At GoChile we tell you everything you need to know to travel the most scenic highway in the world. Everything from where it begins to where it ends, to where there are ATMs along the way

The Carretera Austral, also known as the Most Scenic Highway in the World is a highway in the south of Chile that passes through tremendous forests and natural areas that are untouched by humans. Its 1.247 kilometers run from Puerto Montt, in the lakes region, until the remote town of Villa O’Higgins in the Aysén region. Formally known as Route 7, this magnificent highway passes through lush green forests, Andean Patagonia forests, steppes, and swamps, through pristine rivers, turquoise lakes, and enormous millennial glaciers. 

As an extreme area, it consists of mainly dirt roads, something that attracts followers of ecotourism, and in many cases are traveled in 4x4 or mountain bikes. Only 12% of the route is a paved road, according to information from Sernatur. It is common to find roadwork and maintenance on the route to reduce the effects of the harsh winters of the area. 

The Carretera Austral is divided into two parts, North and South. Below, we will explain each leg of the highway and what you can see in each part so you can make informed decisions to plan your trip. 

Choose your route

I. Northern Carretera Austral

The Northern Carretera Austral runs from Puerto Montt to Coyhaique. On the route you can enjoy the evergreen forests and make stops in national parks such as Queulat, Futaleufú National Reserve, Hornopirén National Park, Pumalín Park, and Rosselot Lake National Reserve. In this area you can also relax in natural hot springs and experience the beauty of the fjords and southern canals. 

1. Puerto Montt - Chaitén 

2. Chaitén - La Junta

     2.A. La Junta - Raúl Marín Balmaceda

     2.B. La Junta - Lago Verde

     2.C. Melinka

3. La Junta - Puyuhuapi - Puerto Cisnes

4. Puerto Cisnes - Coyhaique

II. Southern Carretera Austral 

In the Southern Carretera Austral rivers merge with lakes and lush landscapes full of extensive grasslands and glaciers of the Northern and Southern ice fields. In this part of the route you can visit the majestic Cerro Castillo Park, the beautiful General Carrera Lake with its hypnotizing turquoise color; the beautiful town Caleta Tortel and its various canals and patagonian fjords will make you feel like you are on a completely uninhabited planet. 

     5.A. Coyhaique - Balmaceda

     5.B.Coyhaique - Puerto Aysén - Puerto Chacabuco

     6. Coyhaique - Villa Cerro Castillo - Puerto Tranquilo 

     7. Coyhaique - Puerto Ibáñez - Chile Chico 

    8. Route Cuenca General Carrera Lake

    9. Puerto tranquilo - Cochrane 

    10. Chochrane - Tortel - Villa O’Higgins

    11. Patagonian Canals and Fjords

The best places on the Southern Highway 

  • Futaleufú
  • Puyuhuapi
  • Laguna San Rafael National Park  
  • Queulat National Park 
  • Cerro Castillo National Park 
  • Caleta Tortel
  • Pumalín Park 
  • General Carrera Lake y Marble Chapels 
  • Explorer’s Glacier 
  • Baker River 

 For more details click here:

How to travel the Carretera Austral 

  • Vehicle: It is recommended to use a 4x4 vehicle to travel the Carretera Austral all year round.
  • Bicycle or motorcycle: On two wheels is an unforgettable way to travel the Carretera Austral, although you must remember that this requires being in good physical condition, especially when choosing to travel on bicycle. 
  • Rent-a-car: You can rent cars in Coyhaique or at the Balmaceda airport, although make sure to reserve with anticipation. 
  • Public Transportation: There are bus lines that have regular service from Coyhaique to the majority of towns. 

Advice for traveling the Carretera Austral by car 

Even more than recommending a 4x4 automobile, we recommend to always have a canister of gasoline in the event that there are no gas stations due to the large distances between cities. It is also recommended to drive cautiously, due to the fact that the road can be very windy in various parts and combined with the dirt could cause the vehicle to slide or turn over. It is preferable to travel in a covered vehicle due to the strong rain that could occur at any time of year. 

Regional Bus Terminals 

  • Terminal Buses Suray, Coyhaique 

  • Terminal Buses Don Carlos, Coyhaique 

  • Terminal Buses Ali, Coyhaique 

  • Terminal Buses Municipal, Coyhaique

  • Terminal Buses Becker, Coyhaique

  • Terminal de Buses Cochrane

  • Terminal de Buses Chile Chico

What basic services are there on the Carretera Austral?

Gas stations

  • Puerto Montt

  • Hornopirén

  • Futaleufú

  • Alto Palena

  • La Junta

  • Puyuhuapi

  • Puerto Cisnes

  • Mañihuales

  • Puerto Aysén

  • Coyhaique

  • Chile Chico

  • Puerto Tranquilo 

  • Puerto Guadal

  • Cochrane

  • Villa O’Higgins


  • Puerto Montt

  • Hornopirén

  • Futaleufú

  • Puerto Cisnes

  • Puerto Aysén 

  • Chile Chico 

  • Cochrane


  • Puerto Montt

  • Puerto Cisnes

  • Mañihuales

  • Puerto Aysén

  • Coyhaique

  • Chile Chico

  • Cochrane

General Recommendations to travel Carretera Austral

Reserve: reserve your lodging or campsite ahead of time. Choose services registered with Sernatur. 

Anticipate: rent your vehicle or reserve bus tickets with anticipation 

Inform: Inform yourself about the conditions of the road at or at the Sernatur social media. 

Revise: the schedules of the free barges, available by the State. 

Equipment: How to pack your bag for the carretera austral 

Equipment:  how to make the backpack for the Carretera Austral road?

  •     Sunglasses with UV filter
  •     Base layer
  •     Second layer
  •     Third layer (windbreaker)
  •     Sneakers or hiking boots
  •     Hat
  •     Gloves
  •     Hiking poles
  •     Legwarmers 
  •     First aid kit 
  •     Flashlight
  •     Camp stove
  •     Lighter
  •     Gallon of water
  •     Tent with rainproof cover
  •     Sleeping bag for -5C (in summer) 
  •     Food for 5 days

What to do to not contaminate the Carretera Austral 

  • It is strictly prohibited the use of fire in the Protected Wild Areas

  • Avoid the use of commercial soaps. Wash your dishes at home and use an all natural soap or only wash with water. 

  • Do not touch nests, dens or lairs. Respect the habitat of the wildlife and observe them from a distance. 

  • Do not intervene in the rock art. Do not destroy the cultural heritage. 

  • It is not permitted to fish without a valid Chilean fishing license. Sportfishing is only permitted in National Reserves. 

  • Collect your trash and bring it back with you to the city. There is no reason to leave it on the trail or in nature. 

  • Pets are prohibited in National Parks 

  • Do not bathe in rivers or lakes within the National Parks. It is also not allowed to use motorized vehicles. 

  • Vehicles are only authorized entrance through the administration of the parks and reserves. 

  • Avoid playing loud music, respect the ecosystem that you are visiting and fellow travelers. 

  • Respect the instructions of the park guards, they have the authority within the Reserve or Park. 

  • People in a state of intoxication must leave the reserve or park.

  • Respect the signage, transit only in designated zones. 

General recommendations

  • Reservation: book your accommodation or camping site in advance. Prefer services registered in Sernatur

  • Anticipate: rent your vehicle in advance or reserve bus tickets in advance.

  • Find out: about the state of the roads in or in the social networks of SERNATUR.

  • Check: the schedules of the free barges arranged by the State.

Live the experience