This 7 day self-drive itinerary explores the wilderness of the southern Carretera Austral. The Carretera Austral leads through some of the most stunningly beautiful and dramatic scenery in southern Chile, yet, due to its remoteness, it remains off the beaten path. If you are looking for pristine wilderness, this is where it can still be found in the lakes and fjords and ancient (and now rare) native forests that still clad the Andes.
Pick up your car at the car rental desk at the Balmaceda airport. The dry Pampa will gradually give way to the green forests as you cross the pass at the National Reserve of Cerro Castillo. On the other the side of the pass the road descends to the beautiful river valley to Ibañez, crossing a forest that is covered with thick layers of ashes from the volcano Hudson, which erupted violently in 1991. In the afternoon you arrive at your hosteria at Pto Rio Tranquilo.
After about 8 hours of driving, you will arrive in the hamlet of Caleta Tortel where you will spend the night. The natural surroundings accompanying this drive are astonishing. (B)
An early departure is advisable, to explore the southern most parts of the incredible Southern Highway. The village of Tortel was only recently connected to the "mainland" by road; this unique village is completely built on wooden pillars rising from the water of the Pacific Ocean. An extended system of wooden walkways connects houses and people to each other, definitely a special place to visit. (B)
You will head back up North today. You could visit the Tamango National Reserve or enter the Chacabuco Valley on the way. Overnight at the shores of the General Carrera Lake. (B)
You will have the entire day to discover the surroundings of Lake General Carrera. You will be able to go on hikes, horseback rides or take one of the boat ride excursions offered by the lodge. (B)
Drive back to the airport of Balmaceda to drop off the car and board your connecting flight. (B) (B)