Driving in Patagonia: The Ultimate Road Trip Experience
Patagonia is one of the most enchanting regions in the world. Its vast wilderness, rugged landscapes, and natural wonders make it an ideal destination for adventure seekers. Driving in Patagonia is an experience unlike any other. The region’s vastness and remoteness add to the thrill of the journey, making it an unforgettable road trip. In this blog post, we will explore the best road trips in Patagonia, highlighting the distances, climate, attractions, and road conditions. So buckle up, and let’s start our journey.
Best Road Trips in Patagonia
Probably THE ROUTE in Argentina to drive by; Ruta 40 is one of the most iconic and scenic routes in Patagonia. It spans over 5,000 kilometers, starting from Cabo Virgenes in the south (the famous “km 0”) and ending at La Quiaca in the north.
Even though the central and northern sections have an outstanding beauty (including Mendoza, San Juan, La Rioja, Catamarca, Salta, and Jujuy), the southern section of Ruta 40 is probably the most popular among travelers. It offers stunning vistas and attractions. The road trip from San Martin de los Andes to Cabo Virgenes takes about two weeks, depending on the number of stops and detours.
Ruta 40 in Patagonia
The route passes through the District of the Lakes, where you can find some of the most beautiful lakes in Patagonia. The region is a paradise for nature lovers, with hiking trails, fishing spots, and bird watching opportunities. Another highlight of Ruta 40 is the Bosque Petrificado de Sarmiento, a petrified forest that dates back to the Jurassic period.
Posta Los Toldos and Cañadón Rio Pinturas with Cueva de las Manos are other must-see attractions along the route. The former is a remote outpost that offers stunning views of the surrounding mountains, while the latter is an archaeological site that features cave paintings dating back thousands of years.
If you continue down south and make a detour to the west, you will reach El Chaltén, which lies at the feet of Mounts Fitz Roy & Torre and is the capital for trekking in Argentina.
One of the most iconic attractions near Ruta 40, is the famous Glacier Perito Moreno, in El Calafate.
The road trip ends at Cabo Virgenes, the southernmost point of mainland Argentina.
Ruta 40 self drive tours
You can drive through this road in one same trip (it would take you around 45 days – 2 months) or do it in parts. As a kick off, we invite you to explore our Ruta 40 Argentina Road Trip
Most of the self-drive tours we offer are in traditional vehicles or 4×4, but if you like motorbikes, we can also help you! We invite you to check our Patagonia Motorcycle tour.
Ruta 41 is a lesser-known route in the province of Santa Cruz, which includes attractions such as Monte Zeballos, Los Antiguos, Lago Posadas, and Lago Pueyrredón. One of the the highlights of this route is the arrival to Lago Pueyrredón, a pristine lake that is surrounded by snow-capped mountains that´s situated alongside the border with Chile where this lake is known as Lago Cochrane.
Camino de los 7 Lagos
If you’re looking for a scenic drive in the lake district, the “Camino de los Siete Lagos” (Seven Lakes Route) is a must-do. This famous route takes you through some of the most beautiful landscapes in northern Argentinian Patagonia connecting the towns of San Martin de los Andes and Villa La Angostura. Along the way, you’ll pass by seven stunning glacial lakes: Lago Correntoso, Lago Machónico, Lago Espejo, Lago Hermoso, Lago Falkner, Lago Villarino, and Lago Lacar. You can stop at several viewpoints along the way, and there are plenty of opportunities for hiking and other outdoor activities. The route is easily accessible by car, and it’s a great way to experience the beauty of Patagonia at your own pace.
In our Puerto Madryn & Bariloche road trip, you will find a fantastic itinerary that includes not only the 7 Lakes Road, but also other attractions such as Peninsula Valdes and Los Alerces National Park – among other beautiful places.
Ruta 3 is the longest road in the Atlantic Litoral of Argentina, spanning over 3,000 kilometers from Buenos Aires to Ushuaia. The road trip can be divided into three parts (or done all at once), each offering a unique Patagonian experience.
The first part of the route passes through the Peninsula Valdes and Puerto Madryn, two of the most popular tourist destinations in Patagonia. The region is known worldwide for its marine wildlife, including whales, dolphins, penguins, and sea lions.
The second part of the route passes through the Santa Cruz province, offering stunning views of the Patagonian steppe. The region is dotted with remote towns and natural wonders, such as the Parque Nacional Bosques Petrificados de Jaramillo (Petrified Forest of Jaramillo) and the Parque Nacional Monte León.
Tierra del Fuego
The final part of Ruta 3 is in Tierra del Fuego, the southernmost province of Argentina. The road trip passes through Rio Gallegos, Rio Grande, and ends in Ushuaia, the southernmost city in the world which you can only access after crossing the Strait of Magellan by ferry and driving a few kilometers through Chile.
We offer a self-drive tour from El Calafate to Ushuaia, that allows you to combine Ruta 3, Ruta 40 and Torres del Paine (Chile): El Calafate to Ushuaia drive tour.
Carretera Austral in Chile
The Carretera Austral Road Trip in Chile should also be on your bucket list.
The Carretera Austral is a stunning road trip route that spans over 1,200 kilometers through Chile’s rugged and remote Patagonian region. Driving the Carretera Austral in Chile is an unforgettable adventure. The 1,200 km route winds through some of the most breathtaking scenery in the world, from the lush forests of Pumalín Park to the crystal-clear waters of General Carrera Lake. Along the way, you’ll pass through charming towns like Puerto Montt, Coyhaique, and Puerto Tranquilo, where you can stop and explore local markets, sample delicious seafood, or take a boat tour to see the famous Marble Caves. Be prepared for unpaved roads, narrow bridges, and steep cliffs, but the stunning views and unique experiences make it all worth it.
Is Driving in Patagonia Safe?
Driving in Patagonia is generally safe, but there are a few things to keep in mind. The region is known for its strong winds, which can be challenging for drivers. It is also important to consider that distances are longer in Patagonia, remember to carry extra fuel and supplies, as gas stations and services can be scarce in remote areas.
While Patagonia is generally safe in terms of crime, petty theft can occur. It is important to take precautions, such as parking in well-lit areas and not leaving valuables in plain sight.
Driving in Patagonia is an adventure of a lifetime. The region’s vastness and remoteness make it a unique road trip experience that is hard to forget. From the scenic Ruta 40 to the remote Ruta Provincial 12, Patagonia offers a diverse range of road trips that cater to every traveler’s taste. So pack your bags, fill up your tank, and hit the road. Patagonia is waiting for you.
We offer custom tours in Argentina and Chile, and we invite you to explore our Chile & Argentina Driving Holidays section on this trip.0