We’ve just said goodbye to summer season full of adventures in Chile’s Lake and Volcano District. After 2 years of global uncertainty around traveling, we felt beyond thankful to receive our international friends again.
From december to march, we cycled between pristine lakes and hiked the stunning trails around active volcanoes.
WHAT DO WE DO IN THE LAKE AND VOLCANO DISTRICT
Geographically, Chile is part of the Ring of Fire. Indeed, there are no less than 3.000 volcanoes from small cinder cones, to huge boilers of various kilometers in diameter located all along the Andes mountain range. In the Lake and Volcano District, we find 17 active volcanoes. Among them, the Llaima and Villarrica volcanoes are South America’s most active volcanoes.
Traveling throughout the southern region, the giant cones dominate the landscape. What’s more, we can appreciate how their shape and silhouette change radically. Thus, many of them present large glaciers on their summit.
In addition to the active volcanic activity, we can also find the largest lakes of southern Chile. Many of them are interconnected by a hydrological system consisting of 26 large rivers, and thousands of small ones. As a result, these water sources are the main actors in conserving the rich biodiversity of the Lake and Volcano District.
It goes without saying that, given the natural elements composing the landscape of the southern region, we are blessed with stunning and remote places to explore.
Below, you will find out the best attractions to visit when traveling to Chile.
Kütralkura UNESCO Geopark
More than just a park, the Kutralkura geopark is 8.000 square kilometers that includes 6 protected areas located in La Araucanía. In Mapudungun, the native tongue of the area, Kütralkura means “stone of fire”. Indeed, there we can find one of the most active volcanoes in the world.
But also, the territory has a strong human and cultural importance. As a matter of fact, the pehuenche mapuche, first inhabitants of the area, have their ancestral cosmovision that stands out the divine essence of the volcanoes, and every element of nature in general.
Conguillío National Park
With the Llaima volcano as the main attraction of the Conguillio national park, we can also find other natural beauties such as the Captrén lagoon, the Conguillio lake and the Truful-Truful canyon. There, the area offers a lot of active adventures to experience through beautiful hiking trails.
In Amity, we particularly love the Sierra Nevada trail hike. Surrounded by ancient trees, the starting point of the trail is near the lake. The ascent is progressive and passes through a beautiful forest of native trees like lengas, colihue and araucarias. Until reaching the first two look up points, the trail is quite easy.
Afterwards, when reaching 1.600 meters above sea level, the views get really magnificent. In fact, we can admire the Llaima volcano exhibiting its cone-shaped silhouette. At its feet lies the Conguillio lake.
In addition to the many stunning hiking trails available in the park, crossing through the national park by bike is the best eco-friendly way to visit the area. From Temuco airport, our supported bike route offers a well-paved section, cutting through farm lands in the rolling hills of La Araucanía region.
Riding alongside the Llaima volcano, we get to enjoy the landscape of the Mapuche land with smooth hills and scenic nothofagus tree forests in the middle of green meadows.
When entering the park, we easily witness how the high volcanoes have shaped the landscape of the Conguillio national park.
Check out this great adventure in our Multisport Tour in Chile’s Lake and Volcano District and Patagonia.
Malalcahuello National Reserve
Another natural treasure of the Kutralkura Geopark is the Malalcahuello National Reserve. Interestingly, this territory might be one of the most outstanding attractions to visit in Chile. Geographically, the landscape is deeply marked by volcanic and glacial activity. The main natural actor is the Lonquimay volcano (2.820 meters above sea level).
Not without mentioning the presence of the “Cráter Navidad” that ended its last eruptive process in 1990. As a result, the Malalcahuello National Reserve features a unique surreal landscape that blends recent volcanic slags with ancient forests of araucaria trees.
In summer, our favorite outdoor adventure is mountain biking at the foothills of the Lonquimay volcano, passing through pristine forests of araucaria trees. On top of it, we get to connect with the pewenche Mapuche community. During this cultural encounter, they share with us their cosmovision and ancestral knowledge, and why their relationship with the araucaria tree is very close.
Chile’s Capital of adventure tourism: Pucón
The strong omnipresent figure of the Villarrica volcano is without a doubt the highlight of Chile’s Lake and Volcano District. At his feet, the quaint mountain cities of Villarrica and Pucón stand around the Villarrica lake. The latter is actually the capital of adventure tourism thanks to the many outdoors activities it offers. Actually, Pucón is consolidated as a world-class destination.
Around Pucón, exploring the crystalline lakes and rivers, in addition to the incredible trails located on the foothills of the Villarrica and Lanín volcanoes are surely the best adventures to experience in this area. Moreover, you are always surrounded by ancient forests and get to connect directly with the roots of the Mapuche, the first inhabitants of Chile’s Lake and Volcano District.
Either by bike or by foot, we love to visit the best attractions around Pucón.
Villarrica volcano hike
Located near the Andes mountain range, the Villarrica national park is a protected wildlife area that is characterized by the majestic volcanoes, native tree forests, rivers and lagoons.
Dominating the landscape, the imposing Villarrica volcano (2.847 meters) is the greatest attraction. In the Mapuche culture, they call it the Rukapillán, which means “house of the spirits”. From the open crater, we can see flowing lava.
Hiking up to the summit of Chile’s most active volcano is definitely a must-do.
Cycling around Pucón
On the other hand, pedaling through this ancestral territory might be what we love to do the most. In fact, given the huge variety of trails, Pucón is actually the perfect place for every kind of biker.
Indeed, if you fancy more paved terrains, road cycling towards the Andes mountain range between volcanoes, lakes and the quaint countryside is definitely an authentic experience. What’s more, we love to relax at natural hot springs after spending an active day on our bike.
But if you are more into dirt and gravel roads, mountain or gravel cycling through Pucón’s nature is for you. For mountain biking, our favorite spots to pedal are between the Lanín and Villarrica volcano, an incredible territory of ancient forests and lagoons.
Furthermore, we also added a new modality to our bike tours around Pucón. Indeed, in Amity Tours, since the pandemic, we’ve been actively exploring new routes to gravel bike. With our team of nature lovers, we’ve been gravel cycling the blow-minding trails that Pucón’ surroundings feature.
Check out our new gravel bike tour that blends adventure, ancestral culture all together with outstanding nature.
This circuit might be the most representative of Chile’s Lake and Volcano district. As indicated, there are no less than 7 lakes of extraordinary beauty: Calafquén, Panguipulli, Riñihue, Pullinque, Pellaifa, Neltume and Pirihueico.
As you cycle the Seven-lake circuit, you can enjoy and feel the presence of the Valdivian Rainforest and the Mocho-Choshuenco volcano, the main figure. With a strong Mapuche cultural identity, exuberant nature and also natural hot springs, this circuit has developed as a major tourist destination in Southern Chile. One of the natural attractions is the famous Huilo-Huilo Biological Reserve, an important center of biodiversity and endemism.
Every summer, we enjoy cycling the incredible seven-lake route with the imposing nature surrounding us.
Located in the Los Ríos region, the Llanquihue lake is Chile’s second largest lake and is characterized by the strong blue color of the water. Depending on the weather, it is possible to appreciate the reflection of the Osorno volcano. The cities of Puerto Varas and Frutillar settle at the shores, famous for their beaches and a strong German architecture.
Truth to be said, the area is a true paradise for every cyclist. In fact, thanks to the presence of Chile’s largest bicycle lane that borders the Llanquihue lake (82 kilometers). It starts from Puerto Varas and reaches Ensenada, where it forks towards the Petrohue waterfalls up to Las Cascadas.