The first part, or the northern start point, of the Carretera Austral is at Puerto Montt or Puerto Varas, both of which are in the southern part of the Chilean Lake Region.
The Lake Region (or Provence) extends south to just above La Junta. Once past this “imaginary line” the route enters the Aysen Region.
Destinations in the Aysen Region
The Aysen sector of the Carretera Austral includes one of the largest expanses of channels and fiords on Earth. In a straight line, start to end, it covers 1,000km, however, the total coastline of the numerous islands, inlets and fjords, if measured and added together, would be more than 84,000km.
If you had the patience to count, there are over 5,500 islands in this part of Chilean Patagonia, the vast majority totally uninhabited by man.
This incredible archipelago, fiords and valleys were crafted from numerous ice ages. Constant snow falls created huge glaciers that slowly came down from the mountains carving out the rock as they did so and leaving behind valleys. Think of Antarctica today, with its ice shelf measuring kms in height!
Then, added to this mix was the shifting of the tectonic plates that caused land to go up, but also down; volcanic eruptions, and flooding from the Pacific Ocean into the lower land areas.
And, if that was not enough, the receding glaciers and snow melted to form rivers and lakes, together with abundant rain fall creating numerous more rivers all flowing quickly into the sea.
This combination has resulted in, today, a beautiful eco system and dramatic landscape, full of natural richness.
Destinations in the Lake Region
The Carretera Austral that passes through the southern sector of the Chilean lake region tends to enjoy scenery of snow-covered, conical volcanoes, lakes, green, forested hill sides, fjords and channels.