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Exploring Chile

Self-drive the Carretera Austral

Your Itinerary

Day 1 - Welcome to Santiago!

Today you will land in Santiago where a guide will meet you and a private car will take you to your hotel. Situated in Providencia, your accommodation enjoys a central location so that you can start exploring the cosmopolitan capital.

Day 2 - Half day city tour (shared)

Described by the international media as a surprising destination, Santiago stands out for being a cosmopolitan and modern city that perfectly combines its traditions with a modern outlook. The tour will take you to visit the heart of the city and its emblematic sites such as the Plaza de Armas, the Cathedral, Santiago’s Central Postal Office and its Municipality. We will also visit the Moneda Palace, which is the government’s headquarters as well as the traditional neighborhoods of the historic city centre. The tour also includes a visit to the Santa Lucia hill, named Huelén by the natives. It is a real urban oasis in the center of the city. There we will learn more about Chile’s history and enjoy some of the best views in the city. After knowing Santiago, we will arrive to Barrio Lastarria, famous for its cultural and gastronomic offerings. The second part of the tour will take you to the eastern side of the city, to the financial heart of Santiago, known for its modern buildings and impressive glass skyscrapers. There, you will see exactly why this area is known as “Sanhattan” among the locals. At the end of the tour you will be dropped back at your hotel to enjoy the rest of the day at leisure. 

Day 3 - Flight to Balmaceda and rental car pick up

This morning you will be picked up at your hotel and taken by private car to the airport to catch your domestic flight (included) to Balmaceda in Southern Patagonia. Once landed make your way to the rental car offices to pick up your car and start your self-driving adventure! Drive the approximate 60 km to reach Coyhaique where you will spend the night.

Day 4 - Drive South to Puerto Rio Tranquilo (216 km approx.)

Leave in the morning and start the stunning drive South towards Puerto Rio Tranquilo where you will spend two nights. In the afternoon, enjoy an excursion by kayak in the famous and truly stunning marble caves. Transport from you hotel to Barra Mansa (4 km south of Puerto Rio Tranquilo) is included. Here you will receive instructions and all the equipment necessary to enjoy a couple of hours in the water exploring the caves with the help of a local guide. The tour is 3 hours approximately in total and there is no need of previous kayaking experience. You will be dropped off back at your hotel at the end.

Day 5 - Full day guided trek of Exploradores glacier (private)

The Ice trek takes place on the Glacier Exploradores, located 52 km west of Puerto Río Tranquilo by the Valley Exploradores road. You will walk on dirty rocky ice in the beginning and then on clear ice, you will have the opportunity to get into the glacier in different caves. It is a full day activity. This tour can be done all year round but is dependable on weather conditions. Realizable activity during the whole year. Transport from and to your hotel is included as well as an English speaking guide. The whole trek is around 6 hours and the tour is a full day with a duration of approximately 9 hours in total.

Day 6 - Drive to Caleta Tortel (240 km approx.)

Another day of driving further South to beautiful Caleta Tortel where you will spend a night. Today’s drive will be around 5 hours but be sure to make plenty of photo stops!

Day 7 - Drive to Puerto Guadal (200 km approx.)

This morning you will drive northbound to Puerto Guadal. On the southwest end of lake General Carrera, this village is picture perfect Patagonia! Surrounded by glaciers and blue lakes, it doesn’t get much more beautiful than this!

Day 8 - Drive to Balmaceda airport (250 km approx.)

Time to drive back to Balmaceda airport. Make sure you leave with plenty of time to drop off your car and catch your domestic flight back to Santiago (included). Once landed, make your way to your airport hotel for your last overnight.

Day 9 - Departure

This morning after breakfast, make your way to the terminal to catch your flight home or to you onward destination.

What's included?

  • Prices start from £2,187 per person
  • 8 nights in 3* hotels B&B basis
  • Private and shared transfers
  • All domestic flights within Chile in Economy
  • 6 days rental car K1 category (Toyota New Hilux or similar)
  • All tours on a shared basis including the service of an English speaking guide
  • All entrance fees
  • Some lunches on excursions
  • Local taxes
  • All trips are ATOL protected or ABTA bonded to ensure you are fully covered

PLEASE NOTE: This itinerary is only a suggestion and can be tailored to your exact requirements. Driving the Carretera is absolutely safe and makes for an unforgettable trip but a little sense of adventure is desirable.

All prices correct at the time of writing.  Give us a call or email us at to discuss your requirements and get a confirmed price.

Please remember this is a sample itinerary and we are happy to modify it to suit your plans.  We can add or remove days and look at different places to stay.

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This itinerary is the ultimate adventure in Chile as you self-drive arguably one of the most remote and beautiful destinations in the world! The Austral Highway, or Carretera Austral as the locals call it, is the name given to Chile’s Route 7. It runs for about 1,240 km from Puerto Montt, in the lake region of Northern Patagonia, to Villa O’Higgins, in the South. It travels through true Patagonian landscapes and rural villages thus offering the ultimate Patagonian experience if you want to get under the skin of this remarkable destination. It is much less travelled than the Southern National Parks so if you like adventure and to live unforgettable moments in close contact with nature and local cultures, this holiday is a once in your life journey and a must!

The capital of Chile is a vibrant and cosmopolitan city worth spending a few nights in. My favourite places are Lastarria and Bellavista neighbourhood, where you can find plenty of bars, restaurants and boutique shops to keep you entertained, and still close enough to the city's highlights.
Atacama Desert
The Atacama Desert will surely not disappoint you if you are looking for out of this world landscapes! San Pedro de Atacama is the gateway town to this world wonder, and with plenty of desert lodges for all budgets, 3 nights or more in the region are a must!

Your adventure starts here!

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