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Introducing Northern Patagonia

For a century, Northern Patagonia has been the most rugged and remote part of continental Chile, the place where scant pioneers quietly set forth a Wild West existence. While life here may be tough for its residents, it doesn't lack for scenery. Exuberant rainforest, scrubby steppe and unclimbed peaks crowd the horizon, but the essence of this place is water, from the clear cascading rivers to the turquoise lakes, massive glaciers and labyrinthine fjords. Southbound visitors often bypass Northern Patagonia on a sprint to Torres del Paine, but its backcountry treasures are pay dirt to the adventurous traveler. With the construction of dams and high-tension towers imminent, many feel that the time to see this virgin region is now.

With a few ferry interruptions, the gravel Carretera Austral rumbles from Puerto Montt to Villa O'Higgins, some 1200km south.