The Carretera Austral highway provides access to some of Chile's remotest areas, which were virtually inaccessible before its completion in the 1990s. Much of it is unpaved, ripio road, and because of this it has rapidly become known as a legendary motorcycle and overland tour route.
The Carretera Austral - or Southern Highway - winds its way from Puerto Montt to Villa O'Higgins, via Coyhaique, a total distance of around 1,200 kilometres. Along the way it passes through some simply stunning Patagonian landscapes, with branch roads into the surrounding fjords, alpine forests and mountains, and across the border into Argentina. Spanning the border is Lake General Carrera, the deepest lake in South America and second only in size to Lake Titicaca. The Argentine side is known as Lake Buenos Aires, and there are some good trekking routes on both sides of the lake.
Parque Nacional Laguna San Rafael is another notable natural attraction on the Carretera Austral. This UN World Biosphere Reserve is home to pumas, foxes, dolphins and sea birds, and there are scenic walking trails to the rapidly receding, but beautiful San Rafael Glacier.