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The stunning Lake District lies just before Chilean territory becomes the gorgeous expanses of Patagonia.
At the Andes’ foothills, this 600-meter long sliver of mountainous land consists of several lakes on a southern line between the mountain range and the sea. The snow-capped volcanic peaks, forest-rimmed seas, rustic charm, and great adventure sports and outdoor activities thrill tourists visiting the area. The district of Chile’s Lake Zona Sur is situated in Chile, a region that reaches north to Temuco and south to Puerto Montt. The area itself is referred to by locals as Sur Chico and is the entrance to Patagonia, with the indigenous people intensely proud of its status as a gateway to the famous Patagonian wilderness, including the National Park of Torres del Paine. This area draws tourists who want a slower, more relaxed discovery pace, where the lakes and their surroundings can be explored alone, away from the crowds and tourist pits of Southern Patagonia.
If you’re an adventure fanatic, Puerto Varas lies on the banks of Lago Villarrica and Llanquihue in the south of the Lake District, and a sure bet to find outdoors galore. Throughout the many forested roads, mountain bikers can walk up volcanic tracks, horse ride lakeside, rafting or kayaking down beatutiful rivers. If you jump to the challenge of conquering nature, you can hike up for a day up the slopes of Volcano Villarrica and Volcano Osorno, which rise above the landscape as you get to your destination – both are perfect for climbers of all levels.
Volcanic peaks, forest-rimmed seas, great adventure sports
Try yourself fishing for trout or salmon in the Petrohue River, surrounded with the peacefulness of nature. Two National Parks of the region, the Conguillio National Park and the Huilo-Huilo National Reserve, also serve wonderfully for beginner and avid. The park is free to explore, but adrenaline junkies will also expect mountain bikes and zip lines to keep their blood pumping.
For enthusiastic skiers, take the ski to resorts such as Antillanca, Corralco and Pucon, where after walking to the crater and gazing at the abyss you can ski down volcanoes. Relax in the hot spring later on and taste in the evening one of Chile’s popular locally produced craft beers. You will also hear about the indigenous Mapuche society, the indigenous people of the area who had lived here long before the Spanish victors came to South America. Many Mapuche communities still exist in the region and some of them encourage tourists to visit their towns.
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WHAT NOT TO MISS in the lake district of chile
Chiloé is quickly growing into a popular destination, an island of unique folklore. Enjoy the beauty and warmth of Chiloé people, who historically offer this unique archipelago’s unrivaled character. Express themselves through its picturesque buildings constructed on stilts over the sea. Chiloé is also famous for its colorful wooden churches, 16 of them listed UNESCO World Heritage Sites. The island’s striking landscapes will thrill natural lovers. Take one of the many hiking or kayak routes to explore stunning maritime canals.
In the spectacular Lake District of Chile, Pucón is one of the most popular destinations. The beaches of Pucón have been renowned for their wide variety of adventure activities, such as horse riding, wading, and fishing, between the lakes and the breathtaking Villarica volcano. Skiing, snowboarding, and whitewater rafting are also accessible nearby. The city is easily accessible from the Villarrica volcano and is often used as a base for visiting the volcano, where molten magma still runs alongside the mountains.
This is one of South America’s most picturesque regions, traversing the winding roads through the Lake District of Chile, through snow-covered volcanoes, luxuriant green valleys, and sparkling lakes. The Lake District of Chile is the ideal destination for outdoor activities, two thirds from the countryside and consisting of 3 major national parks. You can relax and enjoy the excellent local cuisine, especially seafood, as well as the region’s rich cultural history as the historical home of indigenous Mapuche peoples of Chile.
Villarrica volcano is one of the most active volcanoes in the world, majestically lying between Pucón and Villarrica’s cities. It is possible to walk to the top with expert guides, due to weather or volcanic activity, this tour is not always possible. Its heights ensure beautiful views, and it’s certainly worthwhile, though it’s difficult to climb up! The road starts on a volcanic rock, the smell of sulfur is evident. On clear days, the volcanoes of Lanín, Tronador, Osorno and Calafquen, Panguipulli, and Pellaifa can be seen.
A trip to the Osorno Volcano can be had year-round. Around 60km from Puerto Varas, there’s plenty of winter activities such as skiing, snowboarding, or even tubing. During the summer months, you can go for a hike, take the panoramic chairlift for spectacular lookout views, or even fly around on zip lines. You can arrive by car from Puerto Varas or by tour. Stop at Telski for a sunset drink or dinner at the end of your day. It’s just 50m from the chairlift with beautiful views and excellent food.
The Petrohué Waterfalls are located close to the Lago de los Todos Santos, on the eastern slopes of Osorno Volcano, just within the borders of Vicente Pérez Rosales National Park. You take the path from Ensenada to National Park Vicente Perez Rosales. On the way into the national park, the path turns unpaved, through the ancient Valdivian rainforest, and then over bridges, through amazingly blue water, thundering into Petrohue Falls. Via a small bridge, you can reach the water.
A port city on the Pacific coast of Chile and located about 2.5 hours from Pucón, it’s a wondeful stop to add to your trip if you are driving from Pucón to Puerto Varas (or the other way around). We recommend to visit the Feria Fluvial (Fish market) to see behind the market on the waterfront, many sea lions waiting for the fish parts from the market. Here you can also take a boat trip that takes you around the different rivers (all connected to the sea).
In the Villarica National Park’s magnificent beauty, close to Coñaripe region, immerse the Geométricas Hot Springs, situated at ‘Cajón Negro’ (‘black box’). The road was previously inaccessible and located in the Villarrica National Park on a mountain in the indigenous forest. It’s home to 17 pools ranging from 8 to 42oC, conveniently accessible by a stunning red 450m walkway. Although the hot springs are one of Chile’s finest, they are very far from Pucón.
Huerquehue National Park
Situated 35 kilometers (21 kilometers) north-east of Pucón, covers about 12,500 hectares of natural surroundings. You will be able to experience spectacular wildlife such as condors, pumas, monitos del monte, and pudus, living with local flora such as araucarias, coihues, hualles, lingues, and tepas. It has over 20 transparent lakes and shimmering waterfalls, which derive from innumerable rivers, streams, and springs.
Santiago de Chile
|Santiago, Región Metropolitana, Chile||A city where old meets new in the architecture, culture, and geography of this Chilean metropolis. In Chile’s central valley of the Santiago Basin, the city is surrounded by many formidable mountain ranges that dominate the horizon. The Andes, which are as far away from Santiago’s side as the Pacific Ocean is from the other, are among them.|
|Patagonia||Patagonia is a vast region of Argentina & Chile, and the southernmost tip of South America. Chilean Patagonia, which draws tourists for its thrilling outdoor sports and seasonal wildlife spotting. In Chilean Patagonia, the Andes sink drastically into the Pacific, producing unique geographical formations and an extensive array of archipelagos, channels, and fjörds.|
San Pedro de Atacama
|San Pedro de Atacama, Antofagasta, Chile||In northern Chile’s high, arid plains, an otherworldly moon-like landscape meets with the night skies. With vast desert plains, volcanic peaks, gleaming white salt pans, undulating pink and orange rock and sand formations, and turquoise lagoons, Atacama Desert is a remote land that continues to captivate travelers, and home to a variety of wildlife, flora, and fauna.|
|Avenida Philippi 1215, Frutillar Bajo, Frutillar, Los Lagos, Chile||At the Andes’ base, this 600-mile long sliver of mountainous terrain boasts numerous lakes between the mountain range and sea running south. This region draws tourists who enjoy a slower, more relaxed pace of exploration, to explore the lakes and their surroundings individually, away from the crowds and tourist traps of southern Patagonia, to give you that desired feeling of pure solitude in nature.|
|Isla de Pascua, Valparaíso, Chile||This Pacific Island, located an astounding 2,200 m away from the South American coast, technically belongs to Chile. Famous for its giant Moai statues, iconic and mysterious stone heads have made the island popular throughout the world as remote, isolated, and enigmatic. The Moai were sculpted more than 400 decades ago by the indigenous Rapa Nui, the indigenous people inhabiting the island.|
Depending on your client’s preferences, we can help you determine the best experiences tailored for your clients. From where to visit, when to go, what to do and how to get there safely, our travel experts will help you create an experience your clients will love.
Best times to visit the Lake District
The Chilean Lake District shares numerous climatic advantages in this area, due to its proximity to Patagonia. The Patagonia weather can also be erratic, rainy and sunny…all within a single day. Where you are, and at what height the weather can also differ, so ensure you bring ample gear for rain, sun, heat, cold and even snow depending on the time of year. The weather can shift relatively abruptly. From November to April the spring and the summer are the driest seasons. From May to October it may get very cold and these are the weatherproof months as well. In this precarious climate, floods are always occurring in the area, so keep this in mind when planning travel during the rainy season.
HOW TO GET THERE
Flights from Santiago or Punta Arenas to Puerto Montt are the best way to reach the Chilean Lake District. You can also cross over near Bariloche if coming from neighboring Argentina, and able to enter the border by vehicle rental or bus. You can arrange both internal and regional flights as well, but talk to our experts when you hire a car to discover independently the lake district. Alternatively, during your stay, we can arrange private transfers or transport.
The ideal way to discover the lake district is with your own car. The roads are very scenic and weave through little towns, beautiful lakes and past volcanoes.
Alternatively, private transfers can be organized or organized tours to visit the highlights of each destination.
Between towns regular busses run frequently and there is a beautiful boat crossing from Puerto Varas to Bariloche in Argentina, that takes a full day.
WHERE TO STAY
Many high-end resorts, hotels and private cabins offer rustic and authentic experiences to stay in Lake District. Since many highlights are distributed, the infrastructure in the area is already well established, most all are accessible by road. The Indians of the Mapuche have long been living in this area, and in the small market areas and boutiques around the small villages, you find many of their arts and crafts for sale. Food lovers will be satisfied with a lot of delicious food choices in the city, as well as hearty stews and afternoon tea. Definitely find and enjoy the many German bakeries which in view of their legacy as a settled and immigration region, are growing in this area.
More highlights of Chile
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