Stretching approximately 340 kilometers across the Ninth and Tenth Regions of Chile is the Chilean lake district.
The 12 major turquoise lakes of this region are only part of its wonder. Here, you’ll also find lush, green, dense forests, fresh and cool rivers, and even snow-peaked volcanoes. There are waterfalls, hot springs, the Andes mountains, and Pacific coastline.
In summary, this is a part of Chile that’s made for every type of vacationer. Whether you’re looking to relax, adventure, eat great food, or get close to wildlife, the Chilean lake district has something for you. Join us as we explore all this region has to offer.
Things to Do in the Chilean Lake District
There are 12 main lakes in the lake region of Chile, but dozens more are spread out across this landscape. Between them you’ll find rivers, waterfalls, volcanoes, mountains, forests, and an incredible nature that offers both serenity and the chance to immerse yourself in more adventurous ways.
Below are Kuoda’s top recommendations for what to do in the Chilean lake district.
The lake district covers the Ninth and Tenth Regions, otherwise known as La Araucanía and Los Lagos, respectively. The former, La Araucanía, takes its name from the Araucanía indigenous people of Chile.
Also called the Mapuche, this is the largest indigenous tribe in all of Chile, and their culture is still very much alive here. Some communities allow tourists to visit their settlements but if you don’t get the chance, you can feast your eyes on some of their colorful handicrafts sold in local craft markets, shops, and boutiques around the region.
In the Los Lagos region, Puerto Montt is a bustling city with excellent seafood that can be enjoyed amidst stunning Pacific Ocean views. The city is also the gateway to the Chiloé Archipelago. Consisting of hundreds of islands, this archipelago was isolated from the rest of Chile for most of the nation’s history. That’s lent itself to the preservation of a rich ethnic and folkloric tradition.
The lakes in Chile are like the lakes anywhere else in the world… a perfect place to relax by the water. The beach at Coñaripe is black sand and it’s only a hop, skip, and a jump away from the thermal hot springs at Huife or Palquín.
You can find black sand beaches at La Ensenada, too. From here, you can tour through native rainforests on horseback or hike the scenic areas that can only be reached on foot.
The calm waters of Río Petrohue make for a great day of swimming. And if it’s fish you’re looking for, the Rio is also full of trout and salmon. Spend the day fly-fishing and bring back dinner.
Seafood lovers will delight in the fish market of Angelmó. It houses a huge variety of fresh seafood and the second floor is where you can get it fresher than anywhere else.
There are a few things you’re most definitely going to want to try while you’re visiting the lake region in Chile. Do not miss these dishes:
- Cancato: Fish, grilled and stuffed with vegetables, cheese, or sausage.
- Curanto: A dish cooked in an earth oven or earthenware pot that includes crustaceans, corn, fishes, mollusks, and sausages.
- Parillada de Marciscos: Mixed seafood grilled to perfection.
Be sure to ask your host or server which wines pair best with whatever it is you’re eating. Chile has an incredible wine industry to suit any connoisseur’s tastes.
Chile’s lake district is set up for a variety of adventure sports. In Pucón on Lago Villarrica adventure enthusiasts can mountain bike, kayak, horse ride, and hike. White water rafting of all levels is an option in Trancura River and you can even ski at La Burbuja, located just outside of Puerto Varas.
If you’re up for a real challenge, attempt climbing Volcán Villarrica and Volcán Osorno, which can both be climbed in a day by novice climbers. Volcan Villarica reaches 2,847 meters altitude, but you can also hike along the base to see lava flows, caves, and the incredible flora and fauna.
Make your way to Parque Nacional Conguillío to see the Araucaria tree. Also known as the monkey puzzle tree, this is an evergreen tree that takes hundreds of years to fully mature. You’ll also be super close to the snow-covered peak of the Sierra Nevada as well as the Llaima Volcano, which is still very much active.
For visitors who are more interested in fauna than flora, head to Huerquehue National Park. Located on Lago Caburga’s eastern shore at the foothills of the Andes, the park sits between the Villarrica National Reserve and the Hualalafquén National Reserve. It’s home to pumas, foxes, pudues, chucao and güiña.
When to Visit the Chile’s Lakes
One of the best parts about visiting the lake district is that you can visit basically any time of year! The region is an all-season destination with a fairly temperate climate. With that said, though, there are sometimes of year that are cooler and rainier than others.
From November to April is spring and summer. These are the driest and warmest months. This also makes them the busiest in terms of tourism. And there’s no guarantee that there won’t be any rain.
Places to Stay
The lake district is quite large and offers many places to stay. You can choose from luxury resorts, five-star hotels, and simpler, more authentic experiences. And while you have a great variety of choices, most visitors tend to stay in some towns more often than others, simply for their proximity to amenities and outings.
Two of the more popular places to say are Villarica and Pucón. Both part of the Araucanía portion of Chile’s lake district, they offer great access to Río Renaico, Lago Calafquén, and of course, the Villarica volcano. Other famous spots include Osorno, Puerto Varas, and Puerto Montt. From any of these locations you can easily access day excursions around the region.
Explore Chile’s Lakes with Kuoda
The Chilean lake district is an all-season destination that can be included in any trip to Chile or South America. With dozens of lakes, waterfalls, rivers, and resorts, it’s the perfect place to relax and unwind in the middle of your holiday. But it also offers adventure sports, fantastic food, and a thriving indigenous culture.
The lake district isn’t the most well-known part of Chile, but it’s definitely worth a visit. Add Chile’s lakes to your Kuoda itinerary.