Getting There & Away
Flights from Puerto Montt access Chaitén and Coyhaique (some direct from Santiago). Within the region there are charter services and there may be regional flights between Coyhaique, Cochrane and Villa O'Higgins.
The Carretera Austral and its offshoots are remote. Sections between Chaitén and Balmaceda have been paved, but offshoot roads and those further south are unpaved and in varying condition.
Most travelers start with a ferry from Puerto Montt or Chiloé, to Chaitén or Puerto Chacabuco; fly to Chaitén or Coyhaique; or go overland via Argentina, accessing the region through Futaleufú. In order to drive the length of the Carretera Austral, there are several mandatory ferry crossings. It's now also possible to travel from the south, with a car ferry that links Puerto Natales to Caleta Tortel and Puerto Yungay.
Some bus routes only have services a few days per week, with fewer in low season. In high season long-distance buses often fill up early in their route and refuse standing passengers. Book your bus tickets at least three days in advance to spare yourself the frustration.
Hitchhiking, not recommended by Lonely Planet, is possible along the Carretera Austral, but difficult for groups or travelers with a lot of luggage.