Aysén is to outdoor enthusiasts what the Sistine Chapel is to art-lovers: a masterpiece worth the journey. This overlooked corner of Northern Patagonia juggles hanging glaciers, brooding fjords, lush rainforests and guanaco-filled steppes. Not only that; it’s the least populated of Chile’s 15 regions, promising ample opportunity for solitude and reflection. Road-trippers and cyclists alike revel in the ever-changing vistas at each twist of the (largely unpaved) Carretera Austral, the sole highway linking the disparate towns and growing parklands of Patagonia’s last frontier.
Of course, such rugged beauty comes at a price. Aysén demands extreme patience with unpredictable weather, obligatory (yet infrequent) ferry crossings and a highway that’s very much a work-in-progress. Swap your lattes for mates and throw any notions of a fixed itinerary out the window, however, and your reward is an end-of-the-world adventure where gauchos outnumber tourists and the only path available is the unbeaten one.
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