Traveling the Carretera Austral

Carretera Austral Chile
photo credit to - thejourney1972 via Flickr Creative Commons

The Great American Road Trip* is in full swing but as I start thinking about heading back to South America in the fall I’m beginning to plan out all the must-see stuff I want to see and do as part of my next mission. While I love the comfort of the United States and the opportunity to see new cities and landscapes… I do miss South America.

I’m thinking about road trips in South America and this sponsored post about the Carretera Austral, Route 7 Highway in Chile really gets my juices flowing about upcoming adventures south of the ecuador!

Taking you through untouched rainforests, blue-tinted hanging glaciers, gushing waterfalls, and scenery too beautiful to imagine; the Carretera Austral – or Route 7 as it’s sometimes known – is a road traveling 770miles (1240km) from one side of Chile to the other.

If you’ve always dreamed of exploring a rural and natural habitat, then this route is for you. Beginning in Puerto Montt, the Carretera Austral takes you on a whirlwind adventure before you eventually arrive in Villa O’Higgens.

Construction on the route began in 1976, and took 20 years to complete. Despite years of work, the route is still 80% unpaved, and must be embarked upon carefully. For adventure tourists, this route is ideal. With rivers and lakes full of salmon and trout, it’s a fisher’s dream. As well as this, there are plenty of places to enjoy kayaking, rafting, and trekking.

The first section of the route will take you from Puerto Montt to Chaiten, where you’ll experience a journey through lush and untouched ancient forests, and enter a world of natural beauty. You’ll also come across ferries which will shuttle you and your car across the deep fjords.

As the road is very narrow, it’s advisable if you’re driving to take things slowly, and watch out for any vehicles which might be coming the other way. Always take an empty gas can with you, as there are seemingly endless stretches of road where there are no services. However, make sure the gas can is empty coming into the country, as Chile won’t allow gasoline to travel across the border.

Areas of the route pass islands full of red deer, and national parks which make ideal stopping points for a rest and a spot of sight-seeing. Many people choose to experience the route on a bicycle, and whilst this is a wonderful way to travel the wonderful sights; the weather can be pretty intense at times with heavy downpours of rain. However, there are various camping spots where cyclists can take a break and shelter from the rain.

If cycling, it would be sensible to get some specific worldwide travel insurance, which covers sports like this, as many don’t insure injuries obtained whilst cycling. This is often not too much more expensive then general travel insurance, and sites such as can really help you keep your costs down.

Guaranteed to be a truly memorable experience, the journey is best completed in two to three weeks, so you can fully enjoy its surroundings and absorb the incredible scenery around you. If you’ve ever yearned for a break from the bustling, fast-paced city life to a remote, secluded, and truly stunning destination; then the Carretera Austral route is waiting just for you.

My name is Gareth Leonard, a Marketing Director turned World Traveler with a passion for slow, meaningful travel. I have been traveling the world full-time for the past 9+ years and document it all on Instagram and YouTube. Come join me!


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