Come and Discover the Lake District of Chile
Chile’s Lake District is one of the most popular destinations in Chile, not only for its beauty, but also for the multitude of cultural and outdoor activities available. Located south of the Bío-Bío River to Puerto Montt, this spectacular region is a fairy-tale land of glacially formed lakes, snow-capped volcanic mountains, waterfalls, lush rolling hills, hundreds of lakes, lagoons & hot-springs and emerald forests depicting one of pristine beauty and picture-perfect scenery.
Home to the Mapuche people, the region is also sprinkled with picturesque towns that have a distinct European elegance. For three centuries the Mapuche Indians fiercely and successfully defended this land first against the Incas and later against the Spanish, but shortly after Chilean Independence they relinquished their territory and settlers flocked to the area, attracted by the rich volcanic soil among lush forests and lakes.
Many Germans began to settle in Chile’s Lake District in the middle of the 19th century and have played a significant role in the economic, political and cultural development of Chile. Both the Mapuche and German ethnic groups have left their mark on the region through architecture, culture, art, and food.
The city of Temuco is the gateway to the Lake District in the heart of the Mapuche homeland and is a popular market town for traditional Mapuche crafts in silver and wood. The pretty lakeside resorts of Pucón and Villarica sit at opposite ends of Lake Villarica, dominated by the smoldering Villarica Volcano.
Valdivia is an appealing town with its Spanish colonial history and subtle German architecture from the European influx, and lively riverside market. Osorno is another town with a strong German influence, which is evident in its dairy farming and manufacturing culture. This is also the base for exploring Chile’s most popular national park, Parque Nacional Puyehue, which boasts superb volcanic scenery, abundant wildlife, waterfalls and nature trails.
Pucón and Puerto Varas resorts draw thousands of tourists in the summer months of January and February. The autumn is also a great time to visit when the leaves turn red, and in the winter, you can soothe your limbs after a day of skiing with a soak in the area’s numerous hot springs.
Another great draw here is the proximity to the Argentine Lake District, where you’ll find the gorgeously located towns of Bariloche and San Martín de los Andes. If you’re planning on visiting both countries, it makes sense to cross the border in the Lake District, where Chile and Argentina are separated by a 1- to 2-day boat ride or several hours by road, year-round.
Today the region attracts tourists from across the globe to marvel at the scenery, climb the volcanoes, hike in the National Parks and fish in the lakes, stopping off at various towns along the way.
Its natural wonders along with its well-developed tourism infrastructure continue to provide the basis for the region’s economy harboring tourism, farming, salmon production, and forestry.
Each destination in the Lake District offers good accommodation, dining and shopping, and opportunities for both sport and relaxation are limitless. It is an enticing region combining outdoor activity with peaceful sunsets and luxurious comforts.
Popular Destinations to visit in the Lake District of Chile
— Lican Ray
— Puerto Montt
— Puerta Varas
— Puerto Octay