Your Santiago airport transfer will take you directly to our joining hotel, ready for the early start tomorrow. Today you will meet your crew for your tour briefing and welcome dinner.
We take a short, early morning, flight south to Puerto Montt, the gateway to Patagonia and the mighty Andes. We shall take possession of our vehicles and depart Puerto Montt, it won’t be long before we are into the wilderness and catching our first ferry across the Relocncaví Estuary, offering superb views of the wooded coastline of this beautiful fjord. Tonight, we stay in Hornopirén spectacularly located on the edge of the Hornopirén National Park.
It’s a short drive today as we spend some time on ferries that form part of the Carretera Austral Road network, sailing between majestic fjords lined with forests. We exit the ferry at Caleta Gonzalo, beautifully located on the Reñihué fjord and the gateway to the Pumalín National Park, home to some of the most pristine wilderness areas left on earth, before arriving at Chaitén.
Today’s drive is yet more breathtaking than the last. We continue through Pumalín National Park, a landscape of lush forests, waterfalls, glaciers, snow-capped mountains, and jaw dropping beauty. We eventually reach Futaleufú located on the shore of the turquoise waters of the Río Espolon.
We continue south along the Carretera Austral through a landscape of endless forests and fjords. Tonight will be spent at the wonderful Puyuhuapi Lodge & Spa, spectacularly located on an island in a fjord and can only be accessed by a boat, it’s a real wilderness treat far from any settlement.
Leaving the lodge behind we enter the rainforests of the Queulat National Park before a 3-hour return trek in to see the amazing Ventisquero Hanging Glacier, a glacier that towers above a rocky cliff and calves into the valley below. We spend the night at Coyhaique located in the shadow of Cerro McKay.
Continuing along the Carretera Austral on a mix of paved and dirt roads we eventually reach the beautiful village of Puerto Río Tranquilo beautifully located on the shores of the majestic Lago General Carrera, South Americas’ second largest lake. We spend the next two nights here allowing us to explore this breathtaking region.
We will take a journey out onto Lago General Carrera to visit the remarkable rock formations and caves known as Capillas de Mármol or Marble Chapels. We can also drive the incredibly scenic Camino Exploradores out to the UNESCO listed Laguna San Rafael National Park or perhaps simply relax in the village for the day.
Our first border crossing today as we cross the Andes into Argentina. The drive is yet another scenic overload that will see us endlessly stopping for photos to take it all in. We are on the eastern, and much drier, side of the Andes now and hit the legendary Ruta 40 as we turn south before reaching the wonderful Telken Estancia, a still working sheep station in Argentinean Patagonia.
The scenery now is utterly different from the “other” side of the Andes; we are now in a vast desertscape of yawning valleys dotted with remote estancias. We drive south on the Ruta 40 before reaching the wonderful, and authentic, Estancia La Angostura, where we will experience a superb Asado, or BBQ, done the traditional Argentine way.
With the Andes to our right we travel south through an otherworldly sparse landscape of Patagonia’s eastern side of the Andes. We reach the village of El Chaltén, spectacularly located under the towering Mt Fitzroy that forms part of the equally spectacular Los Glaciares National Park.
We spend the morning on a cruise visiting the jaw dropping Viedma Glacier. Departing El Chalten we return to Ruta 40 catching views of Lago Viedma and then drive south until we reach Lago Argentino. We spend the next two nights i the provincial town of El Calafate allowing us time to explore this beautiful region.
Today we will visit one of Patagonia’s must see highlights the mighty Moreno Glacier. Standing on a boardwalk overlooking the face of the glacier and witnessing large chunks of ice calving into Lago Argentino is a jaw dropping experience. Described as the world’s most impressive glacier, we will take a boat out onto Lago Argentino to witness up close, as is possibly safe, this UNESCO listed glacial phenomenon.
And it only gets better, today we leave Argentina and cross back into Chile before getting our first glimpses of possibly the most iconic image of Patagonia, the Torres del Paine National Park, the cinematic scenery will leave you in awe, it is virtually indescribable. We spend two nights here allowing a full day to explore the park.
Today will be spent amongst soaring mountains, golden pampas, iceberg littered lakes and the occasional guanaco as we drive the tracks that form part of this epic landscape. Weather permitting, the sunsets over the Torres del Paine are the stuff of dreams and possibly the most scenic day of the entire journey.
Dragging ourselves away from Torres we skirt the shores of Last Hope Sound, via Puerto Natales, and with the Andes in our mirrors we drive east once again. Entering the vast pampas lands we reach the Magellan Straits where we take a ferry, possibly accompanied by Magellan dolphins, to our overnight stay at Cerro Sombrero, a tiny village in the far south of Chile with a population of 680 people.
We cross back into Argentina and drive on to the southernmost city on earth of Ushuaia, the end of the longest road on earth, The Pan American Highway that has its start in Prudhoe Bay, Alaska. Ushuaia is scenically located between the snow-capped Martial Ranges and the Beagle Channel. We spend two nights here allowing us time to further explore the region. This region has a wild remote feel about it and is the stepping off point for Antarctica cruises.
We spend time today driving out and exploring the beautiful Tierra del Fuego National Park and the very end of the Pan American Highway. This is a renowned landscape of jagged mountains, glacially formed valleys and Patagonian Forest. We can also enjoy a Beagle Channel Cruise, named after Darwin’s HMS Beagle, who sailed these waters in 1831.
A bit of backtracking today as we need to take the cars back into Chile. We again cross into Chile and stay at Porvenir where we shall visit the local King Penguin colony.
Our final driving day will see us cross the Magellan Straits again and turn due south to Punta Arenas, a cosmopolitan city in the Chilean far south. After three weeks of remote wilderness adventure Punta Arenas will feel positively huge but located on the Magellan Straits it still retains that “last frontier” feel to it.
It’s a flight back to Santiago today where we can celebrate our time being immersed in some of the most beautiful scenery on earth.
Spend a couple more days in Santiago or depart to your next destination, the choice is yours.