Fjords, villages, and towns surrounded by wilderness are some of the impressions that the Patagonia, and its large environment that starts in Puerto Montt, leaves you.
Forests, fjords, crystalline waters, and pure air form the road that connects Puerto Montt and Chaiten. A journey that done by ship and land vehicles, can last half a day, but will leave you with images you will remember forever.
For tourists that want to visit the Carretera Austral from beginning to end, they must know that everything starts at the Main Square of Puerto Montt. Here is the first kilometer of a 1,240-kilometer road that enchants travelers of all ages and places of the world, as it gives them feelings of profound nature.
One of the best ways to make the most of this route is taking the Bimodal Road. The journey lasts a little over 10 hours and includes passing through unique places, like those you see as you go by fjords and evergreen forests and landforms that look like works of art; all of this to get to the heart of the Carretera Austral. Here you will be forced to disconnect yourself –you will not have cell phone service much of the way- and enjoy a quiet trip.
Half the trip to Chaiten is sailing, being an excellent opportunity to enjoy the scenery and relax.
Bimodal Road can be done on the buses that travel through the region of Los Lagos (the price of the ticket varies depending on the place of origin and destination) or by car. If you decide to go by car, make sure to plan your itinerary ahead of time, making reservations and scheduling the barges.
Departure from Puerto Montt
1. The first part goes from Puerto Montt to Caleta La Arena. It is a 45-minute trip, where you will see the Reloncavi Inlet on one side, and rural villages, such as Lenca and Chaica, on the other. Here, you will have to make the first transfer where you will cross the Estuary of Reloncavi until you get to Caleta Puelche (30-minute voyage by sea). On this trip, you can go outside of the rail of the ship to enjoy the ocean breeze and watch the quiet scenery.
2. Already in Caleta Puelche, a journey overland will begin until Hornopiren, a small town 100 kilometers from Puerto Montt, where you can stop and rest, to continue your trip the next day, or continue to your next destination: Leptepu. On the road, you will pass by tourist attractions, such as, Hualaihue and its coastal route. You can also rest at the Pichicolo Hot Springs (10 kilometers from Hornopiren) that stand out because they find themselves right in the middle of native forests.
3. At the Hornopiren Wharf begins a sea journey of three or four hours until Leptepu. On the way, you will pass the Comau Fjord (or Leptepu), by crystal clear waters by green hills
4. Upon reaching onto land, you will have to travel through a narrow gravel road for 10 kilometers until Largo Fjord, to cross the Riñihue afterwards and arrive to Caleta Gonzalo.
5. It is a 45-minute trip on the barge to get to Caleta Gonzalo. When you reach your destination, you will spot the entrance of the Pumalín Douglas Tompkins Park, a 400-thousand-hectare national park, where you can enjoy the trails of various difficulties, sport fishing, and camping. Because of the popularity of this destination, make sure to make your reservation in advance.
6. The last part of the journey goes from Caleta Gonzalo to Chaiten; a trip of a little over an hour until arriving to the city that got worldwide fame after being devastated by a volcano in 2008.