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Carretera Austral ahead: 1200km hitchhiking through South America!

Laguna Sucia near El Chaltén - my starting point for the Carretera
Laguna Sucia near El Chaltén - my starting point for the Carretera

The Ruta 7 connects the most remote villages of Chile and is one of the most picturesque routes of South America. I decided to skip my plans and go hitchhiking through South America: from 12 of march I'll go from Villa O'Higgins to Puerto Montt by thumb.

Actually I decided to go back into the center of the city. To the office of the bus company that offers regularly connections to El Calafate. I'm standing here since 2 hours. 2 hours smiling, holding up a sign with my destination, the thumb pointing into the direction of Calafate.

Somehow I'm fed up with covering all the distances down here with long-distance buses – together with other Europeans, US citizens and sometimes local travelers. For sure: it's pretty nice to spend your time traveling with all these fellow travelers. You get a bunch of really good recommendations, you get to know a lot of diverse cultures and characters, have loads of laughs and sometimes you're suffering together (e.g. the dollar exchange rate). After 4 months of traveling in South America I somehow felt like I'am loosing the connection to the countries itself and the people who are living there – in Puerto Natales the idea came to my mind to try hitchhiking.

“Ok, another 20 minutes but then I'll leave” I'm thinking. Smiling drivers who tell you “I'm sorry but I don't have space” or “I'm sorry I'm heading in another dircetion” with gestures keep my mood up. Also the girl who gave my a little armwrist by saying “buena suerte!” and the locals walking by, saying “good luck, amigo” kept me motivated.
Than Jaime stopped right next to me with his family: “Hola Amigo! Quieres ir con nosotros?” – “Claro!” That was in the end very easy, with this I got a direct lift to El Calafate in Argentina. A distance of more than 300 km.

"A dedo" to El Chalten - I needed just 2 lifts for this 280km stretch
“A dedo” to El Chalten – I needed just 2 lifts for this 280km stretch

,a dedo‘ – very common in Patagonia

Hitchhiking is very popular in the south of South America and is one of the common modes of transportation. People like to have somebody to talk to while covering long distances. Moreover you experience what you usually miss out: you get in contact with the locals, their stories und the small and big issues that keep them busy.
Finally I have to use my spanish even though it is less than intermediate. It doesn't matter. After approximately 3 sentences you get told that your spanish is pretty much perfect and you know that it is lie. And soon after that you find yourself talking about the most important topic: football. Colo Colo or Universidad? River or Boca? And of course: Germany has really good players!

This is how I made my way up to El Chaltén the last weeks – around 500 km in Pickups and Jeeps, listening to different life stories. What's next?
In Buenos Aires I already spoke with Richard from Australia about the Carretera Austral as an alternative to the Ruta 40 – the highway which goes north in Argentina. Richard traveled down this light traffic, most graveled road from north to south and told me heaps of nice stories and places to go.

Hitchhiking to El Calafate
nice people that like to give you a lift – this chilean family took me from Puerto Natales to El Calafate

El Chaltén – Villa O‘Higgings in 2 days

The mentioned past hitchhikes have been more or less a joke if you compare them to the upcoming 1300 km. First of all I need to get to the starting / ending point of the Ruta 7: the chilean Villa O'Higgins.
For the record: there is no direct connection to/from El Chaltén – not with the common way of transportation. It will take me 2 days by boat & foot. And it'll be interesting to do a 7h hike with all my luggage, crossing the border from Argentina to Chile.

The end / starting point of the Carretera is like you would expect it to be. There are just a few houses and a gravel road. Here everything will start. I'll try to get my first hitch in the afternoon.
I'm curious and got some good tips for stops in between: Cerro Castillo, Rio Tranquillo, Futaleufu to mention only a few possibilities.

Now I have to buy pasta, pack my backpack, dry my tent – as soon as I found a proper Internet connection I'll send out the first updates: pictures and later on a detailed article about my experience. So make sure to follow me on Instagram, Facebook and Twitter to stay tuned (and checkout the latest pictures from my time in Patagonia meanwhile)!

per Anhalter durch Südamerika heißt meist: große Autos!
per Anhalter durch Südamerika heißt meist: große Autos!

Have you ever traveled the Carretera Austral? Or do you have experience in hitchhiking through South America? Tell us more!

If you have any tips or hints feel free to join the conversation – post a comment below and share your experience!
Moreover you can share this article with your friends on Twitter, Facebook or Google Plus by using the related buttons on the left.

My accommodation in El Calafate and El Chaltén was supported by Hostelbookers.com – together with Traveldudes they help me to show you South America on my #HolaGringo trip.
All the content I provide from my travels is completely my own – this goes for opinions and views as well as for recommendations.


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