Patagonian Fjords & Pumalin Park self-drive

Few places conjure up the images of soaring glacial topped peaks covered in dense temperate rainforest rising from the depths of the ocean as do the Patagonian fjords. It is an area sparsely populated that boasts of 4,000 year-old trees (the Alerce, the world’s second longest living tree species), 6.5 meters (20 feet) of annual (yes, annual!) rainfall, and steep walled fjords that rise over 1,500 meters (4,800 ft) straight from the cold blue Pacific waters.

This region was partially opened by the construction of the “Southern Highway” (Carretera Austral) which began in the late 1970’s (and still continuing on), and then came into fame by the creation of Pumalin Park by US conservationist Douglas Tompkins. It is now operated by a foundation and is a Chilean Natural Monument. The opening of the regular ferry service year round in 2011 now allows people to enjoy the stunning beauty as a self-drive option.

Book Your Self-Drive Fjord Adventure Now

5 days/4 nights of pure adventure in Southern Chile:


Day 1
Arrive Puerto Montt (1.5 hr from Santiago) and pickup rental for 3-hour drive (including ferry) across the northernmost fjord along the Carretera Austral to the village of Hornopiren- nestled under a wooded volcano of the same name. Overnight at a local hotel.
Day 2
Today you will take two small ferries through the majestic fjords of Pumalin Park. Soaring glacier topped peaks, crystal clear waters and abundant nature are everywhere. You’ll drive 10 kms between two fjords (and their respective ferries) and arrive in the evening to the Caleta Gonzalo cabins and café.
Day 3
Take your pick of incredible short hikes into the rainforest including the Alerce Trail (walking among 4000 year old trees!). There are trails for all levels though most are quite vertical (though superbly built with ladders and bridges to minimize impact. Evening arrival to the village of Chaiten- partially destroyed by the 2006 volcano but home to brave and determined locals.
Day 4
Visit the El Amarillo section of Pumalin Park (the southern side) which has access to the huge ice fields of the Michimahuida Volcano (2400 meters). There are hikes or nearby El Amarillo hot spring just outside the park. Same lodging in Chaiten for the evening.
Day 5

Return drive covering the 60 kms of the Carretera Austral to the double ferry journey through the fjords followed by the 3 hour return to Puerto Montt.

Note: a 5th night's lodging in Hornopiren is possible for those not wanting such a long journey on Day 5.