Coyhaique is the capital of the region and the only city you’re going to encounter on the Carretera Austral, so get all the Chilean pesos you are going to need (as there won’t be many options) or buy the equipment youre missing. The city has outdoor stores, supermarkets, restaurants, banks, souvenir shops, and even some pubs. Do you plan to rent a car? Make your deal in Coyhaique!
Visit the Coyhaique National Reserve (about 5km from the city) where you can do a wonderful day hike up to the top of the Cerro Cinchao with its moonlike landscape and a magnificent 360 degree view. Coyhaique’s area is also a great place to go mountain biking and its a top spot for rock climbing, with several amazing walls nearby for all levels!
The Río Simpson National Reserve is located along the road to Puerto Aysén and Puerto Chacabuco. The river is flanked by dramatic rock formations and is known for kayak descents, summer bathing and top-class fishing.
66km from Coyhaique to the west you’ll reach the second biggest place of the area, Puerto Aysén. You’ll be surprised of the beauty of the surrounding area with its picturesque rivers and lakes, virgin green forest and stunning fjords. Kayaking on the Aysén River and the Los Palos Lake, and boating the fjords are definitely highlights of the trip and there are many trails to tackle by mountain bike or on foot, like at the Aiken Park, a 220-hectare reserve on the shores of Riesco Lake. 14km away is Puerto Chacabuco where the ferry arrives from Puerto Montt (www.navimag.com) or where you could hop on the off-the-beaten-track ”Ruta Cordillera” ferry (www.navieraustral.cl) which stops in different remote (island) villages along the coastal area of the Carretera Austral and ends in Chiloé.