Quick and direct? Travel by plane.
There are daily flights from Santiago and Puerto Montt to the Balmaceda Airport, located 57 km southeast of Coyhaique, more or less in the center of the region. You can reserve on-line at www.lan.com or www.skyairline.cl. Balmaceda’s airport is small but has all the important services including an ATM, rental car services (www.traeger.cl), a cafeteria, souvenirs and transfers to Coyhaique and Puerto Aysén. It takes approximately 50 minutes to travel from Balmaceda to Coyhaique via transfer (companies:
www.transfervalencia.cl, www.tranytur.cl, Transfer Velasquez (067) 2250413)
There are also regular daily flights via Aerocord (www.aerocord.cl), from the La Paloma airfield in Puerto Montt, to Melinka, and charter flights to La Junta, Raúl Marín Balmaceda, Puerto Aguirre and Chile Chico. The company uses Twin Otters (19 passengers) and Cessnas (5 to 9 passengers) within their fleet.
Do you want to bring your own vehicle or rent one here? No problem!
Option 1: Over land, from Argentina
One of the most popular overland options for getting to Aysén is through Argentina. Border crossings are open year round and operate from 08:00 to 20:00 during the winter months and from 08:00 to 22:00 hours in summer. You can inform yourself about policies and regulations on the following sites: www.pasosfronterizos.gov.cl, and www.difrol.cl. Here are the basics:
Personal Background Reports (Salvocondutos): All Chileans and permanent residents who want to exit Chile and enter Argentina via one of the smaller border crossings where there are no PDI police presence must obtain a Personal Background Report, (salvoconducto), issued from the PDI offices in Coyhaique within 48 hours of the crossing. Others only need to present their passports and Chilean tourist visas.
International Insurance and Notarized Authorization: You must obtain mandatory international auto insurance that covers damage to third parties. You can do so by internet (Google “auto liability insurance Mercosur” for a number of alternatives). If you are using a rented car, each company has its own policy about taking cars outside the country. Be sure to check in advance! Normally, they will complete and process the paperwork, arrange for the insurance and apply a surcharge to your bill. Remember that your car must have its title up to date with the Chilean Registry of Motor Vehicles and if the vehicle is not yours (including rentals), you must have a notarized authorization providing permission for you to drive it and take it out of the country.
Traveling with minors: If you are going to cross into Argentina with a minor, you’ll need notarized authorization from both parents. If the child is traveling with one parent, you will need notarized authorization from the other parent. It is a good idea to carry more than one original copy of this authorization, in the event that at the border, they retain one for their records.
Duty Control (Pasavante): If the vehicle you are driving originated in the Aysén or Magallanes Regions or from the Province of Palena and it was purchased under the Duty Free Program offered in these areas, you must have a duty control document (pasavante) to be able to remove the car from the area and drive it in the rest of the country or abroad. These documents can be arranged in the Customs office of the originating region; i.e. in Coyhaique for vehicles purchased in the region of Aysén.
Border crossings include:
- Futaleufú: Located 10 km from Futaleufú, in the Lakes Region, 144 km from La Junta, and 56 km from Trevelin, Argentina. Gravel roads.
- Las Pampas - Lago Verde: Located in the town of Lago Verde, 76 km from La Junta, Aysén Region, and 30 kilometers from the town of Río Pico, Argentina. Gravel roads, river crossings.
- Río Frías - Appeleg: Located 50 km from La Tapera, Aysén Region, and 28 km from Village Apeleg Argentina. Gravel roads.
- Pampa Alta (Puesto Viejo): Located 35 km from Villa Ñirehuao, Aysén Region, and 60 km from Río Senguer, Argentina. Gravel roads.
- Coyhaique Alto: Located 50 kilometers from Coyhaique, Aysén Region, and 140 km from Río Mayo, Argentina. Paved and gravel roads.
- Triana: Located 37 kilometers from Coyhaique and 153 km of Río Mayo, Argentina. Gravel road.
- Huemules: Located 10 km from Balmaceda, Aysén Region, and 150 km from Río Mayo, Argentina. Paved roads.
- Ingeniero Ibáñez - Pallavicini: Located 20 km from Puerto Ibáñez, Aysén Region, and 100 km from Perito Moreno, Argentina. Gravel roads.
- Río Jeinimeni: Located 3 km from Chile Chico, Aysén Region, and 63 kilometers from Perito Moreno, Argentina. Gravel roads.
- Roballos: Located 85 km from Cochrane, Aysén Region, and 90 km from Bajo Caracoles, Argentina. Gravel roads.
- Río Mayer, North Shore: Located 20 km from Villa O’Higgins and 90 km from Tucu-Tucu , Argentina. Gravel roads.
- Río Mosco: Located 10 km from Villa O’Higgins and 100 kilometers from the Federica Estancia in Argentina. Back country trails and gravel roads.
- Lagos O’Higgins - San Martin: Located 50 km from Villa O’Higgins and 45 km from El Chalten, Argentina, this crossing is maritime and not apt for vehicles.
- Dos Lagunas - Candelario Mansilla: Located 60 km from Villa O’Higgins and 35 km from El Chalten, Argentina. This crossing is accessed via ferry, crossing O’Higgins Lake, and habilitated for foot traffic. Bikes can be accommodated however, in some sections, it may be necessary to remove pedals and/or portage.
Option 2: Water Access
There are several different options for maritime arrival to the Region of Aysén. Ferries leave from Puerto Montt (www.navimag.cl) and Chiloe (www.navieraustral.cl), with a final destination of Puerto Chacabuco, the main port of the Aysén Region. The route from Puerto Montt caters more to tourists, in contrast to the route from Chiloe which transports both cargo and passengers, thus, the boats are less tourist oriented. Trips require between 24 and 30 hours, and can vary, depending on the weather and water conditions.
The Naviera Austral route also offers connections with intermediate points. They have boats that run from Puerto Montt and Chiloé to different ports within the Lakes Region, or the Region of Los Lagos (Castro, Quellón, Ayacara, Chaiten). From Chaiten you can begin land travel along the Carretera Austral. They also offer the Ruta Cordillera (Mountain Route), with a duration of approximately 30 hours, traveling within the fjords of Aysén and stopping at different villages within the islands and along the coast. The route leaves from the Quellón Port, in Chiloe, and stops in ports in Melinka, Raúl Marín Balmaceda, Santo Domingo, Melimoyu, Puerto Gala, Puerto Cisnes, Puerto Gaviota (Caleta Amparo), Puerto Aguirre and Puerto Chacabuco. You can only offload cars in Quellón, Melinka, Chacabuco and Puerto Cisnes, where there are ramps enabled. Check for itineraries, prices, dates and availability at www.navieraustral.cl.