'Selfdrive in Chilean Patagonia'

What makes this trip special?

Maipo wines

Maipo wines

Maipo Valley wineries

Home to Chile and Latin America's most recognised wine producers Concha y Toro, the Maipo Valley is a short distance from Santiago and a perfect morning or afternoon trip if you are based in the city. The wineries here offers tours of the vineyards and cellars, as well as a tasting session to finish.

Volcanoes and lakes

Volcanoes and lakes

Puerto Varas & the Chilean Lake District

Puerto Varas is a small town on the shores of Lake Llanquihue with stunning views across to the Osorno and Calbuco volcanoes. A great base for exploring the region, there is a huge array of activities to suit the sedentary or more active traveller.

Patagonian jungle

Patagonian jungle

Huilo Huilo Biological Reserve

Huilo Huilo Reserve is a private project setup with the aim of preserving the regions native forest and wildlife. There is over 600km2 of land within the park, and with rivers, trees and mountains at your disposal this is a great place for outdoor enthusiasts.

Seafood and stilts

Seafood and stilts

Chiloé Island

Chiloé's isolation from mainland Chile has preserved its long standing air of mystery and tradition. The island has some of the country's best seafood, and perhaps its most unique architecture in the form of its wooden churches and stilted houses on the sea front. There are large colonies of Humboldt and Magellanic penguins towards the beaches of Puñihuil, and this is the only known place in the world where both species exisit toegther.

Granite peaks of Patagonia

Granite peaks of Patagonia

Torres del Paine National Park

Torres del Paine is one of South America's most famous, and possibly its most photogenic national park. The massive rock pillars of Las Torres loom above the vast expanse of grasslands, glaciers and lakes, and are visible from almost all the trails within the park. The park is home to an abundance of flora and fauna, and remains Chile's premier destination for walkers and hikers.

Magellanic Penguins

Magellanic Penguins

Magdalena Island

This small island in the straits of Magellan is home to a wide variety of seabirds, but most famously to the Magellanic Penguin. The island is uninhabited by humans, but hosts thousands of Penguins, and remains one of the best places to see them in Patagonia.

Poetic port-town

Poetic port-town


Chile's unique second city of Valparaiso is now an UNESCO world heritage site made famous by its colourful hilltop neighbourhoods and rickety funicular railway elevators still in active use. The town's most famous resident and Nobel literature prize winner Pablo Neruda, was hugely influenced by the town. His former home 'La Sebastiana' has been preserved much as it was: a worthy pilgrimage for those new to his poetry and those who have made it part of their lives.

Itinerary map for Chile 'Selfdrive in Chilean Patagonia' holiday


  • Day      Overnight
  • 1 Santiago
  • 2 Santiago
  • 3 Temuco
  • 3 Pucon
  • 4 Huerquehue
  • 5 Huilo Huilo
  • 6 Huilo Huilo
  • 7 Puerto Varas
  • 8 Chiloé Island
  • 9 Torres del Paine
  • 10 Torres del Paine
  • 11 Torres del Paine
  • 12 Punta Arenas
  • 13 Punta Arenas
  • 14 Valparaíso
  • 15 Valparaíso
  • For the detail of each day click the ‘Day-by-day’ tab above.

Day-by-day itinerary for 'Selfdrive in Chilean Patagonia'


Arrive in Santiago and transfer to your hotel with an introductory walking tour

Upon arrival off an overnight flight in the early morning you are met and taken to your hotel in the Chilean Capital. The transfer to your hotel in the centre of the city takes you past a few areas of interest in Santiago, and your English speaking guide is on hand to give you an introduction to the area around your hotel, helping you locate nearby restaurants and places of note. After your brief tour, you have the rest of the afternoon free to explore more of the city or relax at your hotel.


Visit to Isla Negra, Pablo Neruda's home (closed Mondays) on the Pacific coast and Vineyard

Full day shared tour travelling out from the capital to the Pacific coast. There at Isla Negra amid a landscape of eucalyptus and pine somewhat reminiscent of the south of France, Nobel lauriate Pablo Neruda built his eclectic beach house. This is now a musem with an audio guide which tells you about his eclectic collections which fill the house ranging from nautical bric-a-brac such as ships in bottles and figurehead carved wooden prow sculptures, to unusual glass bottles and beautiful shells. Pablo was a man who liked to entertain and there is a home bar with great view out to sea where they have signed their names on the ceiling. This is a popular place for Chileans to visit so be prepared to queue to get in. It is worth the wait. The tour continues with a visit to a winery in the Casablanca Valley where you learn about the comlete winemaking process from havesting to tasting Lunch is included. Note: as Chile has a zero alcohol rule when driving this will be your only opportunity for your driver/s to sample the local produce at lunchtime. [We can substitute a different full day tour if this is a Monday or if this suggestion does not appeal e.g. perhaps substituting a visit to Valparaiso & Vina del Mar, or more time in Santiago itself, if you would prefer].


Fly to Temuco in the northern Lake District, pick up hire car drive to Pucon

At the agreed time you are taken to Santiago airport on time for your flight to Temuco. On arrival, pick up your hire car and drive around 2 hours to Pucón on the shores of Lake Villarica. The town itself is a major centre for adventure tourism within the lake distrcit, and is the ideal base for active excursions such as white water rafting or hiking the Villarica volcano. You have the rest of the afternoon free.


Free day in the region

Today you are free to explore the area around Pucón independently. One option is to visit the Huerquehue National park using your car, and this beautiful protected area is typical of the region with forests and lakes providing some fantastic walking trails and views across the valleys and towards the Villarica volcano. Alternatively, if you would like to do something more adventurous, then you could organise some white water rafting or kayaking on the river Pucón whilst there are also places to mountain bike and horse ride if you prefer to be off your feet for the day.


Drive to Huilo Huilo private biological reserve, near Puerto Fuy

Today drive south through the Villarica National Park towards the Huilo Huilo reserve around 3 hours drive south of Pucón. This is an unusual private ecotourism project set in the humid Valdivian temperate rainforest. With a range of accommodation in fantastical architectural styles - imagine some curious pixie-like, fairytale world inhabited by magical elves and goblins with local made handicrafts to match - think wood turning, embroidery and felt worked magical beings. But aside from all that it’s a great place to connect with nature and walk amid Nothofagus Southern Beech. The owners of the reserve have a conservation project to protect and increase the population of the shy, rare Huemul, or southern Andean deer and two other unusual species found here, the pointed snouted Darwin's Frog and the 'Monito del Monte' or Colocolo Opossum - a diminutive, mouse-like, nocturnal marsupial which lives amid dense thickets of Chilean bamboo colihue in the Valdivian forest. On the way down to Huilo Huilo, you may like to stop in the Geothermal hot springs around 17 km outside of Pucón towards the the town of Coñaripe. The hot springs have 20 thermal pools with temperatures ranging between 39°C and 44°C, and are located in the middle of the native forests of the Villarrica National Park. You will be driving through a region with strong Mapuche and Pehuenche communities.


Day to explore Huilo Huilo private biological reserve

Today you have a full day to explore the Huilo Huilo Reserve, with use of your car as you see fit. There are walks all around the reserve that can be done on a self-guided basis such as the Truful and Botanical trails, as well as excursions that can be booked locally with guided assistance that range from mountain biking and rafting trips to an exhilarating network of ziplines through the canopy, a visit to Huilo Huilo falls, woodwork workshops, mushroom trail and a milk and honey tour. Perhaps marvel at the extra-ordinary architecture in the central accommodation complex comprising the unique Magic Mountain, the cantileavered Nothofagus Hotel, and mushroom themed Reino Fungi lodge.


To Puerto Varas perhaps via German settlement of Frutillar

Today drive from your hotel in Huilo Huilo to Puerto Varas where you stay for two nights. The most direct route is around 300km along the Ruta 5, but on your way down to the south, come off the main road make a detour to visit the German town of Frutillar. Founded in 1856 by Vincente Perez Rosales this is a civilized, lakeside town which hosts an annual two week international music festival (last week of Jan, first week of Feb). It has a German colonial museum and on a clear day is the perfect location for a great shot of snow capped Osorno volcano which is directly opposite across the the waters of Lake Llanquihue


Puerto Varas - Osorno Volcano & Petrohue falls

Free day based in Puerto Varas. After exploring the town perhaps and head east around the Llanquihue lake towards the Osorno Volcano. Along this road skirting the edge of the lake you can take a walk around the perfect conical volcano for some excellent photo opportunities, or continue on the road until arriving at the beautiful Petrohue Falls. Beyond the waterfalls the road continues to Lago Todos Santos and a volcanic beach with views across the water towards the mountain village of Peulla.


To Southern Patagonia - Puerto Natales

In the morning drive to nearby Puerto Montt airport (21km) to drop off your hire car and fly further south to the town of Punta Arenas. On arrival in Punta Arenas you pick up your second hire car of the trip from the rental office and drive the 250 km (3h) through the Patagonian grassland Stepe watching out for flightless Rhea and Guanacos en route to Puerto Natales. Once you have checked in at your hotel you might choose to visit the Milodón cave situated just a few miles out of town. The cave is made famous for the discovery of the remains of a giant ground sloth, or Milodón, resembling a large bear.

DAY 10

we suggest you visit Torres del Paine National Park

Today you are free to explore the nearby Torres del Paine National Park independently, using your hire car to get to the different areas. Best to fill up with petrol first and take a box lunch and snacks with you from Puerto Natales as on the whole the lodges inside the park don't welcome day visitors. Walks within the park vary in length from full day hikes to shorter half day trails - you will need to pick circular routes to start and return to wherever you have chosen to park your vehicle. There are some option available for non-walkers such as an excursion by boat to the Glacier Grey, or horse back rides through the Pampa grasslands. Perhaps best of all is just enjoying touring in your vehicla and photographing the impressive Towers of Paine in the ever changing light. Some of the best views are taken from a distance Please note that your entrance fees for the park will be payable locally, and this would be organised at the entrance to the Park.

DAY 11

perhaps make a return visit to Torres del Paine ?

Today is a second full day based in Puerto Natales with your hire car at your disposal. Perhaps a return to focus on a different section of the Torres del Paine national park. Optional alternatives available locally (subject to availability) include a boat trip from Puerto Natales on Last Hope Sound to Balmaceda glacier. We can pre-book this for you in advance if you know you will definitely want to do this. We suggest you visit The Singular Hotel at nearby Puerto Borries for a meal one evening - this is a fascinating place set in an old meat packing factory.

DAY 12

Transfer back to Punta Arenas

a.m. free in the Puerto Natales area. In the afternoon drive back to Punta Arenas (3hs). Where you stay for a positioning night prior to catching a morning ferry boat to Tierra del Fuego tomorrow

DAY 13

catch the morning ferry to Tierra del Fuego to visit King Penguin colony (Tue, Thu, Fri, Sat only)

You must be at the ferry boat terminal in Punta Arenas for the morning car ferry across The Straight of Magellan to the island of Tierra del Fuego. You arrive at a landing stage close to Porvenir town where you might choose to visit the fascinating local ethnographic museum to learn about the lives of the Selk'nam native people who lived here. We suggest you have some lunch in town then continue to the site of a small colony of King Penguins. The site is controlled by local authorities, and is one of the world's more accessible places to see the second largest species of Penguin up close. Across the Bahia Inutil and at the mouth of the Marazzi river you are limited to around 45 minutes with this small colony. Then return drive to Porvenir town for an overnight stay.

DAY 14

Return ferry to Punta Arenas (Wed, Thu, Fri, Sat, Sun)

Leisurely start before you must be back at the ferry landing stage to catch the boat trip back to Punta Arenas. Afternoon free to explore Punta Arenas. Note: if you would prefer we can shorten this whole itinerary to by one day if you are prepared to join a very long full-day shared day trip excursion (14hrs) from Punta Arenas to Porvenir and the King Penguin colony then crossing Tierra del Fuego to travel back to Punta Arenas via the shorter ferry at Punta Delgada). This would give you two consecutive nights staying at Punta Arenas Day 12 & Day 13 and avoid you driving the massive distance involved.

DAY 15

Fly to Santiago

This morning you are at leisure until the agreed time when you transfer to the airport, drop your hire car and fly back to Santiago. You are met on arrival in Santiago and transferred into the city centre for one night.

DAY 16

Return to Santiago and fly back to the UK

a.m. free in Santiago before you are transferred to Santiago airport in time for your international flight home.

Guide prices for 'Selfdrive in Chilean Patagonia'

options based on all year low season mid season high season peak season other season
Mid-range hotels, category B manual hatchback, shared excursions 2 people sharing £4,125
Prices are per person and include:
  • all accommodation
  • all travel within Chile
  • meals as indicated (B = breakfast, L = lunch, D = dinner)
  • 10 days rental car in two locations with basic CDW insurance with a deductible and unlimited mileage
  • all excursions described
  • domestic flights
Prices do not include:
  • transatlantic flights
  • travel insurance
  • airport and departure taxes
  • items of a personal nature such as drinks, tips, laundry, etc
  • car-hire: additional driver insurance
  • car-hire: petrol
  • car-hire: refundable deposit

Customer reviews for 'Selfdrive in Chilean Patagonia'

Recent reviews are shown here from holidays based on this initial design. In each case the itinerary may have been modified (a little or a lot) to suit the individual traveller.


Seasonal information for 'Selfdrive in Chilean Patagonia'

Along this route in January

Day Location Max °C Monthly rainfall
1 Santiago 30°C rainfall 1mm
2 Santiago 30°C rainfall 1mm
3 Temuco 25°C rainfall 38mm
3 Pucon 24°C rainfall 67mm
4 Huerquehue 22°C rainfall 40mm
5 Huilo Huilo 21°C rainfall 50mm
6 Huilo Huilo 21°C rainfall 50mm
7 Puerto Varas 20°C rainfall 76mm
8 Chiloé Island 17°C rainfall 80mm
9 Torres del Paine 10°C rainfall 117mm
10 Torres del Paine 10°C rainfall 117mm
11 Torres del Paine 10°C rainfall 117mm
12 Punta Arenas 15°C rainfall 36mm
13 Punta Arenas 15°C rainfall 36mm
14 Valparaíso 23°C rainfall 3mm
15 Valparaíso 23°C rainfall 3mm

Typical weather for January


Max °C figures are the average daily maximum temperatures for the month. Rainfall is the average precipitation for the month.

Hotels for 'Selfdrive in Chilean Patagonia'

Days 1 - 2

Hotel Providencia


A newly renovated, 75 room traditional hotel with a garden swimming pool and fitness centre, conveniently located near the Providencia metro station and close to the entrance to the Cerro San Cristobal. Rooms have cable TV, A/C and free Wi-Fi. There is a restaurant on site, as well as pleasant gardens and food is served in the terrace area by the pool.


Hotel Providencia
Double room
Days 3 - 4



Hotel Malalhue is a mountain style hotel with 24 guestrooms. All have private bathrooms and WIFI whilst there is a bar and restaurant open all year round. The hotel is around 800m from the centre of town so ideal for those with a car. Guests also have use of the outdoor heated swimming pool.

hotel exterior
Days 5 - 6

Montaña Mágica Lodge

Huilo-Huilo Reseve

This quirky volcano shaped lodge located in the Huilo Huilo reserve is 5km from the Huilo Huilo falls. The lodge is ideal for people self-driving due to its remote location, and nearby are a variety of outdoor activities. Rooms do not have televisions, but there is wifi, private bathrooms and a café on site.

Montaña Mágica Lodge
Lodge Exterior
Days 7 - 8


Puerto Varas

Hotel Puelche is located a few blocks from dowtown Puerto Varas, facing lake Llanquihue and with views of Osorno and Calbuco volcanoes. All 21 rooms (divided into Premium and Superior Rooms) at the hotel have private bathrooms, hairdryers, safety deposit boxes and minibar. Facilities at the hotel include a restaurant and spa.

Exterior of the hotel
Days 9 - 11

Río Serrano

Torres del Paine-Rio Serrano

Located near the Serrano River and the South entrance to the Torres del Paine National Park the hotel is a good mid range option. The hotel comprises a total of 95 standard (24 sq mt) and superior (32 sq mt) rooms all with en-suite facilities (shower for standard rooms and bathtub for superior rooms) that include safety deposit box, telephone, central heating, bathroom amenities, hairdryer, desk and mini-bar. There is a ground floor bar, and the views from the upstairs restaurant are excellent.

Río Serrano
Hotel Exterior
Days 12 - 13

Isla Rey Jorge

Punta Arenas

Located near the main square, this colonial building features 22 rooms (including one junior suite) with amenities such as cable TV, telephone, hair-dryer and safety box. The hotel also has a bar which serves food, a games room and internet access.

Isla Rey Jorge
Front of the hotel
Days 14 - 15

Gran Hotel Gervasoni


A quirky, characterful and historic building near Cerro Concepción on the Gervasoni Walk. Originally a private house built by European immigrants in the late 19th century the public areas retain their high Victorian décor and furnishings. With its steep wooden staircases (no lift) and commanding views over Valparaiso town and out to the bay you might think you are on a ship. There are 15 rooms each with en-suite (4 of which with hydro massage) facilities, central heating, satellite TV and Wi-Fi all individually decorated. Rooms vary in size and some have views to the sea. There is a breakfast room with a nice terrace, a restaurant and a wine cellar.


Gran Hotel Gervasoni
Hotel entrance