After being out and about in Chiloé, we couldn’t help but have a bit of rest at our next destination, the German-founded Puerto Varas. It’s a nice town at the shore of Llanquihue Lake, which is the second biggest lake of Chile. The waves were like of the sea! This city is much nicer than its big brother, Puerto Montt, so if you plan to stay at the area, rather choose Puerto Varas. Even more, because famous Volcano Osorno is just around the corner.
Around Puerto Varas
Puerto Varas is a good location to explore the area, still Los Lagos region. There are many nice places to see in the nature, such as black sandy beaches and tiny villages around the lake (Frutillar, Puerto Octay), and several volcanoes. This area is abundant in volcanoes, from which Volcano Calbuco is active (it erupted a few years ago spitting only ash, no one was harmed), and the dormant Volcano Osorno with its all-year-round snowy cap. Recently some volcanic activity was measured at Osorno and locals say it’s not long until it would erupt again. It’s possible to hike both volcanoes, and we opted for Osorno since it was closer to Puerto Varas.
Top hike from Puerto Varas: Volcano Osorno
We hitchhiked all the way to the volcano – the road was very scenic with occasional viewpoints between trees. The total height of Volcano Osorno is 2652 m but without crampons it’s possible to go until the snowy cap only, which is at 2000 m. There’s a paying chairlift for most of the way. We climbed to the furthest point possible without crampons and chairlift! (Very proud of ourselves!) There’s a panoramic view of Llanquihue Lake on one side, and of the Andes with Todos Los Santos lake on the other – it’s really spectacular. In winter the slopes provide a good place to ski. A route down from the volcano to Petrohue River will lead to Petrohue waterfalls (Saltos) which we haven’t seen due to lack of time but it’s worthy. (Note, it’s a paying site and check closing time when planning a visit. We heard it closes at 6 pm.)
Alerce Andino National Park
Another nice day out is to the (paying) Alerce Andino National Park, which offers various hikes through lush forest. It’s a bit further from Puerto Varas, so an early start would be necessary. Another option is to leave from the uglier Puerto Montt, the nearest big city towards the south.
Is Chile’s ‘Lake District’ on your bucket list? Which other places would you like to visit in Chile? Maybe we can help -Tell us about them in the comments below!