March 15 2022

Car or ferry: What's the best way to travel in Patagonia?


Choosing the right means of transport for your trip in Patagonia not only depends on the amount of time you have to travel. Traveling conditions and the costs associated with each option are relevant as well.

There are three ways to get to Puerto Natales. 

1. By Land

It's a 27-hour drive extending 2,140 km between Puerto Montt and Puerto Natales, most of which is through the Argentine national highway (route RN-40) between the Cardenal Samoré Pass, located near the Puyehue National Park, and the Don Guillermo River Pass, before re-entering Chile.

How much does it cost to get to Puerto Natales by car?

When you plan your trip to Patagonia, make sure to consider all the costs of transportation to get the most out of the experience. We've gathered some costs considering a trip between Puerto Montt and Puerto Natales

Costs of traveling to Patagonia by car

If you decide to reach Puerto Natales by car, then there is one item that you must figure out before leaving. Make sure to tune up the vehicle you'll be driving; check for how the combustion process is working, liquid, oil, and lights, and change the tires if they are older than three years. 

In Chile, USD 273 (CLP 220,000) is the average cost to maintain a 4x4 car at the mechanic, the most recommended model for traveling in Patagonia.

Another expense that you cannot ignore is how much you'll spend loading gas. We recommend that you use the Rome2rio website, which gives you price ranges in US dollars that vary according to the vehicle you'll be driving. 

If you drive from Puerto Montt to Puerto Natales, the average gas cost could range between USD 227 and USD 327. However, these prices do not include toll or daily fees if you rent a car. 

We must not forget the tolls. In Argentina and Chile, they are paid in cash, mainly. Given that the journey is through Argentina, the Ruta 0 website says that the costs can amount to approximately USD 224 (ARS 23.540), including tolls.

So, we are talking about spending at least USD 500 - USD 600 in transportation expenses, which is a high figure, although driving a car allows you to stop along the route whenever and wherever you want. Also, you can save money by eating in the car and choosing low-cost accommodations. However, it would help to rest at least one night in Argentina because it's a long drive.

2. By Sea

If you travel by car, bike, or foot, you can take many ferries that sail across Patagonia. These allow passengers and vehicles on board like 4x4, camping cars, motorcycles, bicycles, and heavy machinery.

How much does it cost to travel to Puerto Natales by ferry?

In the case of the Navimag ferry, the ticket price starts at USD 530 if you travel in Cabin A, in quadruple mode; clic here to check the cabin prices!

The ferry trip takes 4 days/3 nights if you travel from Puerto Montt and 4 days/4 nights from Puerto Natales. The rates are the same if you depart from either port, but they could vary if you travel by car, motorcycle, or foot. Your ticket includes full-board, meaning breakfast, lunch, dinner, and all activities aboard.

Why not both?

Now that you are clear about the values involved in either alternative, you can choose between the two!

Better yet, why not mix them up? You can drive down Carretera Austral from Puerto Montt and sail back from Puerto Natales by ferry. That way you can rest and relax as you return from traveling around Patagonia, without having to worry about loading fuel or finding a place to sleep. Also, you’ll be able to observe vibrant wildlife and unique landscapes that only sailing the fjords can offer. We look forward to seeing you on board!

6 requirements to board the Esperanza ferry

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