The Carretera Austral, also known as Chile’s Route 7, is the country’s most challenging and yet wildly beautiful road trip. Stretching 1,240 km through Chile, from Puerto Montt to Villa O’Higgins in Patagonia, the route takes you through untamed landscapes that constantly change and evolve. One moment the road will be fringed with lush, dense forests and the next you will be driving through stark, rugged wilderness with snow-capped mountains forming the backdrop. The entirety of the area is sparsely populated, allowing visitors to truly detach from modern civilization and lose themselves in the lap of nature. There’s no doubt that a road trip along the Carretera Austral will be a trip of a lifetime.
Start location: Puerto Montt
End location: Villa O’Higgins
Duration: Depending on how much time you have, anywhere from 5–10 days.
Best time to go: Summer (December–February) is the ideal time to go as this is when driving conditions will be best. However, Autumn (March–May) is also ok weather-wise and flaunts very beautiful landscapes.
GOOD TO KNOW
- Stock up on food, as supplies in Patagonia are scarce.Driving in South America can be challenging. Only do it if you are a confident driver.
- Cash is your best friend for this road trip, but don’t carry a lot in one go. There are banks in major towns, where you can always withdraw some money for the journey till the next stop. Although there are many ATMs along the way, they aren’t regularly refilled, which makes them very unreliable.
- Make sure you have petty cash to pay for tolls.
- Keep your international driving license handy in case you get pulled over by the police.
- Learn some basic Spanish in case you need to ask for directions.