Road Trips in Patagonia

Patagonia, Chile ©

The sheer size and remoteness of Patagonia means that long-distance road trips are an exhilarating way of exploring the region. What’s more, the terrain of endless steppes interrupted by rivers, gorges and gullies is also ideal for off-roading. The two most popular road trips in Argentine Patagonia are the Ruta de los Siete Lagos (Seven Lakes Route) in the Lake District and the endless Ruta 40, a little-used highway running directly south from Bariloche to El Calafate. 

Ruta de los Siete Lagos ©

The Seven Lakes Route is stunning at any time of year. It is a curling, curving road that rings the seven interconnecting lakes of this region, with panoramic views every step of the way. Visit friendly small towns, stay in wonderful luxury hotels or cheaper wooden cabins and sample locally brewed beer, handmade ice creams and delicious jams. Otherwise, if you are looking for something a little more challenging, the desolate plains south of the Lake District hold immense appeal and are best accessed by the lonely Ruta 40 (which actually starts in La Quiaca on the Bolivian border). Take plenty of food and fuel as houses, let alone towns, are sparse. It is a surreal and unique experience.

Ruta 40 ©

In Chilean Patagonia, one road trip stands head and shoulders above the rest: the Carretera Austral, or southern highway. The main spine, which is largely gravel, winds through 1000 km of dramatic scenery. If the forests of the northern section seem too green to be real, the lakes and rivers further south are an even more extraordinary hue. Driving will give you the liberty to stop and marvel at the landscape whenever it takes your fancy, and if you want a different perspective, hitchhike instead and enjoy its beauty from the back of a pickup, a truly exhilarating experience.

Carretera Austral ©

The Patagonia Handbook is available now:

This is edited copy from Footprint Handbooks. For comprehensive details (incl address, tel no, directions, opening times and prices) please refer to book or individual chapter PDF
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