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The Southern Coast Travel Guide

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  • Photo: Hugo Brizard / Shutterstock

Plan Your Southern Coast Vacation

The sliver of land known as the Southern Coast stretches for more than 1,000 km (620 miles), from the southernmost part of the Lakes District through southernmost Aysén. For travelers driving along the Carretera Austral, or Southern Highway, it's like a seemingly boundless tour through a natural playground. Many of its wondrous places are preserved in numerous national parks and reserves, making

the region a growing, global hotspot for outdoors sports and ecotourism.

In the Southern Coast, forested mountains dominate the landscape, some of which rise dramatically from the shores of shimmering lakes. Slender waterfalls and nearly vertical streams, often seeming to emerge from the rock itself, tumble and slide from neck-craning heights. Some dissipate into misty nothingness before touching the ground, while others flow into innumerable rivers—large and small, wild and gentle—heading westward to the sea.

With the expansion of the Carretera Austral, migration has increased to the region. Still, this is one of the least-populated areas in South America, with a population density said to be lower than the Sahara Desert. The infrequent hamlets scattered along the low-lying areas of this rugged region subsist mainly as fishing villages or small farming centers. Coyhaique, the only town here of any size, has lots of dining and lodging options. Several intrepid entrepreneurs have also established world-class accommodations in remote locations throughout the region, near spectacular rivers, mountain peaks, lakes, volcanoes, and glaciers.

Planning a visit to the region's widely separated points of interest can be challenging, as getting from place to place is often difficult. Creating a logical itinerary in southern Chilean Patagonia is as much about choosing how to get here as it is about choosing where you want to go. The most rewarding mode of transport through this area is a combination of boat and plane, with an occasional car rental if you want to journey a little deeper into the hinterlands.

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Top Reasons To Go

  1. Scenery The Carretera Austral, a dusty dirt road that was blazed through southern Chile in the 1970s and ‘80s, has opened up one of the most beautiful places in the world to tourists. Rent a car, preferably a four-wheel-drive truck or jeep, and soak it all in.
  2. Glaciers To watch a chunk of ice break off the glaciers near Mount San Valentín and fall with a thundering splash into the sea below is reason enough for a trip along the southern coast to Laguna San Rafael National Park.
  3. Fishing Fly-fishing fanatics were among the first to explore this area thoroughly. At any number of lodges, you can step right outside your door for great fishing. A short boat trip brings you to isolated spots where you won’t run into another soul for the entire day.
  4. Rafting and kayaking The Futaleufú River is Class V-plus. That's raft speak for very fast-moving water. In fact, this river is considered one of the fastest in the world.

When To Go

When to Go

Late spring through summer—late November to mid-March—is considered high season in this part of southern Chile. It's highly recommended that...

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Check historic weather for your trip dates:

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