Off the Grid South America The Outlandish

Commuting through the Fjords | Chile

Fun Things to do in Chile - Naviera Austral Ferry

Backpackers seem to have a shared, irrational decision making process when it comes to transport. Price is the heaviest weighted variable, while important things like time, enjoyment, comfort, and personal space hardly factor in. Weird pillows and snoring bunkmates have crashed our standards for comfort. We’ve slept on train station floors and sacrificed our stomachs to tepid chicken skewers. If a bus is just a bus, then we might as well take the cheapest bus, even if it’s the longest bus.

… or is it just me?

The journey from Patagonia back to Santiago promised to be long journey. A bit of research yielded indirect bus routes, expensive flights, and hitchhiking mishaps, but there was a ferry from Puerto Chacabuco to Quellon that sounded pretty compelling. For just $17,250CLP ($25 USD) the 28 hour ferry ride would serve as transport, accommodation, and a tour through the fjords of Patagonia. Sounds too good to be true, right?

What could easily have been a glorified long distance bus ride turned out to be one of my favorite travel experiences in South America. It was picturesque and even kind of awesome. 

Are you looking for an alternative to bus travel from Patagonia? Here are some photos from the journey with Naviera Austral ferry along with details about booking travel.

More details on Naviera Austral and their ferries at the end of this post!

Cruising the Fjords with Naviera Austral

Naviera Austral Ferry - Exterior


Naviera Austral Ferry - Interior

Naviera Austral Ferry - Interior

Naviera Austral Ferry - Details 
Naviera Austral Ferry - Interior Seats


Naviera Austral Ferry - ViewsNaviera Austral Ferry - Views

Naviera Austral Ferry - Details
Naviera Austral - View off the Back
Naviera Austral Ferry - Views


Naviera Austral Ferry - DetailsNaviera Austral Ferry - Feet off the Front

Naviera Austral Ferry - Details

Naviera Austral Ferry - Exterior Seats
Naviera Austral Ferry - Lunch on Deck

About Naviera Austral

Naviera Austral offers ferry services for passengers, cars, and cargo between Puerto Montt and Patagonia. It makes mainland stops in Puerto Chacabuco, Puerto Cisnes, and Chaíten, but it also stops in tiny towns like Ayacara, Melimoyo, Melinka, Puerto Aguirre, Puerto Gala, Puerto Gaviota, Raul Marin Balmaceda, and Santo Domingo. The cost of the ferry from Puerto Chacabuco to Quellon $17,250CLP ($25 USD) (2017)

The Boats: Naviera Austral operates two barges – the Queulat and the Jacaf – that seat between 245-286 passengers. The boats really are slow (cruising at around 12 knots) but as you’re cruising through the fjords, the journey is good enough to warrant the 20+ hours onboard. The ferry departs twice a week from most ports.

Sleep: The seats are comfortable and recline much like semi-cama bus seats. Your luggage will go into storage, so if you’re traveling with a sleeping bag or pillow, you’ll definitely want to bring it to your seat. During the journey, you’re free to walk around and sit outside on the deck. The perks of traveling in low season are that you may end up with a whole row to yourself. Before embarking from Puerto Chacabuco, you might consider staying the night in Coyhaique.

Eat: You’ll want to go shopping before your ferry ride to stock up on food. There is a cafeteria onboard with simple things – cakes, empanadas, cookies, etc – but you’ll only want to eat here as a backup plan. The staff will give you hot water for free, but you have to pay if you don’t have your own cup. The tap water onboard is potable, but it doesn’t taste great so you might also want to bring your own. Alcohol isn’t permitted on board, but we may have brought along 3L of wine and we may recommend that you do the same.


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Looking for a cheap way to travel Chile and experience Patagonia? Here's what to expect when you take the ferry through fjords with Naviera Austral.

Have you ever taken a method of transport that was better than expected? Share it with us in the comments below!


  • Reply
    November 26, 2017 at 3:53 pm

    Hello! thanks to your post I already booked my trip with naviera austral! On the same way as you, to Quellon. But I really can’t find information how long lasts the journey? I see for you it was very long, but it seems like in some days it’s longer, in some shorter trip. How did you know how long will you sail? I don’t speak spanish so it’s also harder for me to look for information… 😉

    • Reply
      Taylor Record
      November 26, 2017 at 8:35 pm

      Hi Marta! The website isn’t very helpful. Are you going from Puerto Chacabuco to Quellon too? Our ride was 28 hours, but this varies slightly depending on which day of the week you depart. If you’d like, you can email the itinerary to and I’ll see if I can figure it out for you!

  • Reply
    Preston Rhone
    August 10, 2018 at 5:33 pm

    Hey Taylor! This looks pretty awesome. We are looking at possibly going the other way, from Puerto Montt to Puerto Chacabuco, then somehow getting from Chacabuco to Puerto Natales. Have you heard what its like getting deeper into Patagonia from Puerto Chacabuco? Also, you mention staying the night somewhere…is this hop-on hop-off or would it just be separate tickets? I am digging for more info on their site now. Thanks for writing about this, I am using your information on Torres Del Paine to plan that trip as well!

    • Reply
      Taylor Record
      August 23, 2018 at 2:45 pm

      Hi Preston. It was pretty awesome! Funny enough, I did that journey in reverse! You can go Puerto Chacabuco > Aysen > Coyhaique > Puerto Natales by bus. Can you tell me more about what you’re thinking for the overnight? We slept on the ferry (in upright seats), but if you wanted to get off, I imagine you’d need separate tickets. So glad you’re finding the info helpful, and hope you enjoy your trip!

  • Reply
    January 22, 2019 at 7:47 pm

    Hi! Thanks for posting this – I want to get this ferry next week (Friday 1st Feb) but I can’t find a lot of info online about buses/transport to Puerto Chacabuco and I’m not sure I have enough time to get there (arriving in Los Antiguos morning 29th and want to visit Capilla de Marmol en route). What’s the best way of figuring out how the buses / collectivos work? Also, do you know how far before the ferry is set to leave you need to arrive? Also do you have any tips for where to stay in Quellon when I arrive? Thanks in advance!

    • Reply
      February 2, 2019 at 3:40 am

      Hey Evea. I’m getting back to you a day too late! Did you find a way to get to Puerto Chacabuco? If you found a way, would love to hear it. In general, my favorite resource for overland travel is Rome2Rio. It doesn’t have all the collectivo routes, but it should give you an idea of how your journey will break down. We got there a couple hours prior to departure and ended up walking around the area (which is quite pretty!) until we were ready to leave. As for accommodation in Quellon, everything was pretty lackluster – I think we just walked around until we found a spot. Anyway, let me know if you made it and hope you’re enjoying Patagonia!

  • Reply
    January 22, 2019 at 8:11 pm

    Do you recall if people could take their bikes on board the ferry?

    • Reply
      February 2, 2019 at 3:36 am

      Hey Lindsay. I don’t recall specifically, but there was a ton of room on our ferry, and there was more than enough room for cars and luggage. You might have to pay a fee, but I have no doubt your bike will be allowed onboard!

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