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Aysén together with the mainland opposite Chiloé have an area of 135,000 square kilometers, or one sixth of continental Chilean territory. But in spite of the area’s great economic potential and its geopolitical importance, its lack of accessibility left this area all but isolated from the rest of the country until the Carretera Austral was completed. The 1,240 kilometer highway links Puerto Montt to the north with Villa O'Higgins at its southern end. Running through Chilean Patagonia, the Carretera Austral is the main overland transport route in Aysén as well as Palena Province in Los Lagos region, connecting these areas with the rest of the country.

Flora and Fauna of the Carretera Austral

The Southern Highway covers large expanses of temperate rainforest, national parks, glaciers, huge ice fields, lagoons, fiords, rivers and lakes.  It is an ideal place for adventure tourism, fishing, trekking, kayaking, extreme sports, rafting and for the observation of flora and fauna in its most natural state.

Along the Carretera Austral you can see floating icebergs, and have the chance to see the most spectacular regional fauna, such as Magellanic penguins, albatross, ducks and sea lions. There are also trails for hiking and horseback riding with almost constant views of glaciers, mountains and volcanoes.

The most outstanding flora includes the giant Alerces, Tepú, Cypress of the Guaitecas, and shrubs. There are also lengas and the leafy green coigües. Wildlife includes several endangered species. The most outstanding birds are the Andean condor, the flamingo, chucao, tiuque, upland geese, bandurrias or black-faced ibis, falcons, humming birds and a wide variety of marine birds such as cormorants, Humboldt penguins, and albatross.

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