Expedition: Chile’s Carretera Austral

  • Length 17 days
  • From USD$8450
  • Style/Level Expedition 5.0
  • Countries Chile
  • Begin/End Puerto Montt / Coyhaique

The famed “Carretera Austral” is an intrepid bicyclist’s paradise through a full third of Chilean Patagonia. Paved only part of the way, which makes for a nice introduction to gravel riding, this road was started in 1976 during the regime of General Augusto Pinochet. The Carretera Austral – also known as Route 7 – connects some of Chile’s most remote communities located across a wild and mountainous, fjord-laden region whose snow-capped volcanoes, dense forests, stunning lakes, impressive rivers, and glaciated peaks are largely protected within national parks and preserves. This once-in-a-lifetime tour follows a partially-paved Route 7 from Puerto Montt to the southern shores of General Carrera Lake. We’ll pedal a few long stretches of “ripio” (Spanish for gravel) near the tour’s end. Whether you come for the scenic beauty, the remote wildness or the challenging cycling, you’ll never forget this experience.

Please note: Hard tail 29″ mountain bikes with 1.5″ touring tires will be used on the majority of this tour. Wider, 2.1″ knobby tires are available for the last three days of riding when conditions are 100 percent gravel.

Highlights

  • 8 National Parks/National reserves, Lagos Yelcho, Rosselot and Risopatron, Chacabuco, fjords, pristine Patagonian landscape

Includes

  • 17 days, 16 nights accommodation, 16 breakfasts, 14 lunches, 12 dinners. Lunches are packed lunches on the road and picnics. Full van support. Price includes all tips including tour leader gratuities. Ferries on Days 2, 3 and 16. Day 17 shuttle from Coyhaique to the Balmaceda airport. Options on days off to hike, kayak are included. Not Included is the excursion on day 8 to visit San Rafael glaciers on a full day trip from Puerto Chacabuco.

  • All Expedition tour inclusions

Keep in mind

We work hard to maintain consistency across all of our tours, but some trips have unique differences. Here are some things to keep in mind about this tour.

– Expeditions require that you be prepared for anything and a sense of adventure will be your most valuable asset!
– 29″ mountain bikes with 1.5″ touring tires will be used on the majority of this tour. Wider, 2.1″ knobby tires are available for the last three days of riding when conditions are 100 percent gravel.
– Due to poor road conditions there may be a few sections of road you will have to shuttle.
– You will travel to remote areas with very basic accommodations.
– Private Rooms may not be available every night.

Learn more about what is included and what to expect on your Expedition tour here.


Date Price Private room fee Note
Jan 4-20, 2025 TBA TBA Book now and save $200 per person!
DateJan 4-20, 2025
PriceUSD$8450
Private room feeUSD$900
NoteBook now and save $200 per person!

Download Itinerary

We’ll send you a link to a full day by day tour itinerary that can be downloaded and printed so you can review all the details online and offline. This packet also includes details about what to expect on tour and arrival and departure details.
Name(Required)
Email(Required)
Tour date(Required)
Have you traveled with us before?(Required)
Hidden
Hidden
Hidden
Opt-in to weekly news, recipes, and tour updates
Privacy(Required)

  • Total distance 1030 km (640 miles), including 106 km (57 nautical miles) of boat travel
  • Average daily distance Average 93 km / 57 miles
  • Tour style Expedition
  • Tour level 5.0

Highlights: Puerto Varas, Llanquihue Lake

We meet in Puerto Varas today, a small but bustling town on the shores of Lake Llanquihue in Chile. Just 35 minutes from the airport in Puerto Montt and with its craft market and lakeside views of Osorno Volcano, this is the perfect place to come stay a night before your trip starts. We’ll meet in the afternoon to fit bikes and take a quick test ride along the lake.

Meals : Dinner
Lodging : Hotel Cumbres Puerto Varas

Highlights: Beginning of Carretera Austral, Alerce Andino National Park, Hornopiren National Park & Reloncaví estuary.

Today we shuttle from Puerto Varas to Caleta Puelche, just after the ferry on the shores of the Reloncavi estuary. Our ride follows the rim of the coast until Hualaihue, where we pedal inland on rolling, forested hills until Hornopiren, our destination for the evening.  

Meals : Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner
Lodging : Cabañas Cordillera

Highlights: Douglas Tompkins Pumalin National Park, crossing Comau-Leptepu Fjord, Michimahuida volcano

This morning we’ll span the length of the Fiordo Comau-Leptepu on a 4-hour ferry ride with views east to the mountains of Pumalin National Park and part of Vodudahue National Reserve. Once in Leptepu, we transfer over 10 km of gravel road to Fiordo Largo for our second ferry crossing (45-minutes later) to Caleta Gonzalo, where we finally begin pedaling our way to Chaiten within sight of the Michinmahuida Volcano. Today’s ride 35 km gravel, 22 km pavement.

Meals : Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner
Lodging : Hotel Mi Casa

Highlights: Yelcho lake, Corcovado National Park

Today we pedal a beautiful glacier valley along the Carretera Austral until arriving at the shores of Lago Yelcho, renowned for world-class fly fishing. We’ll rub elbows with anglers tonight at one of the area’s many lodges.

Meals : Breakfast, Lunch
Lodging : Yelcho en la Patagonia

Highlights: Melimoyu National Park, Lago Rosselot, National Reserve Palena River

Just outside Yelcho we’ll pass the Yelcho hanging glacier. The rest of the day we’re surrounded by stunning views as we pedal by Corcovado National Park and then into Melimoyu National Park and Palena River. Our destination tonight is the small town of La Junta. This evening we’ll visit the Tepaluma Distillery.

Meals : Breakfast, Lunch
Lodging : Hotel Espacio y Tiempo

Highlights: Risopatrón Lake

Our ride today is short and we end at the edge of Queulat National Park. This afternoon you can choose to take a hike or take it easy in our beautiful lodge nestled in the forest. Take a dip in the hot tub or swimming pool or warm up in the sauna. Or curl up with a book as you rest your legs before tomorrow’s big ride.

Meals : Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner
Lodging : El Pangue Lodge

Highlights: Queulat National Park

Due to sparse lodging, we start the day with a long shuttle (66 km) before embarking on the longest ride of this tour. This day is a dynamic ride through Queulat National Park, with incredible views of the park’s namesake hanging glacier. We’ll pedal through a broad fluvial valley before veering off the Carretera Austral to follow the pristine Cisnes River until our destination for the next two nights in Puerto Chacabuco. If you want to do a full 100 miles this is your day!

Meals : Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner
Lodging : Hotel Loberias del Sur

Highlights: Laguna San Rafael Glacier

Puerto Chacabuco is the region’s most important seaport with connection to Puerto Montt and gateway to the Laguna San Rafael Glacier, a major outlet glacier of the Northern Patagonian Ice Field. You’ll have the option to experience a full day’s excursion of the glacier or relax on the hotel grounds for a quiet day of reading. Cost for this excursion is extra and we’ll send details closer to the trip date.

Meals : Breakfast
Lodging : Hotel Loberias del Sur

Highlights: Río Simpson National Reserve, “Al Virgen” and “Velo de la novia” waterfalls

Our ride leads us to the major city of Coyhaique, the capital of Chile’s Aysen district. Growing interest in the cattle industry helped populate Coyhaique from 1930s on. Today, Coyhaique is a bustling town and is surrounded by the Rio Simpson and Coyhaique National Reserve, as well as stunning water falls and rivers, known for its fly fishing.

Meals : Breakfast, Lunch
Lodging : Hotel Nomades , Hotel Madero Aysén

Highlights: Reserva Los Huemules

The landscape changes considerably today as we leave behind rolling hills dotted with cattle and enter a Ñirre lenga, or forest. At 50 feet in height, Ñirre (Genus Nothofagus) are deciduous trees common to the Pilmaquén pampa, between 2,300 and 2,600 feet in elevation. Keep your eye out today for endemic Huemul deer as we ride through Cerro Castillo National Park.

Meals : Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner
Lodging : Refugio Cerro Castillo , Cabañas Ruta 7

Highlights: First views of Lago General Carrera

If you wanted a big day, today is your day. We leave the pavement behind and you can ride over a metric century today as we head south to General Carrera Lake, the biggest Lake in Chile and second biggest in South America. Our destination is Puerto Rio Tranquilo, founded in 1955 and colonized by ranching and farming families. Pavement: 105 gravel, 14 paved

Meals : Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner
Lodging : Hotel El Puesto , Cabañas La Rinconada

Highlights: Catedrales de Marmól, Glacier Exploration

A much deserved rest day is in store today. If you want, we’ve arranged for a boat ride (and possibly a kayak trip if you prefer) to explore the beautiful marble caves just off the coast of Lago General Carrera. These caves are over 6000 years old and are formed by the water eroding the edge of the lake. Light plays off of the water and the walls as you drift through the stunning marble columns in the aptly named “cathedral” of the lake. A sight not to be missed and a great way to spend the day off the bike.

Meals : Breakfast
Lodging : Hotel El Puesto , Cabañas La Rinconada

Highlights: General Carrera Lake

Your ride today follows the shores of General Carrera Lake (known in Argentina as Lago Buenos Aires) that actually has a border through it. In the indigenous language it is called Lago Chelenko. The glacial waters contribute to the beautiful color of the water, and although the surrounding mountains are often wet, the lake has a temperate and sunny microclimate that made it attractive to the European and criollo immigrants in the early 1900s. You’ll have the afternoon to relax, hike, or horseback from the lodge. Today’s ride is all on gravel.

Meals : Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner
Lodging : Mallin Colorado

Highlights: General Carrera Lake

We leave the Carretera Austral behind today and head east, contouring the southern shore of General Carrera on a gravel road that winds around headlands and through occasional forest. Every corner offers a new view of the 1,800-square kilometer lake whose deepest point is lower than sea level. We’ll stay the night at a peaceful lakeside lodge. Today’s ride is all gravel.

Meals : Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner
Lodging : Patagonia Acres

Highlights: General Carrera Lake

Our final day of riding encapsulates the natural beauty and diversity of Chile’s Aysen region. Enjoy sweeping views of snow-capped peaks surrounding General Carrera Lake for the first 50 kilometers of gravel riding. Then, the Patagonian Steppe emerges as Ruta 265 departs from the lake shore and leads us toward the small but important border town of Chile Chico. Today’s ride is all on gravel.

Meals : Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner
Lodging : Costanera Apart Hotel Chile Chico

Highlights: Ferry Trip across General Carrera Lake

Just six miles west of the Argentine border, Chile Chico has the only car ferry across General Carrera Lake and we’ll take it this morning to the small town of Puerto Ingeniero Ibáñez. From here we’ll soon rejoin the Carretera Austral as we head north back to Coyhaique. Enjoy the views from off the bike as we head back the way we came. Tonight we’ll celebrate the end of an unforgettable journey.

Meals : Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner
Lodging : Hotel Nomades , Hotel Madero Aysén

Highlights: Farewell to the 2024 Carretera Austral Expedition

After breakfast in Coyhaique, we’ll shuttle to the Balmeceda airport where we’ll finally say ‘adios.’ Whether you’re connecting to Santiago for flights back home, exploring more of Patagonia, or venturing elsewhere in South America, may this Expedition rank as your top experience of 2024.

Meals : Breakfast

Visit our Tour Level page to learn more about terrain levels and how we determine day and tour levels.


  • Mountain (Chile and Argentina)


Pre-trip planning checklist



  • Beautiful and tranquil location, amazing scenery, itinerary was great – including timing of rest days, activities on rest days, accommodations, food, cultural components. The times when I was completely alone in the beautiful places with only sounds and smells of nature (and knowing that someone was not too far away, ready to take care of all of my needs).

    Roseanna N., Lafayette, CO – January 2023
  • Tour was superb. The team was outstanding and the route perfect, even the weather obliged. A chance to see a nearly untouched magical part of the world by the best means possible with the best people.

    Andrew D., London, UK – January 2023