The Carretera Austral or CH-7. It is 1240 km long and runs from Puerto Montt in the north to Villa O’Higgins in the south. Constructions of the road started in the 1970s and is still going on. Sadly more and more parts be asphalted, which is taking the whole charm away. With that said the road condition are from smooth to really bumpy, but never technical challenging to drive. To drive on the Carretera Austral requires a 4×4 wheel drive.
That part of the road is mostly through thick forests and along the Futaleufú River. Small parking spaces at several waterfalls can be found, as well as several Miradors along the road. The road is mostly asphalted in and around towns and cities, the rest is graveled road. We rarely saw any other car on our drive.
Towards the Puyuhuapi fjord, the scenery got more stunning with the view on the mountains and the Ventisquero Sound.
During the drive from Puyuhuapi to Coyhaique the surrounding is changing. The forest made space for wide landscape with long mountain ranges. Shortly before we entered Coyhaique we met this 4 Gauchos with theirs dogs. Gauchos are a national symbol in Argentina and Uruguay, but also present in Chile. Seeing them on the street made the scenery more authentic.
Our next part on the Carretera Austral was the drive to the Lago General Carrera over Villa Cerro Castillo. The expanded area around the Cerro Castillo is asphalted road, as the road went over a pass. With having winter and a snow surrounding in mind – as we had it – this was a pleasing. We saw a lot of trucks and non 4×4 wheel drive that really struggled with the snowy road conditions.
The road get graveled again soon after leaving Villa Cerro Castillo. Everything around Puerto Río Tranquilo and the Lago General Carrera is graveled road. The closer the road get to the Lake the more mountains can be spotted, which makes the drive super enjoyable.
All in all the drive on the Carretera Austral is one of the most scenic I ever saw in my life. Mostly there are no other cars, everything is super remote and it is like being the only person on earth. On the off-road part the road was not that challenging as I would hope it would be, which took a bit the adventure part away. But the surrounding made up for that.
Roads that were more challenging driving where: