Carretera Austral

Chile & Argentina | EXPEDITION


A guided, self-supported 670km mountain bike expedition along the iconic southern Carretera Austral in Patagonia. Travel along lakes and fjords by ferry as we navigate waterways and continue to explore south.


If you have been looking for an adventure in every sense of the word, this is the one for you. A guided, self supported, thrilling mountain bike expedition. Offering you the opportunity to totally immerse yourself in the barren roads along turquoise rivers, vast lakes and isolated valleys. Camp at picture perfect locations and visit quaint small towns as we alternate between camping and lodging. Travel along lakes and fjords by ferry as we navigate waterways and continue to explore south. Fuel up on local cuisine and craft beer if you wish after a hard days ride. This is the southern Carretera Austral, come and crank it with us!


A 670km journey from Coyhaique to El Chalten following the iconic Carretera Austral’s southern half. We practice a light bikepacking style of riding as we focus on riding quality, yet being completely self reliant during our expedition. Making use of a combination of camping and accommodation along the way enables us to travel lighter than with a traditional touring setup. Gravel roads is the name of the game in every condition imaginable.



8 – 21 December 2018
or please contact us


14 Days | 13 Nights

Start Location:

Coyhaique, Chile (Airport: Balmaceda)

End Location:

El Calefate, Argentina

Approximate Distance:

670 km

Group Size:

6 - 12 Riders

Skill Level:

Level 3 Fitness
Level 2 Technical
Level 3 Adventure



Land Cost:

$ 3600 / per person



Marble Cathedral Cave – Beautiful formations on Lago General Carreras

Tamango National Reserve – Home of the Huemul – an endangered species

Caleta Tortel – A town connected purely by a boardwalk with no roads

Villa O’Higgins – The End of the Road

El Chalten – Glaciares National Park and the Fitz Roy Massif

El Calefate – Perito Moreno Glacier

Cross waterways with ferries and see Patagonia from a different perspective

Cross the border from Chile to Argentina by bike along a route inaccessible by car

Camp wild in location normally only visible from airplanes

Enjoy an open and flexible itinerary

Patagonia, a region located at the southern end of South America. The Andes mountains shape this southern frontier with geographical wonders like Mt Fitz Roy, Torres Del Paine and Perito Moreno Glacier. 

This adventurer’s playground is shared by Argentina and Chile. Between these two countries runs a vein called highway Ruta 7, or better known as The Carretera Austral.  This route runs 1240km (770mi)from Puerto Montt to Villa O’Higgins through rural Patagonia.


The Carretera Austral is a guided, self supported expedition which follows a bikepacking, cross country style of riding. This is a linear expedition ride with no support vehicle or luggage transport. Riders should have their personal cycling, camping and bike packing equipment which will be fitted to your bike for the entire expedition. Detailed information and preparation guidelines will be provided in Onbike’s Carretera Austral rider’s guide which you will receive when booking.

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Balmaceda Airport – Transfer to Coyhaique


The expedition team arrives in Southern Patagonia with flights in to Balmaceda airport. A 45min transfer takes us to the town of Coyhaique. Here we will go over the expedition brief and prepare the bikes and equipment for the adventure that awaits. We sample our fist local cuisine with dinner in Coyhaique. Arrival / Bike & Equipment preparation / Dinner / Hotel or Cabana



Coyhaique – Villa Cerro Castillo

Today’s Ride:

96km / Paved road / 4-5 hours / Camping


The adventure begins as we leave the comfort of our accommodation and Coyhaique behind. We head south as our wheels meet the famous Carretera Austral. A gradual drag as we ascend towards the eastern foothills of the Mt Cerro Castillo. At about 50km, we start the first of two predominant climbs to cross over into Villa Cerro Castillo, situated at the base of Mt Cerro Castillo just outside the Cerro Castillo National Reserve. During this day there is the possibility of occasional high tail winds.



Villa Cerro Castillo – Bahia Murta

Today’s Ride:

101km / Gravel Road / 5-6 hours / Camping


We start our day heading east with Rio Ebanez (a major tributary of General Carrera Lake) as our hand rail on the left. Two steep climbs in the first 10 km warms our legs up early in the day and sets us up for a long gradual descend. We enter a valley with mountain ranges on both sides as we are guided by the geographic characteristics all the way to the small town of Bahia Murta. The road conditions vary from well groomed to possible washboard and potholes.



Bahai Murta – Puerto Tranquilo

Today’s Ride:

36km / Gravel Road / 2.5 – 3 hours / Hotel or Cabana


We retrace our trail of yesterday by 5 km to cross Rio Murta and then continue to head south for a spectacular ride all along the General Carrera Lake. Also know as Lake Buenos Aires on the Argentinian side, it has a surface area of 1850 square kilometres. An active recovery day on the bike allows us time in Puerto Tranquilo to explore the “Capillas de Marmol” (Marble Cathedral) and to sample some fantastic local brew at the microbreweries.



Puerto Tranquilo – Puerto Bertrand

Today’s Ride:

67km / Gravel road / 4 hours / Camping


A steep and steady climb out of town is followed by a downhill reward for more great riding along the General Carrera Lake. The middle part of today’s ride is fairly flat for this part of the world as we ride into evermore pristine and remote country. We descend into the lake side town of Puerto Bertrand and find an awesome spot to camp on the shores of Lago Bertrand.



Puerto Bertrand – Cochrane

Today’s Ride:

50km / 912m elevation gain / Gravel road – poor / 4 – 5 hours / Hotel or Cabana / National Reserve Tamango


South we ride alongside the Rio Barker for approximately 15km before we mimic its flow to the west. The next 40 km is the up and down this part of South Patagonia is known for. Loose yourself as we really start settling into this expedition lifestyle. A shorter day on the bike leaves time to visit the Tamango National Park in the afternoon. We spend the night in Cochrane an adventure hub in this part of the world.



Cochrane – Caleta Tortel

Today’s Ride:

127km / 1361m elevation gain / Gravel road / 9 hrs / Camping


Today is a challenging century plus ride with no services along the way. The solitude you will experience on your bike in this part of the world will stay with you for years to come. Almost traversing this narrow part of Chile, we ride South – East along the CA. The hardest riding is early in the day with an awesome downhill at almost 40km in. We ride a 20km detour that is well worth it as we reach the beautiful coastal town of Caleta Tortel, the administrative centre of the commune of Tortel.



Caleta Tortel – Caleta Yungay Ferry > Rio Bravo

Today’s Ride:

44km / Gravel road / 3 hours / 1 hour ferry to Rio Bravo / Camping


We spin the heaviness out of our legs with a flat 22km along the Rio Baker. We turn south again for the challenge of the day, an 8 km climb gaining 400m in elevation. We traverse a short plateau before a rewarding 10km downhill down to the edge of Fiordo Mitchel. We should time our ride carefully to catch the 1 hour ferry across the fjord to Rio Bravo.



Rio Bravo – Villa O’Higgins

Today’s Ride:

100km / Gravel Road – poor / 8-9 hours / Hotel or Cabana


Route conditions is arguably the worst for this leg of our expedition, but the natural beauty and totally makes up for it. We are deep into the wilderness of Chile’s Patagonia region with no services for this stretch of our journey. The day starts easy over the first 20km before we hit two big climbs that will take us onto an escarpment. Our route passes close to Lago Vargas and Lago Cisnes, two beautiful lakes on route to Villa O’ Higgins. Although this is the end of the official Carretera Austral route, our journey continues with more adventure ahead.



Villa O’Higgins – Lago Desierto

Today’s Ride:

8km / Gravel road / 3hr ferry / 21km technical single track & hike a bike / Camping


We take a short ride from Villa O’ Higgins to the ferry for a 3 hour crossing from From Lago O’Higgins to Candelario Mansilla. It is optional to extend the ferry ride and pass close to the O’Higgens glacier. Shortly after Candelario Mansilla we reach the Chilean border. We get our passports stamped as we proceed towards the Argentina border. From here we have 21km single track with various hike-a-bike sections. The track leads down to Lago del Desierto and the Argentinian border control. There are no roads in this area and it is not possible to cross the border by car. A testing, but surely unique experience as we cross from Chile to Argentina.



Lago Deserto – Chalten

Today’s Ride:

36km / Gravel roads / 3 hrs / 45min ferry / 3 hrs / Hotel or Cabana


We ferry across Lago del Desierto. Disembarking from the ferry, we jump back on the bikes for our victory ride down the valley, past the foot hills of the famous Mt Fitz Roy massive and on to the mountain village of El Chalten that is situated in the Santa Cruz province of Argentina.



El Chalten

Hotel or Cabana


We spend the day exploring El Chalten or going for a hike in the national park. A potential day to resolve logistical challenges that might arise during the expedition.



Chalten – El Calafate – Perito Moreno Glacier

Hotel or Cabana


Transfer to El Calefate. An excursion to Los Glaciares National Park, home to the massive Perito Moreno Glacier.



Flights out


Departure Flight out from El Calefate


  • Southern Carretera Austral guided, self supported expedition
  • Transfer on Day 1 from Balmaceda Airport to Coyhaique, Chile (45 min)
  • Transfer on Day 13 from El Chalten to El Calefate (3 hours)
  • Group Transfer to El Calefate Airport
  • 2 Qualified and experienced guides (English and Spanish)
  • Ferry fees as on Day 8, 10 & 11 of the itinerary
  • Accommodation in hotel, guesthouse or cabanas as per the itinerary
  • Camping as per the itinerary
  • Meals: Welcome dinner on day 1 and celebration dinner on day 13
  • Tamango National Park entrance
  • Marble Cathedral excursion
  • Access and permit fees
  • Onbike apparel worth $160



  • International & domestic flights
  • Travel and medical insurance (insurance recommended)
  • Any cost associated with early departure or evacuation
  • Meals not specified in itinerary (Budget of $ 30-40 per day recommended for restaurants and communal food contribution when camping)
  • Alcoholic & non-alcoholic beverages
  • Mountain bike, personal camping equipment, bikepacking equipment
  • Bike specific repair parts
  • Spending money for personal items, curios and extras
  • Additional adventure activities
  • Gratuities
  • Any cost outside the itinerary