What should I expect?

Whatever your appetite for adventure, your budget or interests, the Chilean Lake District combined with Chiloe Island will keep you captivated with its stunning, diverse scenery, charming local residents and sheer contrast to Southern Patagonia.

  • Multi-day hikes: either staying in a refuge hut, with a local family or camping, there are hikes ranging from 2 to 9 days, through lush temperate rainforests, past conical volcanoes or under the shadow of huge granite walls.
  • Day hikes from a lodge base: if you’d prefer to hike by day with a day pack and return in the evening to a warm bed, hot shower and privacy, there are a number of options with different levels of comfort and service.
  • Volcano hikes: as the name suggests, there is the opportunity to summit one of the 2,000 volcanoes that run down the length of Chile.

Types of Hiking

Multi-Day Hiking

For total immersion into the lush, green, wild beauty of the Chilean Lakes, take on a multi-day hike. There are a number of national parks and also private parks (which act similarly to national parks). The two main hut-to-hut hikes available are through two private parks: the Tagua Tagua Park and the Tantauco Park. If you are a less experienced hiker, consider a 2-3 day hike in the Tagua Tagua Park, which can be sandwiched between a spot of comfort in a cosy lodge. For those looking for a real challenge, take on the tough 5 day expedition through the thick rainforest of the Tantauco Park. In both parks you can sleep overnight in unmanned, basic refuge huts.

The Lake District also offers the opportunity to stay overnight with local families, as you pass through their farmland. The Vicente Perez Rosales National Park, famous for the emerald Petrohue Falls, has a lovely 3 day trek passing the needlepoint of the Puntiagudo Volcano, or you could hike into the granite walled Cochamo Valley - locally known as Chile’s Yosemite. For a longer, harder hike with overnight camping, take on the full Cochamo Circuit.

Multi-Day Hiking Trips

Volcano Hiking

There are more than 2,000 volcanoes that run down the spine of Chile (not all of them active), and the Lake District has no shortage of these beautiful, conical, snow capped volcanoes to climb. You can day hike to the summit of the smouldering Villarica or take on the more technical 2 day ascent of the Osorno Volcano. For the ultimate challenge, take on the Triple Volcano Quest, which reaches 3 summits in 5 days, with a rest day midway to laze in natural thermal pools.

Volcano Hiking Trips

Multi-Activity Hiking

Whether it's from a remote lodge base or from the fun, picturesque lakeside towns of Pucon or Puerto Varas, it's possible to do day hikes and also to combine them with a range of day activities. The Chilean Lakes offer white water rafting, horse riding, hiking, kayaking and mountain biking.

Multi-Activity Trips

Day Hiking from a Lodge Base

If roughing it by night is simply not for you but getting out on the trails is, do not fear - there are a selection of cosy lodges that act as a great base from which to explore. These range from real luxury, with spa facilities and gourmet food, to more simple comfort, where you can have a hot shower and a roof over your head. As well as hiking, many lodges also offer the chance to kayak, horse ride and mountain bike.

Vicente Perez Rosales National Park

This active hike covers a large and scenic section of the Vicente Perez Rosales park, Chile's first national park which opened in 1926. The hike takes 6 hours and covers 12km, mostly on a gravel trail. The trail begins with some steady uphill sections, but you will be treated to stunning views over the volcanoes and the lakes. The Andes emerge on the horizon as you end your hike at the emerald waters of the Todos Los Santos Lake. On your return journey back to Puerto Varas you will visit the Petrohue Falls, where waterfalls cascade through channels formed by a combination of lava flows and water erosion. (This hike can also end with a night at the historic Hotel Petrohue on the shores of the Todos Los Santos Lake, instead of returning to Puerto Varas).

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Alerce Andino National Park

The Alerce Andino National Park is located between mountains, volcanoes and the Pacific Ocean. This full day excursion will take you along the coast at the beginning of the Carretera Austral. During this gentle hike you'll cover 16km in approximately 5 hours. For those looking for a challenge, an extra 4km loop to the Sargazo Lagoon can be added. Whilst inside the park, you'll be surrounded by the exuberant temperate rainforest, including the old alerce trees (Fitzroya Cupressoides). Over millions of years, the transformation of these mountains created a landscape full of rivers, waterfalls and lagoons. During the drive to the park you will stop at local villages, to admire the ocean view of the first fjord of Patagonia.

Alerce Andino National Park Sign - Small - SD

Climbing the Villarica Volcano

This perfect cone-shaped volcano, with its open crater and simmering lava pool, makes for the most incredible day hike. The hike can take up to 9 hours, although this varies depending on the time of year. No previous technical experience is necessary, just experience of long day hikes. At 2,847m the views are reward enough for the challenge of hiking. Standing on the edge of a smouldering crater, with views north and south of the Andes Mountains, is a truly unique experience.

Pucon - Small - SD

Hiking in the Huequehue National Park

This hike takes you deep into a forest of monkey puzzle trees, with waterfalls, hidden lakes and perfect reflections. The hike begins with a steep two-hour ascent, with incredible views of the Villarica Volcano along the way, then once you reach the plateau, it levels off, the forest changes and there are a series of lakes which make for great picnic and siesta stops. The hike will take you 6 hours in total and leads you through some interesting rural landscapes.

Huequehue

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FAQs about Hiking in the Chilean Lake District

  • How do I get there from Santiago?

    Santiago, the capital city of Chile, is where the domestic flights leave from to get you to the two gateway cities of Temuco and Puerto Montt. Temuco is a 1.5 hour drive from Pucon and is the access point for the Northern Lake District. Puerto Montt is a 30 minute drive from Puerto Varas to the north or a 1 hour drive to Chiloe in the south.

  • Can I get there overland from Argentina?

    If you are in Buenos Aires, the capital city of Argentina, then you can make your way to Bariloche, the gateway to the Argentinian Lake District. There are some fabulous ways to cross the border into Chile either by lakes or overland; the easy and cheap way is the 6 hour bus between Bariloche and Puerto Varas; the longer, more expensive but arguably more stunning route is a 1 day lake crossing from Bariloche to Puerto Varas.

  • I'm in Torres del Paine, how do I get there?

    If you are hoping to visit the Lake District before or after visiting Torres del Paine then there are daily flights between Puerto Montt and Punta Arenas, the gateway city for Torres del Paine. For the more adventurous there is also a 4 day ferry that travels through the fjords between both these cities.

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