Lake District and Volcanoes Holidays
Chile’s Lake District, which forms the middle stretch of the country between Concepcion to the north and Chiloe to the south, is the ideal location for those looking for adventure. The region, which hosts fertile farms, thick forests, imposing volcanoes and vast mirrored lakes, was once the home of the Mapuche, who famously fought off the advance of the Incan empire. Today the Mapuche’s ancestors still play an important role in the area, despite the obvious strong influence of the large German, Austrian and Swiss migrant populations.
Here, water is king. Whether you are after an adrenaline rush or a relaxing retreat, the ocean, lakes, rivers and hot springs will provide the perfect setting, with a jaw dropping backdrop. Raft in white water, clamber though canyons, fish the creeks, walk to thunderous waterfalls, bathe in natural spas, or cycle along scenic shore lines. The choices are seemingly endless.
This has traditionally been a relatively unexplored region, with some areas only starting to appear on maps at the start of the 20th Century. Even today the bulk of foreign tourists tend to forego these stunning vistas in favour of more famous settings to the north and south. This allows those who do visit (including many Chileans) to do so in a relaxed environment, one in which they can escape the crowds and enjoy some of the country’s most spectacular sights in near perfect isolation.
Pucon is the Lake District’s most commercial town. Situated at the end of a lake and shadowed by an active volcano, it boasts all of the traditional services demanded by tourism. Casino’s, clubs, bars and restaurants mean Pucon’s nightlife is one of the country’s most vibrant, and the excursions available during the day, make it a hub for adventure seekers.
Valdivia, located at the confluence of the Calle-Calle, Valdivia, and Cau-Cau Rivers, was once one of the most fortified cities in the New World and an essential part of the Spanish hold on the region. In the second half of the 19th century, it became the port of entry for German immigrants who were given land to tend and have had a strong influence on the culture ever since. In 1960 the city was the hardest hit by the ‘Great Chilean Earthquake’. Measuring 9.5 on the magnitude scale, it was the most powerful tremor ever recorded and debris from buildings and infrastructure destroyed by it can still be found in some suburbs, adding macabre visual aids to the story of this history rich settlement.
Located a short ferry ride from Pargua, just south of Puerto Montt, Chiloe is a distinctive archipelago famed for its undulating hills, dense green forests, plentiful birdlife, stilted buildings and intriguing folklore. The marine life, which includes numerous species of whales, dolphins, otters, sea lions and penguins, makes the region a must see for wildlife enthusiasts and the high class accommodation and dining options mean an overnight stay comes highly recommended.
Osorno and Puyehue
With its laid back atmosphere, unique forests, rich birdlife and striking glacial lagoons, the Osorno and Puyehue region, situated halfway between Valdivia and Puerto Montt, is the ideal stopover for those wanting to get off the beaten track and do some hiking and exploring.
Colloquially known as the ‘City of Roses’, Puerto Varas is a Chilean town, with an unmistakeably German feel. The impeccable gardens, stylish architecture and vibrant nightlife make it the perfect host for visitors setting their sights on the nearby lakeside beaches, outdoor adventures and plentiful hiking and biking trails.
Though often seen merely as the gateway to the southern Lake District region, Puerto Montt has a charm of its own, which makes it an appealing place to bed down for a night or two. Its ocean front location makes it a seafood lover’s paradise and its port and beaches are ideal locations in which to relax and simply watch the world spin by.