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The Chilean Lake District

Lakes, Forests, Volcanoes & Coast

The Bio Bio River bisects Chile's Pacific coast, dividing north from south and marking the traditional frontier. North of this natural barrier, Spanish colonizers established cities, ports and farms. To the south, the mighty Mapuche people resisted outside rule—first by the Inca and then by the Spanish—for over five hundred years.

The Mapuche homeland is cool and green, cloaked in pasture and ancient forest. Rivers cascade into sparkling lakes, and volcanic cones are crowned in ice. Now known as the Lake District, this region is celebrated for its stunning vistas, outdoor activities and fine resorts.

The city of Temuco is the principal arrival point in the northern portion of the Lake District. Only 90 minutes by air from Santiago, Temuco is the gateway to Conguillio National Park and the lakeside towns of Villarrica and Pucon. Visitors to Conguillio can explore trails around turquoise lakes and through forests of 3,000-year old araucaria trees. The park's centerpiece is the active Llaima Volcano, with a snowcapped summit that reaches to 10,250 feet. Farther south, Villarrica and Pucon engage visitors in fly fishing, rafting, skiing (June through August) and horseback riding. Nearby hot springs resorts offer a soothing finish to the day's adventures.

The southern Lake District is anchored by Puerto Montt, the principal port on the Bay of Ancud. Flights connect Puerto Montt with Santiago (one hour and 40 minutes) and Punta Arenas (two hours and 10 minutes). Just north of Puerto Montt is Chile's second largest lake—Llanquihue, a 330-square mile mirror reflecting the majestic Osorno Volcano. Lakeside hotels in and around the charming town of Puerto Varas serve as a base for fly fishing excursions, horseback riding, rafting tours, and visits to Petrohue Falls. Other attractions include the lakes of Vicente Perez Rosales National Park, German-settled towns, and seasonal Huaso rodeos.

Bariloche, Argentina lies directly east of Puerto Varas, on the opposite side of the Andes. Crossing the mountains is a fine way to view the region's valleys and lakes. From September to the end of April the journey can be arranged as a full-day or leisurely two-day experience with overnight accommodations in the alpine village of Peulla. During the May to August winters the crossing is a two day tour.

The Lake District is cool and comfortable year round, although sweaters are essential. The warmer, drier months from September to April bring highs in the 60s and lows in the 40s. During the cooler months of June through August, high temperatures average 50º F, lows hover near 40º F, and monthly precipitation rarely exceeds 6.5 inches.

Mosaico Travel Services arranges personalized travel in Chile and throughout South America. We organize luxury accommodation, private transportation, and tours with expert guides. Speak with a Mosaico travel planner today at 801.582.2100. We’ll take care of the details.

"Climb the mountains and get their good tidings. Nature's peace will flow into you as sunshine flows into trees. The winds will blow their own freshness into you, and the storms their energy, while cares will drop off like autumn leaves."

John Muir