By Ferry and Catamaran
From Puerto Montt south through the Aisén and Magallanes regions, lacustrine and maritime transportation links gaps in the highway network. Even in the Sur Chico, ferries on finger lakes such as Lago Pirehueico and Lago Todos los Santos (passengers only) form part of routes to Argentina.
Navimag Ferries (Av. El Bosque Norte 0440, 11th floor, Las Condes, Santiago, tel. 02/4423120, fax 02/2035025, www.navimag.cl) and Naviera Austral (Av. Angelmó 2187, Puerto Montt, tel. 065/270400, www.navieraustral.cl) operate ferries from Puerto Montt to Chaitén and Puerto Chacabuco. Navimag continues to the ice fields of Parque Nacional Laguna San Rafael, a route also traveled by the tourist cruise ship Skorpios and the luxury passenger catamarans Chaitén, Iceberg Expedition, and Patagonia Connection.
Navimag’s ferries Puerto Edén and Magallanes connect Puerto Montt with, respectively, Puerto Chacabuco (an overnight trip) and Puerto Natales (a three-day journey through the scenic fjords of Aisén and northern Magallanes).
Transmarchilay also runs a shuttle ferry across the mouth of the Reloncaví estuary, from La Arena to Puelche, about 45 kilometers southeast of Puerto Montt. The village of Hornopirén, 60 kilometers farther southeast, is the port for Naviera Austral’s summer-only ferry to Caleta Gonzalo, the gateway to Chaitén and the Carretera Austral.
Mar del Sur sails the Pilchero from the Aisén village of Puerto Ingeniero Ibáñez, on Lago General Carrera’s north shore, to the south shore border town of Chile Chico; Chile Chico is also accessible by a road around the lake, but the ferry is faster and cheaper than driving.
In Magallanes, a daily ferry crosses the Strait of Magellan from Punta Arenas to Porvenir, in Chilean Tierra del Fuego; a more frequent shuttle ferry crosses the strait from Primera Angostura, northwest of Punta Arenas.
© Wayne Bernhardson from Moon Chile, 2nd edition