Carretera Austral Key Ferries

by | Jun 28, 2024 | Blog, Ferries along Carretera Austral | 0 comments

The Carretera Austral in Chile is renowned for its stunning landscapes and challenging terrain, making it a popular route for travelers seeking adventure and natural beauty.

Along this route, Key Ferries play a crucial role in connecting segments of the road that are interrupted by fjords, lakes, and rivers. These ferries are essential for both locals and tourists, providing access to remote areas and enhancing the experience of traveling through this rugged terrain.

These are some of the Carretera Austral Key Ferries you will find along the Carretera Austral:                                                    

Hornopirén – Caleta Gonzalo:

The “Ferry Bimodal” refers to a unique transport service that combines road and ferry travel to connect the remote southern section of the highway. This service is specifically used to cross the challenging terrain between Puerto Yungay and Caleta Gonzalo, where traditional road access is not feasible due to the rugged landscape and the absence of a continuous road network.

Near the beginning of the Carretera Austral, the ferry between Hornopirén and Caleta Gonzalo crosses the Comau Fjord. This ferry is crucial for travelers heading south from Puerto Montt towards the heart of the Carretera Austral. You will find this ferry approximately 3 hours and 45 minutes from Puerto Montt – The navigation time is approximately 3 hours and 30 minutes to Leptepu.



South trip
Set sail
North trip
Set sail
Hornopirén to Caleta Gonzalo
10:00 hrs.
Caleta Gonzalo to Hornopirén
13:00 hrs.


Bicycles with driver (2)

HORNOPIREN TO CALETA GONZALO – THE BIMODAL FERRY. The term “bimodal” indicates the combination of different transport modes—specifically, road (you will need to ride your bike between Leptepu and Fiordo Largo, then take the second section of the ferry).

It’s very important to check schedules in advance, book this ferry at least 30 days before AS IT IS ALWAYS FULL IN HIGH SEASON.

Crossing the Comau Fjord via the Bimodal Ferry, offers travelers stunning views of the fjord’s dramatic landscape, surrounded by lush forests and snow-capped peaks typical of Chilean Patagonia. It adds a unique element of adventure to the journey.

You should plan your itinerary with the Ferry Bimodal in mind, considering potential waiting times at the ferry terminal and ensuring you have enough time to reach the next destination. It’s also wise to have flexibility in travel plans, as weather conditions can occasionally affect ferry operations.

Puerto Montt – Chaitén

Caleta La Arena – Caleta Puelche

Prices vary based on the type of vehicle and number of passengers. Generally, fees are reasonable and reflect the short duration of the crossing.

Bicycles $3.030 CLP   People: It has no cost.

This will be the first ferry you will take for your trip, (unless you have decided to take the ferry from Puerto Montt to Chaitén, but if thats your case, you will miss part of Carretera Austral) .

It crosses the Reloncaví Estuary, connecting Caleta La Arena, located about 45 kilometers southwest of Puerto Montt, to Caleta Puelche on the southern shore.
It serves as a crucial link for vehicles and passengers traveling along the Carretera Austral.

The ferry service is operated by several companies, ensuring frequent crossings throughout the day. Ferries usually run multiple times daily, with more frequent crossings during peak travel seasons. The exact schedule can vary, so it’s advisable to check current timetables closer to your travel date.
The crossing takes approximately 30 minutes, depending on weather and sea conditions.

Puerto Montt – Chaitén

Chaitén – Puerto Montt$19.200$11.310
Ayacara – Pto Montt
Ayacara – Chaitén


This ferry connects Puerto Montt (km 0 of Carretera Austral), a major port city in southern Chile, with Chaitén, one of the gateways to the Carretera Austral.

It crosses the Reloncaví Fjord and can accommodate both passengers and vehicles, facilitating the start of the journey along the Carretera Austral.



The ferry departs from Puerto Montt, and crosses the Reloncaví fjord, a significant body of water that separates the mainland from the beginning of the Carretera Austral.

The journey takes around 6 to 8 hours, depending on weather conditions. It’s important to check the ferry schedule in advance and plan accordingly, as departures can be affected by factors such as wind and waves.

The ferry service is operated by Naviera Austral and provides passengers with stunning views of the surrounding landscapes, including lush green hills, snow-capped mountains in the distance, and the vast expanse of the fjord itself. 

You should book tickets in advance during peak seasons (summer) to secure a spot, as the ferry can fill up quickly. It’s also recommended to arrive at the terminal with sufficient time before departure to complete boarding procedures.

Pichicolo to Caleta Gonzalo

This ferry operates between Pichicolo and Caleta Gonzalo, two points situated on opposite sides of the Comau Fjord, Pichicolo is located on the western side, while Caleta Gonzalo is on the eastern side of the fjord.

The Comau Fjord presents a significant geographic barrier along the Carretera Austral, where there is no continuous road network. Therefore, the ferry service is essential for connecting these two points.

The ferry service is operated by Naviera Austral, it accommodates both passengers and bikes, making it a very convenient option if the ferry from Hornopiren to Caleta Gonzalo(Bimodal) is overbooked in high season, this will be your plan B, you  will need to arrive to Pichicolo on your bike.

PICHICOLO TO CALETA GONZALO: This ferry journey takes approximately 30 to 45 minutes, depending on weather conditions and demand. Travelers should check the ferry schedule in advance and plan their itinerary accordingly, as schedules can vary. It’s advisable to arrive at the ferry terminal with sufficient time before departure, especially during peak travel seasons. Have flexibility on your  travel plans and be prepared for potential weather-related delays.

Puerto Yungay – Río Bravo 

 You need this one to arrive to Villa O’Higgins:

At the southernmost tip of the Carretera Austral, this ferry crosses Lake O’Higgins, connecting the small town of Villa O’Higgins with the rest of the route. It’s an essential link for travelers reaching the end of the road in Patagonia.

The trip lasts 1 hour, navigating the beautiful waters of the Rio Grande and Mitchell Fjord.

The ferry is free and no prior reservation is required.

It has frequencies to Villa O’higgins during the summer at 10:00 a.m., 12:00 p.m., 3:00 p.m. and 6:00 p.m. And to the north the frequencies are 11:00 a.m., 1:00 p.m., 4:00 p.m. and 7:00 p.m.

It transports people and vehicles between Puerto Yungay on the north bank of the fjord and Río Bravo on the south bank, allowing you to reach Villa O’Higgins at the southern end of the Carretera Austral. The crossing takes 45 minutes.


The barge is named after missionary Father Antonio Ronchi, and unites two segments of the Carretera Austral separated by an arm of the sea called Mitchell Fjord.

Villa O’Higgins (Puerto Bahamondes) – Candelario Mancilla.

Many backpackers make this trip with the goal of reaching El Chaltén, Argentina.

To do this, you must begin the trip from Puerto Bahamondes (7 km from Villa O’higgins), navigating the beautiful Lake O’higgins with southern landscapes and with little human intervention until you reach Puerto Candelario Mancilla.

This trip lasts 1 and a half hours in favorable conditions for navigation.

This tour is for passengers only and vehicles are not allowed.

On the other hand, the trip does not end there, since from Candelario Mancilla the trekking begins to reach El Chaltén, crossing the Laguna del Desierto via ferry.

The time of this entire route is 2 days and 1 night.

Each Key Ferry along the Carretera Austral offers its own unique experience, from crossing picturesque fjords to navigating vast lakes surrounded by pristine wilderness. These crossings not only provide practical transportation solutions but also contribute to the allure and adventure of traveling this remote and stunning route in Chilean Patagonia.

Travelers should be aware of schedules, which can be affected by weather conditions and seasonal variations, and plan accordingly to make the most of their journey along the Carretera Austral.