Exploring Aysén, Patagonia

Assorted tips and suggestions


What you’ll find below:

  • Why visit Aysén?

  • Methods of travel

  • Backpacking trips

  • Dayhikes

  • ·General advice for traveling

  • ·      Additional resources to explore


Why visit Aysén?

Patagonia, the southernmost part of Chile and Argentina, is a huge region—3x the size of California—with many compelling, distinct areas to visit.  Torres del Paine! Tierra del Fuego! Bariloche! El Calafate! El Chaltén! The Carretera Austral! Deciding where to visit can present a challenge. Since transportation within Patagonia, although improving, is mediocre, we recommend picking one or two areas and focusing your visit there.  Minimize your time in cars, buses and planes; maximize your time outside!


Our pitch for Aysén is simple: it’s spectacular, it’s relatively undiscovered, and now is a great time to see it. Chile’s second-to-southernmost region is also its least populated, most recently settled, and least developed, due to its rugged geography: guarded to the north by steep fjords, to the west by the Pacific, to the south by the world’s largest extrapolar ice fields, and to the east by the arid expanse of the Argentine pampa. Spectacular and vast, Aysén has mostly avoided industrial tourism. You won’t find mega-hotels or parking lots full of tour buses here. That said, Aysén is making a name for itself as a laboratory for conservation-focused development, and tourism is on the rise. In January 2018, a historic agreement between then-President Michelle Bachelet and Tompkins Conservation added 10 million acres to Chile’s national park system. New flagship parks throughout Aysén aim to simultaneously protect nature and bolster rural economies. Visitors have the opportunity to support sustainable local development that will help protect this wild region for decades to come.


Our advice? If you’re looking for a luxurious, predictable vacation to an iconic destination, and don’t mind the crowds that come with that, Torres del Paine might be a great fit. If diving into wild landscapes and rural cultures as an early visitor sounds enticing, learn more about Aysén below!



Carretera Austral

No matter where you go or what type of trip you plan, the Carretera Austral (“Southern Highway”) will play a role in your visit to Aysen. As the region’s only north-south road, the Carretera Austral links the region’s communities and national parks. Also known as Ruta 7, it starts in Puerto Montt, one region to the north, and ends in the southernmost town of Aysen.


Think of it as the backbone of your trip to get oriented and plan stops along the way. Expect to travel slow, and appreciate the adventure—this is one of the world’s great road trips!


A new initiative, La Ruta de Los Parques, promotes the Carretera and adjoining routes as a flagship tourism circuit for Chile, linking together 17 national parks and 60+ communities.





Methods of Travel

As you start sketching out your Patagonian travels, one early question to answer is what mode of travel you’ll use. Two common options: rent a car or travel by bus/ hitchhiking. Bikepacking is also possible, although a bit dusty and dangerous.


Pros of rental car: easier to get off the main routes, more comfortable, more flexible schedule, can carry more gear, buses can be full or hard to book.

Pros of buses: less expensive, easier to do thru-hikes where you start and end in different places, meet interesting people.


If renting a car, choose a sturdy 4x4 option. Expect to pay >$100USD/ day. Traeger is a well-established local option, although there are others.




Backpacking trips


Cerro Castillo National Park

·       Four day thru-hike

·       Two day loop


Patagonia National Park

Jeinimeni-Aviles thru-hike






Patagonia National Park

·       Lagunas Altas loop

·       Aviles Valley loop

·       Lago Chico area




Around Puerto Guadal

·       Fossil hike

·       Quick waterfall hike




Other outdoor things to do



·       Rio Baker rafting

·       Rio Baker to the sea

·       Rio Simpson

·       Marble caves flatwater paddling