"Carretera Austral" Top 5 Page for this destination Chile Things to Do Tip by elsadran
Chile Things to Do: 351 reviews and 652 photos
Carretera Austral is a highway of 1240 klms that links Puerto Montt with Villa O'Higgings. It started in 1976 during the dictatorship of Pinochet and finished in 2000. Because of the heterogeneous geography with glaciers and fjords blocking the way, it proved to be a difficult task. Many of the soldiers and workers used lost their lives and an enormous sum of money was spent. There is a museum in Chaiten with dioramas and information on the whole construction.
It's the only road connection with the sparsely populated South.
The scenery is so diverse that your eyes get surprised at every turn of the road. The green straights contrast with the wonderful tones of blue of the rivers and the lakes. The winding dirt road at points climbs so high that the ice caps of the mountains come to the same level. You can now see clearly the sparkling crystals of the frozen snow resisting to melt even in the hot sun. The clear deep blue sky completes the painting...
The remote highway is difficult to travel because there aren't many options for accommodation, let alone banking or more extreme facilities. Hitch hiking is also difficult as there are few vehicles passing by and takes a lot of time and walking. However if you have time it's worthy to plan a trip with several stops as there are wonderful camping sites and other places of interest as Quelat National Park, Quelat hanging glacier and the Cold Jungle (a temperate rain forest). On the borders of the turquoise Lake General Carrera there are a few settlements with less humid climate than the rest of the region. If you decide on camping mind the humidity and low temperatures of the night...
Cerro Castillo is a national reserve with glaciers and forests and River Baker a voluminous river with amazing tourquoise water. Fishing rafting, biking, and nice walks are possible.
It took me 12 hours of bus riding to go from Chaiten to Coyhaique with only one stop for lunch.
But I must tell you that not for a single moment was I bored or tired with the long and strenuous bus ride on the rough road as the scenic countryside was captivating. The driver had classical music on all the way
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