Fernando Diez
Written by Fernando Diez Marketing Director at Quasar Expeditions

Updated: May 06, 2024
Published: October 10, 2016

  • Twitter
CPatagonia Jeep Overland Safaris

Does over 1,200km of dirt roads through unspoiled wilderness of glacial rivers, snowcapped peaks, fjords and impenetrable forests sound like your kind of once in a lifetime adventure? If so, the Carretera Austral is for you!

While the diverse and untouched landscape of Chile’s route 7 has captured the hearts of many intrepid travelers, the Carretera Austral is full of surprising secrets that only compel people to explore Patagonia even more...

1.) The Naming of Patagonia

It’s thought that Patagonia was named so after the mysterious Patagones people. Early explorers reported large human footprints and, as such, named the country, the land of the big feet.

Wild Horses in Patagonia

2.) The Land of Giants

Spanish explorers claimed that the Patagonian people were at least twice the height of normal humans, leading to the belief that Patagonia was a land of giants. It’s now believed that they were simply exaggerating the size difference between the short Spaniards and tall natives.

The Land of Giants in Patagonia

3.) The Patagonian Dragon

The glaciers and ice fields of the Aysen and Magallanes regions are home to the Patagonian Dragon. With a body made from a natural antifreeze, it lives where other insects can’t, feeding on icy bacteria and algae.

Patagonian Dragon found living in glaciers

4.) The Strangest Dinosaurs Ever Discovered

The Chilesaurus diegosuarezi was discovered near Lake General Carrera and has features from all three main groups of dinosaurs. It was thought to have descended from T. Rex and strangely evolved to be a herbivore.

Prehistoric Patagonia, a hotspot for finding dinosaurs

5.) The Deepest Lake in the Americas

At the end of the Carretera Austral is Lake O’Higgins. At 836m, it’s the deepest lake in the Americas and the fifth deepest in the world. The gorgeous turquoise color comes from glacial sediment at its southern end.

Deepest lake in the Americas, Lake Ohiggins in Patagonia

6.) The Name’s Confuse Everyone!

Arrive at Puerto Aysén expecting a quaint port village and you won’t find it! This port town is now unsuitable for large boats and ships after river sediment made the water too shallow. The same goes for Caleta Tortel (Tortel Cove), where visitors often arrive eager to feast on fresh fish but the economy is actually driven by Cypress wood extraction.

Old wooden building in Patagonia

7.) See 8000-Year-Old Rock Art

The basin of Lake General Carrera is full of archaeological paintings depicting traditional hunting methods, handprints and native animals.

Earlyman rock art found in Patagonia

8.) Search for the Golden City

The mythical ‘City of the Caesars’ is apparently located somewhere along the Carretera Austral. Legend has it that the town was a utopia of perfect health and abundant food, filled with golden furniture and beautiful people.

Search for the Golden City in Patagonia

9.) Friendship Island

Friendship Island, off Patagonia’s south western coast, became known in 1985 after claims that Nordic-looking aliens healed a man of cancer and mystery still abounds!

Friendship Island in Patagonia

10.) Experience the Legacy of Father Ronchi

The beloved and self-proclaimed ‘radical priest’ Father Ronchi’s works can be seen throughout the Aysén region. He was responsible for building towns, schools, and wind turbines to bring electricity to remote regions. Legend has it that he pulled food for the needy from his miraculous cassock. Below is an image of Father Ronchi's chapel in Villa O'Higgins in Chile.

Father Ronchi

Discover Chile, the Quasar way! Private Tours to Easter Island, Santiago, Wine County, Atacama & Patagonia available now with our> Chile Travel Packages.

Fernando Diez
By Fernando Diez
Marketing Director at Quasar Expeditions

Hi, I am Fernando and travel is my passion. This passion began with my first trip to the Galapagos Islands in 1986 and later became my work when I started working at Quasar Expeditions. Now the Marketing Director for Quasar and responsible for the creation of the Patagonia Project in Chile, my passion for travel continues to grow to new and exciting destinations in South America.


One comment

  • A very awesome blog post. We are really grateful for your blog post. You will find a lot of approaches after visiting your post. Thanks for such post and please keep it up. Great work.