Explore the marvels of Carretera Austral in a six days journey through northern Patagonia. A unique scenic route with picture-perfect vistas of forests, rivers, waterfalls and glaciers, magnificent mountains like Cerro Castillo, and the largest Chilean lake: General Carrera, where water has sculpted marble caverns on its unique islands.

Carretera Austral (Southern Highway, Route 7) is considered one of the most beautiful roads in the world. The highway was built in order to connect remote communities, and opened to traffic in 1988, though most of its extension is gravel road and has a difficult access by land. We’ll explore the section that passes a few miles east from the Northern Patagonian Ice Field –part of the largest ice sheet outside of the poles and the nearest one to the equator–, thus the weather in this area is generally cold and humid. Nonetheless General Carrera lake has a sunny microclimate, a weather pattern enjoyed by the few settlements along the lake, such as Puerto Sánchez at the north shore, the village in which we will spend four nights.

Puerto Sánchez was first colonized by a few Chilean families who came from Argentina in the beginning of the 20th century. In the 60s the village had grown thanks to the mining industry, but cooper extraction ceased in the late 80s, leaving just forgotten mines that reminisce that era. Despite the decline of mining and isolation, some settler families continued living there. Currently there are 17 families working mainly on livestock and crops like alfalfa.

We invite you to join us on this magical journey through Patagonia and discover the wonders of the southern wilderness. We are a young professional team striving to deliver a personalized and excellent service, ensuring our passengers an unforgettable experience.

From Balmaceda airport we will take the Carretera Austral and head south to Cerro Castillo, a majestic jagged mountain which name means castle. At the base of the mountain we’ll find an archaeological site with handprints of the Tehuelche culture, who inhabited these green lands more than 7,000 years ago. The trip continues south passing through rivers and a beautiful green lagoon, until we reach General Carrera Lake and round the shore west to Puerto Sánchez. The rest of the team will receive us in the hostelry with the chimney fire going and fresh foods.

The hostelry has a beautiful open view of the lake and the Panichine island, which we’ll explore during the morning by kayaking between its rarely visited marble caverns. We’ll round the island and park on a bay to enjoy a delicious picnic. After lunch we’ll make a soft hike to admire the charms of the sector and the beauty of the surrounding landscape. We’ll return to Puerto Sanchez by boat.

For the next day we’ll mount Chilean horses and ride uphill to the old mine along a path with panoramic views of the lake and the Andes mountains. On the return back we will take a path through a forest of Coigüe that will lead us to La Playa sector by the lakeshore. Here we will have the opportunity to enjoy a delicious lunch and relax in this exclusive sector. In the afternoon we will get ready to try luck on fishing. For this activity we will ge in the boat to scroll through certain corners of the lake propitious for fishing for brown and rainbow trout.

An expedition to the Northern Patagonian Ice Field is a must, therefore we’ll spend a full day to witness first row one of the glacial tongues that hang from the ice field. We’ll begin on boat to Puerto tranquilo, then we’ll take the road along the river through an evergreen valley. We will stop in the middle of the Andes and do a short hike to observe the amazing Exploradores Glacier and mount San Valentín, the highest of the Chilean Patagonia. On our way back we’ll stop to have lunch at the Germans’ house. Back in Puerto Sánchez will have some spare time before we enjoy a Chilean lamb barbecue with fresh salads and wine.

During the last morning in Puerto Sánchez we’ll have some spare time, with the option to cook traditional handmade bread. Then we’ll get back on the road to Cerro Castillo Village from where we will beginning the horse riding through Cerro Castillo National Reserve. This protected area is one of the most emblematic icons of the Aysén region due to its impressive rock peaks, glaciers, lagoons, forests and overhanging panoramic views. This excursion consists of 6 hours (back and forth) in which you combine horse riding and hike to reach the breathtaking panoramic view of Mount Cerro Castillo with its hanging glaciers and its homonymous lagoon of turquoise color that lay down at it feet.

After this adventure we will continue north direction by the Southern Highway again to get -after two hours- to Coyhaique city. Here we will go around by the it  streets that include a visit to the craft market in the main square where you can find ceramics and wool articles. Dinner and accommodation to coordinate.

On the last day we prepare our luggage and then head to Balmaceda airport, located 58,5km (36m) from the city.

End of the services.

Day 1: Carretera Austral road trip
  • Pick up at Balmaceda airport
  • Road trip by the southern highway to Cerro Castillo
  • Short hike in the archaeological site, lunch
  • Back in the road heading south
  • Reception in Puerto Sánchez
  • Spare time and dinner
Day 2: Marble caverns kayaking and hiking in Panichine island
  • Breakfast
  • Kayak by Marble Caverns of
  • Pic-nic in Panichine Island
  • Hike by the island
  • Visit the museum of Puerto Sánchez
  • Dinner
Day 3: Horseback riding and fishing
  • Breakfast
  • Horseback riding to old mines
  • Lunch in La Playa sector
  • Fishing on General Carrera lake
  • Dinner
Day 4: Trip to Exploradores glacier
  • Breakfast
  • Transfer By boat to Puerto Tranquilo
  • Car ride through Exploradores valley
  • Trekking to Exploradores glacier
  • Local lunch in the germans’ house
  • Arrival To Puerto Sánchez
  • Free time. Lamb barbecue.
Day 5: Horseback riding and hiking on Cerro Castillo N. R. and join Coyaique city
  • Breakfast
  • Car ride to Cerro Castillo National Reserve
  • Horse riding and hikking
  • Arrival to Coyaique
Day 6: Balmaceda airport
  • Breakfast
  • Back to Balmaceda airport
  • End of service

We’ll stay at the town’s hostelry that has 7 double bedrooms with private baths, a big dinner table and fireplace in the living room, a spacious kitchen with a firewood oven, a lovely patio and a quincho; a small house for meetings and barbecues. Our chef from Santiago with a local cook will prepare a healthy and tasty Chilean and international cuisine with fresh products from Patagonia and the Central Zone of Chile.

May 25, 2016 / View more photos

Summary

  • Activity: Adventure Holidays
  • Highlights: 
    • Kayaking marble caverns of Panichine Island
    • Horseback riding to old mine
    • Exploradores glacier day trip
  • Tour length: 6 days 5 nights
  • Location: Puerto Sánchez, Aysén
  • Zone: Northern Patagonia
  • Start / End: Balmaceda Airport
  • Flight Santiago-Balmaceda: 2:30 hrs
  • Season: Oct / Nov / Dec / Mar / Apr / May

Included

  • Hostelry
  • Transportation by land and water
  • Two bilingual guides
  • Bilingual chef
  • Snacks and water for each activity
  • All mentioned meals (breakfasts, lunches, dinners and barbecue).
  • Phone signal most of the route
  • First aid kit
  • Laundry
  • Park entrance fees
  • Horseback, kayaking, boat and fishing equipment
  • Hiking poles
  • Waterproof coat

Not included

  • Air flights
  • Accident insurance
  • Personal clothes

Recommendations

  • Hiking boots
  • Hiking shoes
  • Small to medium backpack
  • Insulated and waterproof jackets
  • Fleece and softshell hoody
  • Breathable long sleeve shirts
  • Thermal long sleeve shirt
  • Light breathable pants
  • Warm pants and leggings
  • Sunglasses
  • Sun and cold hats
  • Sunblock
  • Gloves
  • Thick and regular socks

Share it with your group

 Summer 2012

 Exploradores glacier panoramic collage, May 24th 2016