Getting to the Park
We look forward to welcoming you to the Patagonia Park, a future national park in Chile. The park attracts visitors from all over the world, who arrive either by the Carretera Austral road or east from Argentina.
You can find flights from Santiago to Balmaceda (BBA), the closest airport to the park, at www.lan.com or www.skyairline.cl. There are several planes that leave daily. We recommend that you take the first flight of the day as the road trip from Balmaceda to the park can range from six to eight hours. The most common ways to access the park from Balmaceda are by rental car or bus.
The drive from Balmaceda/Coyhaique to the park can take anywhere between six and eight hours. This mostly dirt highway—the only continuous north-south road in Aysen—makes for an exciting road trip, with miles between houses, and hours between gas stations. You’ll encounter potholes, crazy drivers, terrifyingly sharp curves, steep cliffs, and few guardrails—but also spectacular views of bright blue rivers, snowcapped mountains, and wild terrain. We recommend either making a day of it and starting the drive first thing in the morning, or, if you land in the afternoon, doing half of the drive and staying the night in Puerto Tranquilo.
The directions to the park are simple: from Coyhaique, drive the Carretera Austral south towards Cerro Castillo. Continue south around Lago General Carrera, passing Puerto Tranquilo, the last stop for gas. This is about half way of the trip from Coyhaique/ Balmaceda and a good place to spend the night if you would like to break up the drive. Further south you will pass Puerto Bertrand (keep left to stay on the Carretera Austral) and follow the turquoise Baker River. Once you cross the Chacabuco River (you’ll see a sign), you’re a few kilometers from El Cruce Entrada Baker, a crossroads that overlooks the confluence of the Baker and Chacabuco Rivers. Just past the Cruce, take a left turn at the park entrance (the only left turn available) and drive for 11 km (6 miles) before reaching the park headquarters and Lodge at Valle Chacabuco. Please be aware, there is minimal signage along the ride, though there is essentially one road for the majority of the drive.
From Argentina: To reach the park from the east, turn off of Ruta 40 at Paso Roballos on the main east-west road. Cross the border and drive about an hour and a half west on the main road to the central park headquarters.
Upon arriving at Balmaceda Airport, take a transfer bus into downtown Coyhaique. This drive takes approximately one hour. You can buy tickets for the transfer bus inside the Balmaceda Airport, right next to the baggage claim. There are plenty of transfer buses, so you do not need to purchase tickets in advance. The tickets cost 5,000 pesos per person. When boarding the bus, the bus driver will ask you for your destination and he/she will drop you off there directly. Please have cash ready to pay your driver.
Please note that buses from Coyhaique to down to the park only leave first thing in the morning (9 a.m.), therefore we recommend planning to stay one night in Coyhaique. There are three options for buses you can take to the park: Interlagos, Acuario 13, and Don Carlos. All of the buses pick up at the bus station in the center of town. The bus station is on Lautaro Street on the 100-199 block, just off of the Plaza de Armes. It is best to buy a ticket or make a reservation in advance by either calling or going to the bus station. It is not guaranteed you can buy a ticket the same day as your planned travel day. The bus stop to get off at is called “El Cruce Entrada Baker” —make sure you tell the bus driver this is your destination! This gorgeous ride takes approximately seven hours, but provides breathtaking views of the Baker River and surrounding mountains.
Ask to be dropped off at El Cruce Entrada Baker, 17 km (10.5 miles) before Cochrane and just under an hour after Puerto Bertrand. You are now at the entrance to the park, though it is still 11k (6 miles) to the park office. Your best bet is to hitchhike, especially during the summer high season. You may also walk from El Cruce Entrada Baker, but it will take approximately two hours.
From the South (eg. Torres del Paine): If you are coming from the south you can take a flight from Punta Arenas to Balmaceda (one weekly flight on Wednesdays, available during the whole year, dapairline.com. From December to March, there are 02 weekly flights. For more information please contact firstname.lastname@example.org.
From the South (option 2): A second option is to take a bus from the city of Perito Moreno, Santa Cruz Province, Argentina to Los Antiguos on Lago Buenos Aires (named Lago General Carrera in Chile) and take a bus to the town of Chile Chico across the lake. From Chile Chico, a bus runs to Cochrane twice a week. The bus company is Buses Ale. Make sure to get off at El Cruce Entrada Baker (18km/11 miles before Cochrane).