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Home / Newsletter / The Aysén Region and the famous Carretera Austral

The Aysén Region and the famous Carretera Austral

Through rainforests and coastal plains, across rivers and around lakes, through rock and along fjords and beaches, the 20-year construction of the Carretera Austral reached completion in 2000 at a cost of USD $300 Million. Starting in Puerto Montt, capital of Los Lagos Region, the Carretera Austral winds its way southward 1200 km to Villa O’Higgins, providing vehicle access to previously unreachable areas. Visiting this region is like a journey back in time, with horses and oxcarts still a common mode of transportation. Only about 100,000 people live along the route, with half of these in the provincial capital of Coyhaique. This is an adventurous road, with plenty to discover, including some of the most important national parks and reservations in Chile. One highlight is the Laguna San Rafael, which is part of a UNESCO World Biosphere Reserve; another is the village of Caleta Tortel, connected to the Carretera via a new spur completed ten years ago. You’ll find no roads inside the village, only boardwalks and wooden stairs winding between the houses nestled between the forest and the shore of an inland fjord.
The region around the Carretera Austral is perfect for nature lovers – and ideal for rent-a-car customers. However, the route should be planned well, since on some sections there are no gas stations and only a few small accommodations. Although the government has recently upgraded much of the Carretera Austral, long stretches remain gravel-surfaced, and the northernmost part is interrupted by three straits that must be crossed by ferry. But there’s plenty of flexibility: for those without the time or inclination to drive the whole route, a tour can be started in Chaitén, Chacabuco or Coyhaique.

The northern half of the Carretera Austral is often rainy, but in the south the weather actually tends to be sunnier and a bit more stable. However, since it is very cold during the winter and the temperatures drop well below zero, the best time to travel is during the Chilean summer.

For more information about the Carretera Austral, please contact your travelArt sales representative.

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