Carretera Austral, also known as Chile's Route 7, is one of the most breathtaking and adventurous road trips you can take in South America. Stretching approximately 1,240 kilometres (770 miles) through Chilean Patagonia, it winds its way through some of the Earth’s most remote and stunning landscapes.
Constructed in the 1970s under the regime of Augusto Pinochet, Carretera Austral was initially intended to connect remote communities and open this rugged region for economic development. The road begins in Puerto Montt in the north and extends down to Villa O'Higgins in the south, passing through dense forests, towering mountains, glacial rivers, and pristine fjords. The route is ideal for adventure enthusiasts, especially those who’d love to go rafting along the Futaleufú River, fishing in the Palena River or who’d like to soak away troubles in the hot springs of Puyuhuapi.
One of the highlights of the Carretera Austral is the opportunity to witness the majestic glaciers of the Southern Patagonian Ice Field, the third-largest ice mass in the world, except for Antarctica and Greenland. Travellers can also marvel at the turquoise waters of General Carrera Lake, the second-largest lake in South America, and explore the quaint villages and indigenous communities scattered along the route, each with its own unique charm and culture.