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Wild Patagonia

Patagonia is a legendary, wild land with a magic flair magical and there are 1001 ways of exploring. It is an unforgettable adventure to tour wild Patagonia with your own rental car – and well planned with the right partner, it is safe and uncomplicated.

Our sample itineray is intended for „Patagonia newcomers“ and covers a moderate period of time – after all, there is so much to discover in the rest of Chile!

It’s best to plan your trip in Chile with your own rental vehicle in stages and to cover the long distances with domestic flights. Car-Rental-Chile makes it possible: We will be happy to advise you on domestic flights and assist you with the booking process.

First of all, a few tips on trips with a rental car in Patagonia:
Many roads in Patagonia are very remote gravel roads where you rarely see other vehicles. There may be poor cell phone reception, so in case of a breakdown you should be well prepared. In order to make sure you do not have to worry about emergencies, Car-Rental-Chile offers additional accessories such as emergency kits, extra spare tires, and tools.
Please drive very carefully on gravel, sand or stones, and keep in mind that on gravel roads you can only go about half as fast as on asphalt.
Also, make sure to fuel your rental car at every opportunity, because gas stations are few and far between in such a remote area. Please be sure to choose a suitable vehicle category for this route!

The Torres del Paine National Park is certainly the absolute highlight in Patagonia, which is why our sample itinerary is all about the park.
It owes its name to the “Torres del Paine”, three granite peaks of about 2.800m. They are the main attraction of the park for many visitors. However, you will soon realize that there are a lot of other absolutely amazing attractions, including millennia-old glaciers, glacial lakes, rivers, stunning mountain scenery, extraordinary animals, beautiful hiking trails and much more.

The accommodations within the park ranges from simple campsites to luxury hotels and are usually open from September to the end of March, only a few hotels open all year round. IMPORTANT: Book your accommodations in and around the park with quite some time in advance, since capacities are limited and the park is very popular. With your own rental car you are flexible and can even adapt to the rough and changing weather.

Speaking of weather: Locals say, if you don´t like the weather in Patagonia, just wait about twenty minutes. And it´s true: In Patagonian summer you can experience all four seasons in just one day! Snow, rain, gusts of wind, clouds, blue skies and bright sunshine within a few hours are quite common. So, make sure to wear several layers of light, yet windproof clothes and to have rain gear as well as sunscreen, a hut and sunglasses always at hand.

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Sample Itinerary for a Rental Car Trip to Patagonia:

Punta Arenas – Puerto Natales
Pick up your rental car at the airport in Punta Arenas. Please have your driver´s license and a credit card ready, since a copy of the card must be deposited as a guarantee. The copy will be erased upon return of the car, if there is no damage.

Drive north through the vast Patagonian pampas. Your first destination is the small town of Puerto Natales, located at the fjord „Ultima Esperanza „ (Last Hope). On the road, look out for the scattered estancias and mounted baqueanos (Patagonian shepherds).
After arriving in Puerto Natales, take a stroll through the city and a walk along the fjord. If you are still missing any gear or supplies, best buy it in Puerto Natales. Also, make sure to fuel your rental car, because there are no secured gas stations on the way to Torres del Paine and none in the park itself.

Overnight stay in Puerto Natales. Distance covered: about 300 km on asphalt.

Excursion from/to Puerto Natales
We recommend staying at least one day in Puerto Natales, because there is so much to do and discover!
A boat trip to the glaciers Balmaceda and Serrano is a very nice excursion for people of any physical condition (book in advance in one of the agencies in Puerto Natales). The glaicers flow down from the mountains in the fjords off Puerto Natales. This tour gives a vivid image of climate change: While the Serrano glacier still calves into the fjord, filling the water with beautiful white icebergs, the Balmaceda glacier has not reached the sea for quite some years now, but has turned into a hanging glacier! The tour can be booked with or without lunch on an Estancia.

For those who rather like to be a little more active, we recommend to do a kayak tour on the Eberhard fjord, a hike to the viewpoint of “Cerro Dorotea” or a horseback excursion to the Patagonian pampa (book in advance). There are also bicycles for rent, to explore the area on your own.

Overnight stay in Puerto Natales.

Puerto Natales – Torres del Paine
Leave Puerto Natales and continue your way through the pampa north to the Torres del Paine National Park. The closer you get to the park, the more likely you are to see herds of wild guanacos and ñandu families near the road!
We recommend a small detour to the Milodon Cave, located only 25 km from Puerto Natales on the road to the park´s Serrano Sector. Even if you are heading to the Laguna Amarga Sector, the detour is not far. German pioneer Hermann Eberhard found remains of a prehistoric giant sloth (Milodón) in this cave in 1895. Today, a life-size model welcomes you to the cave, and a visitor center provides interesting information on the prehistoric fauna of Patagonia.
Enjoy the great views of the fjord on the route from Puerto Natales to the Torres del Paine National Park. Later on, you will be astonished, when the mighty Paine-Massif seems to rise suddenly out of nowhere!

Overnight stay at Torres del Paine National Park or surroundings. Distance covered: about 150 km on a gravel road.

Conquer “Base las Torres”
The hike to „Base las Torres“ is considered a must do. However, quite some fitness is required, since it covers about 20 km on partly difficult terrain and takes an average time of about 8 hours, depending on the physical condition. Starting at The Hotel Las Torres in the Laguna Amarga Sector, the first couple of hours lead you upwards into the Asencio Valley, stopping occasionally to admire the marvellous views of Lake Nordenskjöld and Almirante Nieto Mountain behind you. Refugio El Chileno is a great place to rest and have a picnic.
The hike continues along the river to the tree line and from there over steep, rocky terrain until finally the deep blue glacier lagoon appears behind the last moraine. Beyond the lagoon, the “Torres del Paine” rise steeply into the sky – the wonderful sight and the feeling of “having made it” are simply amazing!
If you don´t feel like walking all the way up, you can also reach the Torres del Paine on horseback (book in advance in the hotel!).

Overnight stay at Torres del Paine National Park or surroundings

Grey Glacier
After yesterday´s strenuous hike, take a relaxing tour to another breathtaking highlight of the park today: A boat trip to the icy wall of the Grey Glacier! As many others, this glacier is retreating, but with its towering blue-white ice wall and icebergs floating on the lake it is still a breathtaking sight! The highlight of the approximately three-hour boat trip is a pisco or whiskey on millennia-old glacier ice right in front of the glacier.
Starting point is at Hotel Lago Grey. To get to the boat, a 20-30 minute trek across a sandy and windy beach is required. Tickets can be purchased in advance at most hotel receptions.

Overnight stay at Torres del Paine National Park or surroundings

Viewpoint-Hopping or Guided Tour
Today, explore the Torres del Paine National Park by rental car. Several beautiful viewpoints are easy to reach, such as the Mirador Condor, the Mirador Cuernos and the Mirador Nordenskjöld (west to east). Mirador Cuernos might be the spot where most photos in the park are taken, since from there you have a wonderful view of the Cuernos del Paine and Lake Nordenskjöld. Stop also at “Salto Grande” the impressive big waterfall of Rio Paine. You will take home so many postcard-like photos from today…
Alternatively, you can go on a guided horseback or kayak tour (book in advance in the hotel!)

Overnight stay at Torres del Paine National Park or surroundings

Torres del Paine – Punta Arenas
Drop off your rental car at the airport in Punta Arenas and take your return flight. OR, depending on your time, take a detour to the interesting open air museum „Nao Victoria“, on the banks of the Magellan Strait just outside Punta Arenas. There you can board a faithful replica of the vessel Nao Victoria, the ship with which Hernando de Magallanes circumnavigated the world in the 16th century. Take the steering wheel and imagine what a journey over the ocean in wind and weather must have been like in the ancient times! There are replicas of historic Chilean ships as well.

Distance covered: about 440 km, including about 140 on a gravel road.
Drop off your rental car at the airport in Punta Arenas and take your return flight or stay in Punta Arenas.

Punta Arenas and Surroundings
Explore Punta Arenas and surroundigs with your rental car today.
The Reserva Forestal Magallanes lies only 9 km west of Punta Arenas. Five different hiking trails go through local Lenga and Coigüe forest. Hiking is rewarded with a wonderful view over the city, the Magellan Strait and in case of good weather, even Tierra del Fuego.
Anyone interested in the colonial history of Patagonia, should drive from Punta Arenas about 60 km to the south to the open-air museum Fuerte Bulnes. There you can catch a glimpse of the hard conditions the pioneers lived there for several years at the first Chilean outpost in this area.
Other attractive options are sea kayaking on the Magellan Strait or a boat excursion to the penguin islands of Magdalena and Marta (book in advance!). These islands in the Magellan Strait are home to a huge colony of about 150,000 Magellan penguins. On the way, you will also encounter sea lion colonies and other local fauna. Be aware, that the sea can be rough there!

Distance covered: depending on excursion 0-170 km
Drop off your rental car at the airport in Punta Arenas and take your late return flight or stay another night in Punta Arenas.

Punta Arenas
Drop off your rental car at the airport in Punta Arenas and take your return flight.