For those with a sense of adventure (and a little patience!), the undiscovered Aisen region of Northern Patagonia is Chile’s hidden gem. With a fraction of the visitor numbers that pass through southern Torres del Paine, the area is overflowing with untouched landscapes including mystical fjords and glaciers, azure lakes and imposing mountain ranges dusted with a covering of snow. The largely unpaved road of the Carretera Austral stretches through the region for 1200km, making a stint on this route the perfect way to experience the diversity of the area.
The southern section of the Carretera Austral is accessed via the tiny Balmaceda Airport, which is one of the most untouched and dramatic regions of the route. Notable destinations south of Balmaceda include the bewildering Marble Caves, fast-receding San Rafael Glacier and vast swathes of protected national parks, many of which are home to roaming guanaco and elegant colonies of flamingo. A key piece of advice for those visiting this region is to take plenty of cash and fill up on petrol whenever you can, as there are no ATMs and garages are few and far between.