some spare time to discover the primitive forests of the Pumalín Park; one of Chile’s main ecotourism attractions. We recommend a hike to one of the various lookout points that boast breathtaking views. Overnight in Caleta Gonzalo. (B)

Day 6

CALETA GONZALO – PUYUHUAPI (245 KM / 152 MI)

After breakfast, you will continue south pass Chaitén towards Lake Risopatrón. This is a stunning drive filled with impressive views of rivers, lakes, glaciers, and mountains. Overnight in Puyuhuapi. (B)

Day 7

PUYUHUAPI AND QUEULAT NATIONAL PARK

Today you will visit the quaint village of Puyuhuapi and spend time hiking in the Queulat National Park. The park contains 1,541 km² / 595 mi² of glacier-capped mountains and virgin evergreen forests. Overnight in Puyuhuapi. (B)

Day 8
PUYUHUAPI – COYHAIQUE (221 KM / 137 MI)

Today´s trip continues past the Queulat National Park and through the spectacular valleys of the region. Shortly before arriving at the capital of the Aysén region, Coyhaique, you will also pass through the Simpson National Reserve. Overnight in Coyhaique. (B)

Day 9
 COYHAIQUE – GENERAL CARRERA LAKE (265 KM / 165 MI)

A beautiful but long drive calls for an early departure. Your trip today will lead you to the immense Lake General Carrera. Stop for magnificent views from the various lookout points along the lengthy and uninhabited stretch of the Carretera Austral. Make sure you don’t miss a visit to the Marble Caves just after Puerto Río Tranquilo. Overnight close to the shores of Lake General Carrera. (B)

Day 10
 GENERAL CARRERA LAKE

Take delight in the beautiful landscapes and explore the surroundings of the lake. Overnight close to the shores of the Lake General Carrera. (B)

Day 11
GENERAL CARRERA LAKE – LAGO POSADAS (212 KM / 132 MI)

After breakfast, you will start to drive west. At the crossing with Ruta 7, you will turn left, heading south along the river Baker towards the direction of Cochrane. After about 40 km you need to turn left towards the Chacabuco Valley; an unknown region with a great diversity of terrain, wildlife, and geology. The road has many curves, so drive carefully. Overnight near Lago Posadas. (B)

Day 12
POSADAS LAKE – EL CHALTÉN (530 KM / 330 MI)

Today, you will set out for an especially long trip to El Chaltén along Route 40; the “Patagonian Highway”. El Chaltén is situated at the foot of the Fitz Roy Mountain Range. Overnight in El Chaltén. (B)

Day 13
EL CHALTÉN (FITZ ROY)

This will be a relaxing and fun day in El Chaltén. We suggest hiking in the national park and visiting the Southern Ice Field. Another option is to join a boat trip to the Viedma Glacier in the morning. Overnight in El Chaltén. (B)

Day 14
EL CHALTEN – EL CALAFATE (212 KM / 132 MI)

You will drive around Lake Viedma today to reach another huge glacier lake called Lago Argentino. You will spend the night on the shores of the lake. Overnight in El Calafate. (B)

Day 15
EL CALAFATE

Visit the magnificent glacier Perito Moreno, a true natural wonder. Specified trekking routes can be organized. Overnight in El Calafate. (B)

Day 16
EL CALAFATE – TORRES DEL PAINE (350 KM / 217 MI)

You will drive into Chile via Cerro Castillo through the vast pampa and arrive at one of the most beautiful national parks of the American continent; Torres del Paine. Enjoy the views on your way to your hostería. Overnight in or close to the Torres del Paine National Park. (B)

Day 17
TORRES DEL PAINE (110 KM / 68 MI)

Visit some of the various sites within the park, navigate to the Grey Glacier or trek along one of the trails to experience this magnificent landscape close up. Overnight in or close to the National Park Torres del Paine. (B)

Day 18
TORRES DEL PAINE – PUNTA ARENAS (400 KM / 249 MI)

On this 4 to 6 hour drive to Punta Arenas, you can visit the Mylodon Cave where scientists discovered the remains of a giant sloth. When arriving in Punta Arenas you can explore this historical city on the shores of the Magellan Strait. Overnight in Punta Arenas. (B)

Day 19
CAR DROP OFF AT PUNTA ARENAS

Your amazing Patagonian adventure ends in Punta Arenas where you will return your car at the airport or the downtown car rental office.

Rates in 2018

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.

 

Edit
Car Type rate per person
with Europcar cat I3 $3372
with Europcar cat J3 $3777
with Europcar cat G2 $4510
with Europcar cat F2 $3550
with Hertz cat G $3916
with Hertz cat J $3854
This itinerary can start either in Puerto Montt, heading south to Punta Arenas, or the other way around.

There are daily flights from Santiago to Puerto Montt and to Punta Arenas.

Both airports are some distance away from their respective town centers.

  • 18 nights including breakfast (and dinner at hotel Petrohue).
  • 19 days car rental including unlimited free mileage, local tax, full CDW coverage with a deductible (for details see rental contract).
  • Drop off costs
  • International permission to cross into Argentina with the vehicle
  • Roadmap and descriptions
  • Ferry Tickets
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 Chilean Lake District is known for its temperate but wet climate. In that regard, it is somewhat similar to the Pacific Northwest. The Argentinean side of the Andes is much drier, but not any warmer. Southern Patagonia is well-known for its changeable weather conditions. One can experience all kinds of weather all in a single day. It never gets very hot, even at the height of summer, between December and February.

Gas

in remote areas, gas stations are few and far between. It is highly recommended to ALWAYS fill up on gas whenever you see a gas station so as to avoid running out, somewhere in the middle of nowhere.

Torres del Paine National Park

Torres del Paine is a National Park of outstanding awesomeness, with a short season and relatively few tourist facilities within the park., and a short season. Accordingly, rates are high, especially during the height of the season. Getting there a little earlier than the crowds or a little later in the season will improve your experience. Also, as there are no real supply stores within the park to speak of, and everything that is available has to come from a long way away, it is a good idea to stock up on anything you might need before you get there, either in El Calafate or in Puerto Natales. The park entrance fee is not included and must be paid at the gate.

 

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 woolen)
  • 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 Type

Europcar

cat I3 – Mitsubishi L200 Katana (Mt) or similar

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

cat G2 – Jeep Toyota 4Runner 4WD or similar

cat F2 – Mazda Cx-5 4×4 (At) or similar

Hertz

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.

 

Driving License

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

Hotel Petrohue (Superior Room) (Lago Todos Los Santos)

Located in the Vicente Pérez Rosales National Park, Petrohué Lodge features incredible views of the Todos Los Santos Lake and the majestic volcano Osorno. The accommodation offers 20 comfortable rooms including a private bathroom, safe and heating. In addition, the lodge includes services such as an indoor swimming pool, private parking, laundry service and a restaurant with Chilean and international dishes. This is the perfect spot for travellers to enjoy the beautiful nature of Chile’s lake region and to spend some free time in a place full of unique flora.

Hosteria Catalina (Standard Room), (Hornopirén)

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 cosy 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 cosy, providing basic comforts.

Hosteria Alemana (Standard Room), (Puyihuapi)

Hostería Alemana is located in Puyuhuapi, a small town next to the Queulat National Park. The property represents the history of four German explorers who wanted to live in this remote place. The accommodation boasts 12 comfortable rooms offering a beautiful view of the surrounding garden. The owner serves homemade bread for breakfast and delicious Kuchen, typical German pastries. This place is the perfect starting point to discover the wonders of Patagonia.

Hotel Belisario Jara (Standard Room), (Coyhaique)

Hotel Belisario Jara, which is named after an Argentinian pioneer, is situated in the city centre 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.

Mirador de Guadal (Standard Cabin), (Lago General Carrera)

El Mirador de Guadal is situated on the shores of General Carrera Lake and features six cosy cabins with a capacity for up to 10 people. Each accommodation offers lake views, is equipped with a kitchen, private bathroom, TV, heating, and barbecue area with grill. The cabins are built with local Cypres and Lenga wood, which makes them warm and comfortable, inspired by the simplicity and beauty of the native forests. In addition, there are two family suites available, which can accommodate up to four people.

Rio Tarde Casa Patagonica (Standard Room) (Lago Posadas)

Situated in the remote location of Lago Posadas, this hotel is one of the very few options available in this lonely region of Argentina. It is a simple and basic hotel, which is not easy to find in this remote location. It is not very convenient, but the best available choice for breaking the journey on the long way south, through the Argentinean pampa.

Hotel Lunajuim (Standard Room), (El Chaltén)

Lunajuim is located in downtown El Chaltén and offers travellers a privileged view of Mount Fitz Roy and Mount Torre. Featuring 26 comfortable rooms, each includes a private bathroom with a bathtub, individual heating, and a safe deposit box. Passengers can start their adventurous day with a rich breakfast buffet or enjoy the regional cuisine for lunch in the hotel’s own restaurant. Other facilities include a large living room with library and fireplace, Wi-Fi in the common areas, room and laundry service.

Hotel Sierra Nevada (Standard Room) (El Calafate)

Situated on the main street in El Calafate, this hotel is conveniently located and offers views of Bahia Redonda and the Glaciers National Park. Rooms include a TV, and free Wi-Fi is available.
Each bright rooms is designed with contemporary décor. All of them feature a seating area and a balcony overlooking the garden and the Andes Mountain Range.
A continental breakfast with a variety of local and international ingredients is served at the hotel´s restaurant.

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.

Cabo de Hornos (Standard Room)

Cabo de Hornos is located in the center of Punta Arenas, next to the Plaza Muñoz Gamero. The accommodation features 110 modern rooms including free Wi-Fi, TV, a private bathroom and laundry service. From each room passengers have an amazing view of the Strait of Magellan or the historical town of Punta Arenas. In addition, guests can enjoy exquisite cuisine at the gourmet restaurant and end the day with a premium Chilean wine in front of the fireplace. The combination of the hotel’s central location in town and the closeness to nature will make the traveler’s stay unforgettable.