Self-Drive: Southern Carretera Austral 6d



This itinerary can easily be combined with the Northern Carretera Austral itinerary, or one of the Lake District itineraries.

Day 1


Pick up your car at the Balmaceda Airport and start your adventure. As you travel along the dry region it will gradually give way to green forests. In addition, you will cross the famous pass leading to the Cerro Castillo National Park. Continue south to reach your destination. Overnight in or near Puerto Río Tranquilo.

Day 2


Today you will have the day at leisure to explore your surroundings. A hike to the Exploradores Valley and its lookout point is highly recommended as from there you will be able to observe an impressive glacier. In the afternoon you can’t miss a visit to the famous Marble Caves. Please note both suggested excursions are not included. Overnight in Puerto Río Tranquilo. (B)

Day 3


After about an 8-hour drive you will reach the hamlet of Caleta Tortel. The surrounding geography is rugged, formed by a number of islands, fjords, channels, and estuaries. The town itself consists mainly of stilt houses, built along the coast. There are no conventional streets, instead, there are only wooden walkways. Overnight in Caleta Tortel. (B)

Day 4


Today’s drive will take you back up north. Along the way stop to visit either the Tamango National Reserve (named after its awe-inspiring hills: Tamango (1722 m.a.s.l. and Tamanguito 1485 m.a.s.l.) or the Chacabuco Valley. Overnight on the shores of the General Carrera Lake. (B)

Day 5


You will have the entire day to enjoy and discover your surroundings. The General Carrera Lake is the biggest in Chile and is home to several outdoor activities including; hiking, horseback riding and fishing. If you wish, you can also adventure out to visit the town of Chile Chico, located near the Argentinean border. Overnight on the shores of the General Carrera Lake. (B)

Day 6


Drive back to Balmaceda and to its airport to drop off your vehicle and board your flight. (B)

Rates in 2018/2019

valid from October 15, 2018 – March 31, 2019

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 TypeRate per person
Europcar cat I3$931
Europcar cat J3$1092
Hertz cat G$945
Hertz cat J$920
Hertz cat Y$1080
Balmaceda is the closest airport to Coyhaique, the cultural centre of the Aysen region of northern Patagonia. There are flights from Santiago to Balmaceda, most of which connect through Puerto Montt.

Program includes:

  • 5 nights incl. breakfast
  • 6 days car rental including unlimited free mileage
  • Local tax
  • Full CDW coverage
  • Self-drive brochure
  • Roadmap and descriptions.
  • Deductible regarding to general conditions (see above).
  • 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.


Northern Patagonia has a relatively temperate and wet climate. Even during the summer months, one can expect some rain.


When it comes to packing, it is best to think in terms of layers and to try to be prepared for all kinds of weather, when travelling to this region of Chile.


Gas stations are few and far between. Thus, it is prudent to fill up the tank whenever there is an opportunity to do so.


Car types


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.


Driving License

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

Hostal El Puesto (Standard Room)
Hostal El Puesto is located in the small town of Puerto Rio Tranquilo. It is built out of natural materials typical for the region and combined with modern architecture. El Puesto has nine rooms with private bath as well as a big living room. Hotel services include breakfast, lunch, dinner, money exchange and internet access among others. Different kinds of excursions, such as hiking, tours by boat or horseback riding are also offered.

Entre Hielos Lodge (Standard Room)
Located in the unique town of Caleta Tortel, with its houses on stilts and wooden walkways, the Entre Hielos Lodge is the perfect choice for immersion into the depths of Patagonia. The property is situated at the mouth of the Baker River and features six comfortable rooms, restaurant, bar, hot tub and a small library.

Cabañas Mirador de Playa Guadal (Superior Cabin)
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.