Ferries in Patagonia

If you plan to discover the breathtaking landscape of Patagonia by rental car, you have to consider taking ferries: Along the Carretera Austral (Ruta 7), four straits are bridged by ferries. Where the Patagonian ice field prevents overland travel in Chile, a ferry runs from Puerto Yungay to Puerto Natales. Other ferries connect Puerto Montt with various ports in Patagonia and the island of Chiloé with the mainland.

Carretera Austral

The southern highway Carretera Austral was built in the 80s and 90s through the Patagonian wilderness. Nowadays it attracts more and more visitors. The road is interrupted at three locations by fjords, leaving connections only by ferry:

1.     Arena - Puelche

The strait Estuario de Reloncaví is reached 45 kilometres south of Puerto Montt. Between the two ferries La Arena and Caleta Puelche several car ferries commute (roll-on/roll-off) all year round and daily 7.15 to 23.45 hrs., approx. every 20 minutes. The crossing takes about 45 minutes; a car costs about 16 USD. Without reservation, one just has to wait for the next boat. www.taustral.cl

2.     Hornopirén - Caleta Gonzalo

Heading 55 km south of Caleta Puelche you reach the town of Hornopirén. There is a ferry from Hornopirén to Caleta Gonzalo at least once a day all year round and two to three times a day in summer, in two variants: a) as a direct connection via the Golfo de Ancud, and b) as a combined ferry through the fjords: The first boat goes from Hornopirén through the Comau fjord to the ferry pier Leptepu. You then cross a peninsula on 10 km road to the ramp Fiordo Largo, where the second boat is already waiting; it crosses the Reñihue fjord to Caleta Gonzalo, where you continue on Carretera Austral.

The price for both variants is subsidized: approx. 9 USD p. p.,; car approx. 50 USD. In the summer season Naviera Austral offers an additional direct ferry, which is not subsidized and approx. 46 USD more expensive for a vehicle with 2 passengers. We strongly recommend taking a reservation for vehicles, especially during high season (Jan./Feb.)! The online reservation at www.taustral.cl (variant a) or www.somarco.cl (variant b) is only possible with a Chilean credit card.

ContactChile will book the ferry for you: booking fee for rental car customers 45 USD, any other 57 USD (depending on the weekly updated exchange rate of ContactChile Ltda.).

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Timetables summer 2018-19

North -> South
Off HornopirénTo Caleta Gonzalo
9am1.30pmTransportes Austral, not subsidized
10.30am4pmSomarco, subsidized
3pm7.30pmTransportes Austral, subsidized
South -> North
Off Caleta GonzaloTo Hornopirén
9am1.30pmTransportes Austral, subsidized
1pm6.30pmSomarco, subsidized
3pm7.30pmTransportes Austral, not subsidized

Drivers will have to arrive at the pier one hour before departure (despite reservation). All timetables are weather-dependent and subject to delays and cancellations.

3.     Puerto Yungay - Río Bravo

930 km south of Caleta Gonzalo the Carretera Austral is interrupted again. From Puerto Yungay a ferry runs three times a day (10, 12 and 17 hrs) across the Mitchell Fjord to Río Bravo, from where the last section of the Carretera leads to Villa O'Higgins. Duration: 35 minutes, in the opposite direction at 11, 13 and 19 hrs. This ferry is free of charge and cannot be reserved. The ship is relatively small, but will run again if there was not enough space for all cars.

In Puerto Yungay there is also a ferry that runs once a week to Puerto Natales in southern Patagonia (see below).

Ferries off Puerto Montt

Puerto Montt - Chaitén

The first sections of the Carretera Austral can also be bridged by direct ferry from Puerto Montt to Chaitén. The ship Jacaf operates three times a week all year round. The passengers are seated in bus seats (no cabins), there are small snacks. The ferry makes a stopover in Ayacara.

Puerto Montt - Chaitén
OrganizerNaviera Austral
ShipJacaf
Seasonall year
Travel daysoff Puerto Montt Monday, Thursday and Friday at 11pm, off Chaitén Thursday 11am, Friday 10am, Sunday 11.50pm
Duration9 hours
Capacity250 passengers, 55 cars
Pricesapprox. 25  USD per person; car: approx. 140 USD

Depending on weather conditions. www.navieraustral.cl/rutas/ruta-chaiten

Puerto Montt - Puerto Chacabuco

Until further notice, the Navimag ferry will no longer operate on this route (as of December 2018).

Ferries off Quellón (Island of Chiloé)

Two ferries connect the island of Chiloé with various locations along the Carretera Austral.

Quellón - Chaitén

Between Quellón and Chaitén the ship Jacaf operates twice a week. The crossing takes 4 hours. Passengers are seated in bus seats (no cabins) and snacks are served.

Quellón - Chaitén
OrganizerNaviera Austral
ShipJacaf
Seasonall year
Travel daysoff Quellón Sounday 6.30pm, Thursday 3am; off Chaitén Tuesday and Saturday 10am
Duration4 hours
Capacity250 passengers, 55 cars
Pricesapprox. 20 USD per person; car:  approx. 120 USD

Depending on weather conditions. www.navieraustral.cl/rutas/ruta-chiloe

Quellón - Puerto Cisnes

The ship Jacaf also runs the route Quellón - Melinka - Puerto Cisnes. With some luck you can observe whales in the Golfo de Corcovado.

Quellón - Puerto Cisnes
OrganizerNaviera Austral
ShipJacaf
Seasonall year
Travel daysoff Quellón Tuesday 7pm and Saturday 5pm; off Cisnes Wednesday 12pm and Sunday 6am
Duration12 hours
Capacity250 passengers, 55 cars
Pricesapprox. 17 USD per person; car: approx. 126 USD

Depending on weather conditions. www.navieraustral.cl/rutas/ruta-cordillea-corta

Quellón - Chacabuco

The ship "Queulat" departs twice a week from Quellón to Puerto Chacabuco. The journey takes 31 hours, as the ship stops at eight small harbours on its way; most of which are only accessible by sea: Melinka - Raúl Marín Balmaceda - Santo Domingo - Melimoyu - Puerto Gala - Puerto Cisnes - Puerto Gaviota and Puerto Aguirre. You will get a good insight into the everyday life of these isolated fishing villages. With a little luck, one can observe whales in the Golfo de Corcovado.

Quellón - Chacabuco
OrganizerNaviera Austral
ShipQueulat
Seasonall year
Travel daysoff Quellón Wednesday and Saturday 11pm; off Chacabuco Monday 8pm and Friday 12pm
Duration31 hours
Capacity285 passengers, 55 cars
Pricesapprox. 26 USD per person; car: approx. 222 USD

Depending on weather conditions. www.navieraustral.cl/rutas/ruta-cordillera

Puerto Yungay - Puerto Natales

The onward journey from the Carretera Austral to Magallanes, i.e. to the southernmost part of the country, is without the detour via Argentina only possible by the ship connection opened in 2016 from Puerto Yungay via Tortel and Puerto Edén to Puerto Natales. The route passes through a labyrinth of canals on the west side of the Patagonian inland ice, if you are lucky you can catch a glimpse of the glaciers. The ship has adjustable seats similar to a sleeping bus (no cabins), meals are included.

Puerto Yungay - Puerto Natales
OrganizerTabsa
ShipCrux Australis
Seasonall year
Timetable North -> South during summer weekly; off Puerto Yungay Saturday 8pm, off Caleta Tortel (pedestrians only) 11pm, arrival in Puerto Natales Monday about 4pm
Timetable South -> Northduring summer weekly; off Puerto Natales Thursday 5am, at Caleta Tortel (pedestrians only) Friday 10pm, arrival in Puerto Yungay Saturday 1am
Duration44 hours
Capacity142 passengers; 24 cars
PricesForeigners approx. 200 USD, children up to 12 years and seniors 32 USD, bicycles 16 USD, car 57 USD

Depending on weather conditions. www.tabsa.cl

All ferries can be booked through ContactChile, reservation fee for rental car customers 45 USD, otherwise 57 USD (depending on the weekly updated exchange rate of ContactChile Ltda.).

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