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Chile's iconic southern highway

The famous Carretera Austral is Chile’s iconic southern highway that has opened up Chilean Patagonia’s land of hanging glaciers, towering mountains and mist-shrouded temperate rainforest. Have a look at our suggested self-drive itinerary for this famous route: Driving the Carretera Austral

Northern Carretera Austral image

Northern Carretera Austral

The first section of Chile's southern highway, the Carretera Austral, reaches its first ferry crossing an hour south of Puerto Montt at La Arena. From here, a road heads south, through verdant forest and past hot springs, to Hornopirén, a small fishing village at the northern end of a long Pacific fjord.

Southern Carretera Austral image

Southern Carretera Austral

South of Balmaceda the Carretera Austral defines the word remote: through the imposing mountains of Cerro Castillo, the gravel highway skirts the Ibañez river through a spectacular array of landscapes from rugged steppe, narrow gorges and the desolation caused by the eruption of the Hudson volcano in 1991 and opens out as it reaches the picturesque scenery bordering Lake General Carrera.

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