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Puerto Montt - Puerto Natales
See the map of the Southern Road
The Southern Road, begins in Puerto Montt and finishes in Cove Yungay. Its building began in 1979, its last section was inaugurated in 1996. Completely made of riprap and partially connected with transfer boats, this road carries the visitor into a world of incomparable and startling beauty.
Snowdrift Southern Road Baker River
Queulat National Park
From the tourist point of view, the Southern Road has become one of the most important attractiveness in Chile, since it has opened the way to a territory of which a lot has to be discovered: the Northern Patagonia. This region embraces big extensions of cold forest, national parks, glaciers, gigantic ice fields, lagoons, fiords, rivers and lakes. It is an ideal territory to practice adventure tourism, fishing, trekking, extreme sports, kayak, rafting and the observation of flora and fauna in their wilder state.
The journey for the Southern Road is crosses the Andes several times, skirting the coast and the fiords of the Western Patagonia, going into in the ever green forests, coming closer to numerous glaciers, big bi-national lakes and snowdrifts of the Northern and Southern Ice Fields, to conclude in Villa O'Higgins near the Southern Ice Field.
To begin, Futaleufú (Big River in Mapuche language) is a picturesque town located amid the Mountain range of the Andes, 350 meters above sea level and to 10 kilometers from the frontier with Argentina, it enchants the visitors of its countless natural attractions.
Among the recreational activities that can be carried out are rafting and the kayak in the river Futaleufú, given the excellent conditions of the river. It has been classified by experts as one of the 3 best in the world for practicing these adventurous sports.
However, it is possible to enjoy other varied outdoor recreational alternatives, like horseback rides and walks through various paths, mountain bicycle, floating and canoeing in the river Espolón, canoeing in gulches and canyons (a relatively new sport of French origin), kayaking in the diverse lakes, fly-fishing, mountaineering and observation of flora and fauna. Photographic Safaris can be organized for the surroundings, traveling almost unexplored places, or to have the opportunity to visit the National Reservation Futaleufú, created for the protection of the Cypress of the Mountain range (Austrocedrus chilensis) and of the Huemul.
The Southern Channels extend in north-south direction, for more than 1.600 km. They have an intricate morphology and a rigorous climate. There are two groups of channels: those related to the archipelago of Chiloé and those related to the Patagonia. The peninsula of Taitao separates them.
During the Pleistocene, big glaciers dug deep valleys of vertical walls in the Mountain range of the Andes. When the glaciers retired, the sea level increased and it flooded the valleys nearest to the coast, creating an extensive system of fiords and channels. With abundant rains coming from the Pacific Ocean, these fiords harbor magnificent forests of millennial larches. The Cascades, the abundant wild fauna, the marine fauna and the coastal thermal waters make of the fiords of Patagonia an important place for marine cruises y expeditions in kayak.
As you advance between the channels and fiords, you meet the beautiful Lagoon San Rafael, north of the Northern Ice Fields, part of the National Park Laguna San Rafael, the biggest in the Region of Aysén in the Chilean Western Patagonia. The main attractiveness of Lagoon San Rafael is the glacier San Rafael, also known as glacier San Valentín, the highest snowdrift in the Northern Ice Fields.
The sailing toward the Lagoon San Rafael lapses through channels and along islands of different sizes. In them it is possible to observe the vegetation of the area, formed mainly by a thick forest, rich in ferns. The fauna of the sector is noticeable for the great variety of birds.
The entrance to the Lagoon San Rafael is carried out eluding blocks of ice of different sizes, forms and tones of blue. The cruisers remain in the area from 5 to 8 hours and they have boats to bring the tourists closer to the snowdrift San Rafael.
The Lagoon San Rafael (declared Reservation of the Biosphere in 1979 by Unesco), shows the qualities of an untouched ecosystem, where the black neck swan, the caiquenes and a variety of ducks and cormoranes, together with coipos, pudus, foxes and sea wolves are part of the beauty of an unexplored area. Nothing resembles the majestic dawn that welcomes the travelers when entering the Lagoon; or to the deafening roar of the floes coming off of the glacier to feed the multicolored waters. And amid this indescribable scenario, the travelers will be able to come closer to the glacier in boats and to navigate through the white cloth of floating ice enjoying a traditional whisky with eternal ice. It is most impressive to observe the fall from the glacier of big blocks of ice stumbling down and the great roar produced as they fall into the water.
In the town of Puerto Eden, located about 400 kilometers north of Puerto Natales, ends the first part of the journey. It is the only inhabited town on the Patagonia channels, on the Island Wellington, the largest island in the West Patagonia Archipelago. Their only access to it is through the water. The purity of the natural environment of Puerto Eden is the ideal scenario to carry out diverse outdoor activities: trekking, kayak, fishing, photography and observation of flora and fauna. Puerto Eden is the entrance portal for the visitors of the Pio XI glacier and the Bernardo O’Higgins National Park.
Their population reaches 170 people, with a clear descendant from the Kaweskar people, the old inhabitants of this part of the continent.
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