Hugging ancient trees & Chasing Chucaos: A hiking adventure in Chile’s Lake and Volcano District

If there’s one thing people know about me, it’s my unabashed pride for all things Chile and the Midwest. So, you can imagine how excited I was when these two great loves combined, and I was given the opportunity to join a special hiking adventure designed by Amity Tours for the students of the Iowa State University. For 8 days, we explored the Lake and Volcano District during their spring break!

 

This is one of the first opportunities we have had at Amity Tours to work in tandem with a faculty-led program, looking to bring the classroom outdoors. We couldn’t be more thrilled to bridge the gap between academics and adventure with this fantastic group of 11 students and 2 professors from the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences. As for me, it felt heartwarming to remember my first introduction to Chile not so long ago. For many of the students, this was their first time out of the country. This made an even more rewarding experience to join them on such a meaningful trip.

 

amity tour guides
Amity’s Tour Guides: Igor and Rubén

Discovering the Conguillio National Park

 

This hiking adventure started with welcoming the students and professors at the Temuco airport. Upon arrival, we took a scenic drive towards our first destination: the Conguillio National Park. We took a short walk to visit the Truful-Truful waterfall to stretch our legs and break into our hiking boots. A magnificent sight of a rainbow forming over the small falls greeted us. With the Llaima Volcano as our backdrop, we took in the scenery and explored the volcanic area.

 

truful truful canyon conguillio national park chile
Truful Truful Canyon, Conguillio National Park

 

Interestingly, it took less than 5 seconds for most of the students to take off searching for local species, eagerly call one another to check out what they discovered. I must admit, I had never seen someone get so excited over a tiny plant growing amongst the rocks until that moment! This was certainly the best indication that daily discoveries and pockets of joy would be the theme of this next week.

 

llaima volcano conguillio national park chile
Llaima Volcano

 

Finally, we returned to the van to drive towards La Baita, Chile’s first eco-lodge located in the heart of the Conguillio National Park. After a delicious dinner, we could contemplate an impeccable view of the stars to cap off a wonderful first day together.

 

Hiking the trails of the Conguillio

 

Our second day started bright and early, with a warm-up hike around the Rainbow Lake (Lago Arcoiris), through the ancient volcanic rocks surrounding the lagoon. The rock formations were created from previous eruptions. As a result, you could see the difference between the various lava flows by the colors and shapes of the rocks, and also fauna that formed in their midst in the aftermath.

 

arcoiris lagoon conguillio national park
Arcoiris Lagoon

 

Moreover, we could listen to local birds such as the chucao and spot some endemic fauna.

 

The Woodpeckers hiking trail and the oldest araucaria tree

Afterwards, we hopped back in the van for a quick ride to our main attraction of the day: the famous Woodpeckers Trail (Sendero de Carpinteros). This hike offered a treasure trove for our birdwatchers hoping to spot the woodpecker and the chucao birds. And maybe even a condor along the way.

 

 

The trail opened its way through ancient araucaria trees. During the hike, we stopped at various intervals to listen for birds and look for ever elusive araucaria saplings. Also, we took the time to have our first group circle to formally introduce ourselves. In addition, we listened to the first of the presentations that each student prepared about a specific topic pertaining to forestry, agriculture, fauna, or culture in Chile.

 

hike conguillio park chile
Igor and the most ancient araucaria tree

 

The trail’s highlight was the famous araucaria madre, an 1800-year-old giant araucaria tree reaching a height of 50 meters. There, we took the opportunity to pause and have a minute of silence to take in the stunning view and be at one with ourselves and nature. This was an excellent way to recharge before heading to the end of the trail for our eagerly awaited picnic lunch.

For lunch, we were joined by some curious chimango caracara birds hoping for a quick bite. Then, we rested alongside the shore of the Conguillio lake overlooked by the Llaima and Sierra Nevada volcanoes before heading back to the lodge for a restful evening.

 

The Sierra Nevada Hiking Trail

 

Day 3 promised to be our most challenging yet most rewarding day by far with the exhilarating Sierra Nevada trail. Our group’s goal was to make it all together to the third lookout point. The group felt some excitement and a slight sense of apprehension as the majority had not done too much hiking prior to this trip. So this hike seemed to be our longest trail with the most amount of elevation gain on the trip.

 

 

Regardless, our guides knew exactly how to keep us motivated while also respecting everyone’s individual needs and limits. Actually we were surprised by how good we all felt by the time we made it to the second lookout. Some of us who were most nervous about our capabilities even felt empowered enough to bravely carry on to the third and final lookout point.

Halfway to the third lookout, I was in awe of our surroundings. We emerged from the ancient native forest to catch unbeatable views of the various volcanoes in the area, the Villarrica volcano.

 

sierra nevada conguillio chile
Sierra Nevada hike: lookout point

 

At the top, a view of the valley of Sierra Nevada blew us away until something else caught our eye. Not one, but two young male condors flying overhead! We couldn’t believe our luck as we stared in grateful wonder at their magnificent wingspan gracefully gliding above our heads. Right there, we knew that every extra kilometer hiked had been beyond worth it. 

Finally, a veritable feast awaited us back at the van that Kike had so lovingly prepared for us. While eating, we took advantage of the down time to look for more potential condor sightings.

 

snack amity table

 

After lunch, we drove our way to Pucón, our home for the next few days. This city is Chile’s Capital of Adventure Tourism and also one of the highlights of the Lake and Volcano District.

 

Hiking Pucón’ surroundings: The Villarrica Volcano

 

As Igor cheerfully reminded us on our rather wet fourth morning: “no rain, no rainbow!”. So, we braved the elements to check out one of Pucón’s most iconic sites: the volcanic caves near Chile’s most active volcano. After listening to students presentations, we put on our safety helmets and trooped into the depths of the caves to learn more about the different types of eruptions that have taken place here.

 

 

Along the way, we were lucky enough to spot a couple of endemic blind cave crickets. Our guide Rodrigo gave us the chance to spend a minute in complete darkness and silence at the end of the cave’s trail.

Afterwards, we rather comically traipsed across the drawbridge nearby to see the start of our second trail of the day. Unfortunately, due to the rain, we had to swap for a shorter, less exposed hike option after lunch. Some of the students took advantage of the fire pit to teach our ground team the wonder of s’mores for a very tasty “home away from home” dessert.

 

 

Then, we started an easy trail walking through the native forest of the Villarrica National Park. This trail takes us to a splendid view of the eponymous volcano. But today, the active volcano was covered in a thick layer of mist and drizzle. Nevertheless, we thoroughly enjoyed our stroll through the woods and the chance to learn even more from Rubén. He’s our expert volcanologist, knowing all about the historical volcanic eruptions. The last one happened in March 2015. 

 

 

Lastly, we returned to Pucón before the long-awaited cherry on top of the day: an evening spent in a local Mapuche community.

 

The Mapuche culture and cosmovision

 

Upon arrival at the ruka (the traditional Mapuche house), our hosts Rosario and Florencio greeted us with a moving welcome ceremony. Then, they invited us to try our hand at traditional Mapuche instruments while Rosario kept the beat and sang. 

 

 

Afterwards, Florencio beckoned us to prepare for a rousing game of palin, which is a traditional game most similar to field hockey. Traditionally, the major Mapuche decisions are made during this ancestral game. After a rousing back and forth, the winning team celebrated with a traditional Mapuche warrior call. Then we tried our best during a contest to cut a trunk of wood with a typical saw. Rosario happily sat by and watched as we did the hard work for her before inviting us into the ruka for dinner.

 

ruka mapuche chile

 

She took the time to explain to us the meaning of the setup of the ruka regarding its position in reference to the sun and the layout of where parents and children slept, while toasting us some araucaria pine nuts to snack on. Moreover, she showed us traditional woven garments. In a somber moment, she expressed concern for the long term safety of the environment as non-indigenous forces continue to disrespect the earth for more and more resources in sacred areas. 

After another ceremonial song, dinner officially began. With very full bellies and even fuller hearts, we gratefully thanked our hosts in the mapudungun words we learned for inviting us to share such a meaningful evening.

 

Hiking the Andean Lagoons in the Villarrica National Park

 

Our fifth day together started rainy and overcast once more. We drove towards the Lanín Volcano, located at the border between Chile and Argentina for an easy hike. We were joined by Amity’s CEO, Cristian Levy, who gave us some fantastic local perspectives regarding Amity’s collaboration with local Mapuche collectives to protect the area from the exploratory logging industry. 

Before starting the hike, the clouds cleared just in time for us to take in the sight of Lanin looming overhead at the beginning of the hike. After a few Kodak moments, we walked onward through the native forest and stopped at the sight of woodpeckers doing what they do best in the towering trees.

 

 

We observed their diligent work before heading onward to our picturesque spot for lunch alongside the Laguna Escondida (Hidden Lake).

 

andean lagoons villarrica national park

 

Due to wind warning us that we may not remain dry for long, we picked up the pace through the rest of the trail. Our luck thankfully remained intact the rest of the way. Lastly, Kike welcome us at the trail’s end once again. This time, with cold local craft beer to toast to our time together.

 

amity snack

 

Visiting the reforestation project: Cooperativa Lemu

 

Our last stop of the day ended up being the most unexpectedly incredible highlight of our entire trip. We took a pit stop near Curarrehue where Amity Tours, in partnership with the Cooperativa Lemu, planted native trees in our reforestation commitment to offset our carbon footprint. 

Cristian showed us how for every international tourist, Amity and Lemu plant 14 native trees to offset their individual carbon emission, as well as how we were also coming up with creative ways to “plant water” in the area. We were invited to look at the different types of native trees we had already seen the fully grown versions of on our hikes so far.

 

CEO Cristian Levy showing the planted native trees

 

Miguel, one of the Mapuche guardians of this land, then invited us to see the traditional totems they had just built and inaugurated the previous night. He shared with us that his community’s machi, the spiritual leader, had asked them to build these wooden structures in protest of the exploratory mining industry threatening the area’s watershed. The night before, they were consecrated in a traditional ceremony.

 

wood towers

 

What happened next made even the most experienced members of the Amity team widen their eyes in surprise. Indeed, the guardians Miguel and Pablo, invited us to take part in an additional ceremony to continue blessing the land around the structures. In fact, the first 24 hours are the most sacred. Stunned, we gathered in a circle and were invited to drink muday and chicha, two traditional fermented drinks. Before each sip, we individually poured out a small offering to Ñuke Mapu, or Mother Earth, on the ground. 

For those of us from the States, we knew just how lucky and privileged we were to be here in such a sacred moment. As a matter of fact, many of us grew a bit emotional as we stood in silence and took in the sight of the structures towering overhead. 

 

A thermal experience: the Geométricas hot springs

 

Now officially beyond the halfway point, our sixth day together was a much-needed rest and relaxation, with a little celebration thrown in for good measure.

As a result, we headed to the highlight of the day: the famous geometric thermal pools. We changed into our swimsuits and gingerly tested each pool before finding the one with just the right temperature to enjoy a good soak. To cool off in between, some of us braver souls jumped into the ice-cold waterfalls nestled between the pools before retreating back to the thermal pools for warmth. 

 

waterfall geometricas hot springs chile
Waterfall at the Geométricas hot springs

 

After a relax bath, we enjoyed a casual lunch and wished one of the students a very happy 20th birthday, complete with a traditional Chilean cake. Rested, rejuvenated, and more than nourished, we dozed off in the van for our journey to the final destination of our tour: the city of Valdivia.

 

Exploring Valdivia

 

Upon arrival, we readjusted to civilization with a walking tour through the Valdivian bustling city to its famous riverside boardwalk. There, we were met by the sights (and smells) of a local fish market and several corpulent sea lions lazing nearby in the hopes of catching a free lunch.

 

valdivia sea lion chile
Photo Credit: Caitlin McNamara

 

Then, we toasted to our first night in the city at a local brewery and enjoyed each other’s company over good music and pub eats. Finally, we headed back to the hotel to prepare for our final hiking adventure the next morning.

 

The Valdivian Coastal Reserve

 

Our last full day was spent exploring a part of the Valdivian Coastal Reserve. created with the help of The Nature Conservancy. First, we took an early ferry across the river along with local commuters. After a short drive along the Pacific coast, we met our local guide, Juan. We learned more about what we would see during the hike. In addition, he explained the Mapuche significance of the rainforest. 

 

valdivian rainforest
Ancient tree in the Valdivian rainforest

 

So, we ventured in through winding and shrouded roads into the belly of the rainforest where the trail began. After stocking up on our favorite cereal bars, we followed Juan into the lush green forest. We were greeted by stunning examples of local flora and fauna as we wound our way through the slightly slippery trail. We would stop every so often to listen to Juan’s expertise about each local plant species. 

 

 

Afterwards, as cracks of sunlight came through, Juan invited us to hug one of the most ancient coihue trees. Interestingly, the coihue is the sacred tree of the Mapuche people. So, as I wrapped my arms around the massive trunk of the coihue looming overhead. I felt a very peculiar surge of energy and promised myself to never forget the lessons I’ve learned along the way during this trip.

 

valdivia rainforest chile
Photo Credit: Caitlin McNamara

 

We journeyed onward to our main objective, a 2000 year old alerce tree tucked away in the depths of this forest. Igor invited one of the students to read a selection by Aldo Leopold. He was a famous naturalist from Iowa. So, we closed our eyes and listened as his wise words came to life in the forest.

When Leopold quoted Thoreau’s dictum, “in wildness is the salvation of the world”, many of us nodded in agreement. Some of us with a tear or two in our eyes at just how fitting those words continue to be not just after our tour, but also in our time on Earth. We took a few more minutes to appreciate the majesty of the giant alerce. Finally, we carried on toward a cluster of ancient alerce trees where we would end our hike. 

 

Juan, our local guide

 

Traditional beer culture for a farewell dinner

 

The Kunstmann is a Chilean-German brewery just outside the city. Certainly, this is one of Chile’s most well-known domestic breweries. Thus, we wasted no time getting settled to raise a glass to the past week spent together.

 

kuntsmann brewery chile
Iowa State University and Amity’s team at farewell dinner

 

During dinner, we sample various types of local beer and Chilean-German cuisine. Afterwards we happily rode back to the hotel for a much-needed last sleep ahead of our final day together.

Finally it was time to say “Chao for now”. After a week of exploring and achieving new heights through this hidden gem amidst Chile’s ample natural offering. As a result, we headed to Valdivia airport to catch the flight back to Santiago. 

 

Photo Credit: Caitlin McNamara

 

As we flew past the impressive Andes mountain range, I remembered what made me fall in love with Chile. It’s that inexplicable feeling of community you find in some of the most hidden corners of the world. What’s more, with folks you never would have dreamed of being lucky enough to break bread or clink a glass.

That is what reminds you of why life itself really is such a never-ending adventure. As Igor assured us as we said our farewells, “All moments lead us here,” and whether you’re a scientist, a student or a free spirit at heart, there’s no better philosophy than that.

 

3 Reasons to Cycle in Chile’s Lake and Volcano District

bike tour chile

Cycling in southern Chile is definitely a must-do if you are a bicycling enthusiast. More than just transportation, it allows you to access the hidden corners of the Chilean territory without contributing to climate change.

 

Bicycle riding is becoming more and more popular due to all the benefits it brings to people’s health and wellbeing. It is also a way of contributing to a more sustainable world. Moreover, it is the best eco-friendly way to visit Chile.

Geographically, Chile is one of the most versatile, safe and unique places to bike in the world. Furthermore, the fact that Chile is located in the Southern Hemisphere allows bikers from the northern parts of the world to enjoy a taste of summer in the off-season provides a great reason for a trip to check it out.

Noteworthy, and since 2016, Chile has won the award of “Best World Adventure Tourism Destination” at World Travel Awards. Correspondingly, you can find a great variety of world-class adventures in the famous Lake and Volcano District Scenic Route. Also known as the Interlagos Network, this southern part of Chile crosses areas booming with resources in terms of its landscapes, environmental and cultural value.

In other words, this 2.000-kilometers destination of (mostly) paved road connects six different circuits running through three regions, where you can see 26 large rivers, 22 lakes, 17 active volcanoes and 12 national parks.

 

 

As you can guess, this special part of Chile promises lots of fun rides with the breathtaking landscape. In this blog, we give you 3 reasons why cycling is an incredible travel adventure to do in Chile.

 

1) The Lake and Volcano District is Chile’s bike-friendly destination 

 

From Temuco to Puerto Varas, we take you to bike the most scenic routes of the Lake and Volcano District. Your cycling adventure will be full of amazing landscapes composed of lakes, active volcanoes and the Andes mountain range. Moreover, you will observe some incredible endemic fauna and flora.

Cycling the roads of Chile’s Lake and Volcano District is the best way to explore this fascinating part of the country. Consequently, you will pedal alongside the Andes mountains, green rolling meadows and through national parks. In addition, you will visit local Mapuche villages and relax in soothing natural hot springs.

During our bike tours, you’ll get to explore the following highlights:

  • Kütralkura, Chile’s first UNESCO Geopark in the Malalcahuello National Reserve, always with the Lonquimay Volcano watching you.
  • Conguillio National Park and the Llaima volcano.
  • The Andes Mountain Range at the Alto Biobio National Reserve.
  • Pucón the Capital of Adventure Travel and the Villarrica Volcano, the most active of the territory
  • The 7-Lake Route and the Huilo-Huilo Biological Reserve, an awarded land trust for conservation.
  • Puerto Varas, the Llanquihue Lake with the largest bike lane, the Osorno Volcano and the Petrohue Waterfalls.

 

2) Pick your style: MTB, Road or Gravel Bike

 

 

Thanks to the abundance of roads surrounded by active volcanoes, pristine lakes and the Andes mountain range, the Lake and Volcano District has a lot of biking trails to offer. You’ll absolutely get fascinated by the diversity of landscapes at the wheels of your bike.

As mentioned above, the special part of Chile is full of surprises. Indeed, this destination offers even a huge variety of biking trails. If you are an adrenaline seeker, an avid challenger, or an amateur cyclist, you will definitely be amazed by our bike travel adventures.

 

Mountain Bike

 

Our Mountain Bike Adventure was especially designed by Ernesto Araneda, one of our top cyclist guides. He is the former national champion of XC MTB in 2004 and three times winner of silver medal at the Pan-American Games of XC MTB. 

 

 

This travel experience will take you off the beaten path, including the best bike trails of the Lake and Volcano District. You will absolutely love riding among endemic tree forests or descending the Villarrica Volcano in the famous national parks of the area.

 

Discover our MTB adventures with EVOC and Specialized Bicycles!

 

Road Cycling

 

If you’re more into paved roads, don’t worry. Our famous road cycling experience will make you ride the most beautiful and scenic roads of Chile. From the Malalcahuello National Reserve, through Pucón to Puerto Varas, this journey will never cease to surprise you.

Finally, our last ride in the Vicente Pérez Rosales National Park, gives you the opportunity to push your limits. Indeed, you will get to climb the Osorno Volcano and one of the steepest climbs of South America.

 

 

The group departure dates for our 8-Day Road Cycling Tour are already available for 2022-2023, check them out!

 

Gravel Bike

 

The last modality we added to our bike fleet, and by far the most versatile way to pedal the hidden off-the-beaten routes of the Lake and Volcano District. As a result, the gravel bike gives more possibilities when connecting sections and areas of both dirt and asphalt. 

And this is where we see a great opportunity to explore the dirt roads of the Lake and Volcano District. For us, it is an extraordinary chance to add new routes in all circuits where bike tours are not operated today due to lack of asphalt.

 

 

Group departure dates available for 2023, save your spot!

3) Discover the cultural sides of Chile

 

But not everything is about physical activity, adventure and amazing landscapes. So, we also make sure our bikers’ belly gets well treated with our delicious Chilean cuisine. During the bike rides, you will have all the necessary snacks to refill energy. For lunch, you will either get to eat the typical Chilean food in our selected restaurants, or get to have a zero-waste buffet picnic, prepared by our drivers on a perfect scenic spot.

Food in Chile is, likewise, one of the highlights of our bike tours. Great wine, fresh and flavorsome produce, seafood and all kinds of meat will be part of the daily menus. We are prepared to cater vegetarian, pescaterian, gluten free and dairy free food. 

On the other hand, and since 2019, we’ve been changing and improving our great picnic tables. Indeed, with the ambitious Zero Waste Challenge, we aim to reduce the generated waste during our travel adventures. 

Read more about our sustainable measures in the adventure travel industry!

And to make it memorable, you will experience an indigenous encounter with the Mapuche communities. You will have the privilege to share a typical dinner, drink some Yerba Mate and learn more about their ancestral culture.

 

 

As they are the first inhabitants of this ancestral territory, sharing with them is a great opportunity to really know the human identity of the Chilean territory.

 

Why choosing Amity Tours for your next bike adventure ?

 

Amity Tours, as a company, has been specializing since 2003 in active adventures such as hiking, trekking, skiing and cycling. Our headquarters are in the town of Pucón, located in Chile’s Lake and Volcano District.

Our main motivation to offer adventure experiences in this region is quite obvious. Along with being the best place for outdoor activities, we truly believe it is one the most beautiful regions of Chile. If not the most!

 

The philosophy of Adventure

 

First of all, we are proud to call ourselves a boutique adventure tour operator from Chile, where luxury nature tours are our standard.

At Amity Tours, we are all fanatics for new adventures. Our guides are living in a constant adventurous state, showing and sharing the most beautiful places of Chile to our fellow travelers. Our drivers are always on the move, they can’t stand still and love to explore new places on our scouting trips. Likewise, the whole office team spends its free time in a national park, or on a campground together with friends and family.

 

 

That is why one of the main cornerstones of our philosophy is ADVENTURE: We are an adventure travel company and we define “adventure” as an experience where culture and nature are the main elements.

 

Discover our team adventures gravel cycling the Llanquihue Lake!

 

Professional service and bike safety measures

 

At Amity, we aim to provide the best travel experiences in Chile. For us, it means that this comes with excellent service, comfortable hotels and great local food, beer and wine. 

Secondly, we make sure you find a true friend in our team of experienced and professional guides and drivers. They will show the best of Chile. Along with them, you’ll get to meet local people at every destination. Finally, they’ll make sure you discover the best hidden places that will take your breath away.

 

safety bike tour chile

 

As a responsible travel company, we want our travel adventurers to get the best experience possible. This is why we’ll make sure that safety always comes first.

Here are our most important measures taken during our bike trips:

  • Our professional guides and drivers always have with them a VHF radio. Communication is the main element in our staff.
  • We use SAG vehicles to carry all the food, water, snacks and all the gear needed for such activity. For those who can no longer ride, our vehicle is here to pick them up.
  • The helmet while riding is mandatory.
  • Van stops every 10 km or 20 km depending on group pace. Just to make sure everyone’s ok and enjoying the ride.
  • In our road cycling tours, for every 9 riders, 1 professional guide is in charge of guiding and support, and in our mountain biking tours, we use 1 guide per 6 riders.
  • At the beginning of our tours, we make sure a technical briefing is given regarding road rules and trail conditions.

 

Spring season has already arrived in Chile and we can’t wait for the upcoming bike adventures in Chile’s top destination! Discover the Lake and Volcano District, a fascinating part of the Chilean territory, where adventure meets nature and connects with the local human identity!

 

 

2022 Winter Adventures in Chile’s Lake and Volcano District

snowshoeing corralco chile

The winter in Chile is almost coming to an end. But before it happens, we went tasting the great snow powder during the ultimate ski adventures in southern Chile. During 7 days, we immersed in the beauty of the Lake and Volcano Scenic Route.

 

Last week, we traveled and enjoyed the winter sports with a very special delegation. Our friendly team, led by Cristián, Guido and Bernardo, received our international friends at Temuco Airport for a fantastic voyage. Outdoor adventures with spectacular landscapes, traditional and vanguardist cuisine, ancestral Mapuche culture and great 4-star hotels were the main ingredients.

In this post, you will discover the best of 4 circuits of the Lake and Volcano Scenic Route during winter.

 

Araucanía Andina

 

 

In the Lake and Volcano Scenic Route, the Araucania Andina is the northernmost of the 6 circuits constituting this part of southern Chile. Thanks to the presence of the Lonquimay, Llaima volcanoes and all the other active volcanoes around, we can observe how the volcanic activity has been shaping the landscape for ages.

At the same time, the circuit not only stands out for the geothermical activity of the area. Indeed, the Araucania Andina is also home to vast forests of the ancient araucaria tree (also monkey-puzzle). In fact, they are one of the oldest forests on Earth as its origin goes back to 180 millions years ago. On the other hand, the landscape also features imponent mountains of the Andes range, pristine lakes and whitewaters.

 

Ski Adventures at the Corralco Ski Resort

 

The Corralco Mountain Resort is located in the south slopes of Lonquimay volcano. This excellent ski resort is known for its excellent snow conditions. Proof of that, both the French and the USA ski racing teams have been training in Corralco since 2015, including Olympic gold medal Ted Ligety. 

 

 

Likewise, Corralco offers uncrowded ski runs for all levels of ski and snowboard lovers. The view from above is stunning, overlooking fantastic peaks of the Andean Araucanía, such as Sierra Nevada (2.554m) and Llaima volcano, as well as more distant landmarks like Lanín volcano (3.780m) to the south. Not to mention the vast 2,470 acres (1.000 hectares) ski domain to go off-piste through valleys and gullies. 

With the favorable weather conditions, our guide Guillo led our adventurers to ascend the Lonquimay volcano. From the new top t-bar lift, this activity consists in a 2-hour hike until reaching the massive crater of the Lonquimay volcano. Upon arrival at the top awarded by striking views, we then began skiing off-piste to the bottom of the slopes.

 

 

Snowshoeing El Coloradito trail

 

For non-skiers, we had another amazing adventure. In effect, we lived a fantastic journey through the most representative natural scenarios of the Araucaria Andina circuit. Ancient forests of Coigues and Araucarias, high steppes, mountain edges, views of volcanoes and remarkable geosites.

This hiking trail is fascinating, as it offers the possibility to discover and understand why the Malalcahuello National Reserve is, at the same time, part of both the Araucarias Biosphere Reserve and the Global Geoparks Network by UNESCO.

 

Sietelagos

 

 

After exploring the Lonquimay volcano in the Araucania Andina circuit, our adventure followed with the visit of the Sietelagos circuit. Encompassing 7 different lakes, this circuit possesses special characteristics such as the lush Valdivian forest and the Mocho-Choshuenco stratovolcano.

Highligh of the circuit, the Huilo Huilo Biological Reserve is a 100.000 hectares privately protected area in the Patagonian Andes. There, we stayed in the luxury Nothofagus Hotel and SPA, immersed in the middle of the temperate rainforest.

 

Foye Mapu Cultural Center

 

First thing first, we started our day in the Sietelagos circuit with a cultural encounter. As the Mapuche communities are the first inhabitants in the southern parts of Chile, visiting this Mapuche center is a must-do in order to connect with the Human identity of the Lake and Volcano Scenic Route.

Located at Panguipulli village, the Foye Mapu is a Mapuche cultural center run by Isabel Naguil and her family. As they belong to the Mapuche community, they shared with us their ancestral traditions, lifestyle and gastronomy.

 

 

Pirihueico Lake and natural hot springs

 

We ended our first in the Sietelagos circuit with a boat trip on the Pirihueico lake of glacial origin. During 30 minutes, and with the Mocho-Choshuenco at sight, we navigated the virgin shores of the lake alongside the native forest.

Upon arrival, we enjoyed the hot springs made of wooden jars made with old trunks in the middle of the forest. Finally, we headed to the Nothofagus Hotel and SPA for a well-deserved rest before another day full of outdoor adventures.

 

 

Mocho-Choshuenco volcano

 

During this day, we experienced the fantastic adventure of climbing 2 volcanoes in one day. After an early morning breakfast, we went through the native forest until reaching the snow. There, a cat ski was waiting to take us for an hour-long ride to a plateau, at the skirts of Mocho volcano.

As there aren’t any ski lifts, skinning and hiking are the only ways to reach the top of Mocho (2.422 meters / 7.946 feet) volcano. The views are absolutely amazing, overlooking the Lanín and Villarrica volcanoes. Afterwards, we went up skinning and climbing the Choshuenco volcano (2.415 meters / 7.923 feet) with breathtaking views over the Lanín and Villarrica volcanoes. 

On the other hand, for the non-skiers of the group, we experienced a magic randonnée walk crossing one of the slopes of the Mocho-Choshuenco volcano. There we could also admire a stunning view over the active volcanoes around.

 

 

 

Norpatagonia Circuit

 

 

 

 

The Norpatagonia circuit is the shortest of the Lake and Volcano Scenic Route. It comprises a territory formed by two large hydrographic basins: the Puyehue lake in the north, and the Rupanco lake in the south. Additionally, this beautiful Andean landscape highlights the silhouette of the Puyehue and the Puntiagudo volcanoes, not without mentioning the presence of Valdivian Temperate Rainforest.

As the weather conditions were not favorable for the ascent of the Casablanca volcano, we went for a snowshoe walk in the Puyehue National Park, before leaving towards the final circuit of this trip through the Lake and Volcano Scenic Route.

 

 

 

 

Llanquihue Circuit

 

For this last stage of this travel adventure, we stayed in the fantastic AWA Hotel & SPA. Located at the shores of the Llanquihue lake 20 minutes away from Puerto Varas, this hotel offers excellent accommodation with great SPA services.

After a cosy resting night, our travel adventure followed. So, as a grande finale, we went to explore the unmissable natural attractions of the Vicente Perez Rosales National Park. Todos Los Santos lake, Petrohue falls with the Osorno volcano in the background were the elements composing the landscape of the park.

 

 

Chile’s Lake and Volcano District is full of surprises! Discover this ancestral territory either by bike, by foot or by summer skiing the eternal snow-covered peaks of southern Chile.

 

 

The Lake and Volcano Scenic Route – Chile

osorno volcano llanquihue

Have you ever heard about the Red Interlagos in Southern Chile ? Also known as the Lake and Volcano Scenic Route, it crosses through areas of immense landscape, environmental and cultural values. Without a doubt, visiting this part of the Chilean territory is a must-do as you can compare its natural beauty to other wonders like the Atacama Desert and Patagonia.

 

At the present time, the Lake and Volcano Scenic Route features more than 2.000 kilometers of roads. All together, they connect 6 tourist circuits passing through 3 regions: La Araucanía, Los Lagos and Los Ríos. There, you can witness some of the greatest natural beauties in Chile such as 26 big rivers, 22 lakes, 17 active volcanes and no less than 12 national parks.

 

lake volcano scenic route chile
Map of the Lake and Volcano Scenic Route

 

Moreover, there exist 7 ski resorts and more than half the thermal areas of Chile. All these elements and so much more await you, come and see what southern Chile has to offer!

 

Araucanía Andina Circuit

 

The first circuit of the Lake and Volcano Scenic Route starts in Curacautín. There, you can admire two mountain areas characterized by the presence of the Lonquimay volcano and the Llaima volcano. Both of them also corresponds to two huge river basins of the Cautín and the Bíobío rivers. Not to mention the most characteristic icon of the circuit: the Araucaria Araucana tree (commonly the monkey puzzle tree). Indeed, it is a tree considered sacred by the Mapuche-Pehuenche culture.

In the middle of spectacular landscapes dominated by ancient forests, rivers and mountains, you can find some protected areas. First, there is the Malalcahuello National Reserve surrounding the Lonquimay volcano where you can find the Corralco Ski Resort, Chile’s top place to practice winter sports.

Second, you can visit 2 incredible national parks, such as the Tolhuaca but also the Conguillío. Interestingly, the latter is part of Chile’s first geopark, the Kutralkura, which is part of UNESCO Global Geoparks since 2017. Thanks to the large number of sites of geological interest, this special place reveals part of the natural environment where dinosaurs lived.

Under those circumstances, The BBC (British Broadcasting Corporation) refers to the Conguillio as one of the last refuges in the World to preserve the landscape where dinosaurs lived. As a result, part of the documentary “Walking with Dinosaurs“ was filmed in the park. 

Hence the high volcanic activity, the area allows the presence of various hot springs in the circuit. Among which there are the Malleco, manzana and Cañon del Blanco hot springs. By far, our favorite are the Malalcahuello hot springs, located in the Corralco hotel.

 

 

If you love mixing active adventures in nature with relaxing rest at hot springs, we suggest you to take a look at our following travel experiences:

 

Araucanía Lacustre Circuit

 

Furthermore, the Lake and Volcano Scenic Route is framed by the Villarrica volcano. In reality, Chile’s most active volcano is the great natural monument of the Araucanía Lacustre circuit. Bordered by the Lake of the same name, you can also find the quaint city of Pucón. It is the capital of adventure tourism.

 

 

As a matter of fact, this circuit stands as a safety pin in the Lake and Volcano Scenic Route. To put it differently, you can find an impressive list of outdoor adventures to do. For example, you can hike through thousand years old forests, or ascend the Villarrica volcano. As well as rafting on the Trancura river, in addition to relax in natural hot springs. Above all, you can get the chance to connect with the roots of the Mapuche culture. As they are the first inhabitants of the Chilean territory, sharing with them will allow you to learn more about their ancestral traditions and their cosmovision.

Obviously, the Huerquehue and the Villarrica national parks are the unmissable protected areas to tick off your travel bucket list.

Get to know this incredible area in the following travel experiences:

 

Sietelagos Circuit

 

In the Sietelagos circuit, the lush evergreen forests of the Valdivian rainforest will always accompany you. Alongside the only temperate rainforest in South American, you can also appreciate the beauty of 7 surprising lakes such as Calafquén, Panguipulli, Riñihue, Pellaifa, Neltume and Pirehueico.

 

 

The circuit has a strong Mapuche cultural identity, and an historical past linked to old wooden ports. Moreover, there exists an ecosystem that has hardly been explored. For instance, The Huilo Huilo Biological Reserve is the natural icone of this circuit. There, areas of scientific and conservation interests overlap globally. In fact, it is home of a great natural diversity. Thanks to its particular geography, you can find lakes of glacial origin, eternal snow on the Mocho-Choshuenco volcano and countless water streams.

To visit the best of the Sietelagos circuit, we recommend you to take a look at:

 

Lago Ranco Circuit

 

To point out, the Ranco Lake is the third largest in the Chilean territory. With an extension of 442 square kilometers, large cattle farms, exuberant lush Valdivian forest, waterfalls and breathtaking cliffs surround the lake. The fully paved road passes through villages and corners full of history which refer to a valuable railway heritage.

On the other hand, the Futangue Park is one of our favorite places to visit around Ranco Lake. With more than 100 kilometers of trails, this place marks the beginning of North Patagonia. Close to the Puyehue National Park, Futangue is a private nature reserve is located at the feet of the Andes mountain range.

Important to realize, this area has some of the best preserved specimens of the Valdivian forest. Thus, it is one of the most biodiversity centers on the planet.

 

 

Discover the Lago Rango circuit in our family adventures!

 

NorPatagonia Circuit

 

In the Lake and Volcano Scenic Route, NorPatagonia is the shortest and narrowest circuit. But not the least attractive. In fact, the Puyehue national park and the lake of the same name are both not-to-be-missed attractions of the area. Around them, you can visit natural hot springs, exuberant evergreen forests, ski center and active volcanoes.

 

 

 

Like every parts of southern Chile, this area also features a great volcanic activity due to the presence of the volcanic complex Puyehue-Cordón del Caulle. they are two coalesced volcanic edifices that form a major mountain massif in Puyehue national park. Consequently, recent eruptions have left huge beds of lava.

 

Read our hiking adventures in the Puyehue national park!

 

Llanquihue Lake Circuit

 

For many, the Llanquihue lake circuit simply represents the golden brooch of the Lake and Volcano Scenic Route. Surrounding Chile’s second largest lake, this circuit traverses the shadow of the mighty Osorno, Calbuco, Puntiagudo and Tronador volcanoes. They are some of the most beautiful landscapes in southern Chile.

Without a doubt, Puerto Varas is the base of the Llanquihue circuit. This city, like the other cities around the lake, gives account of an architectural identity strongly marked by the German influence. This legacy was left by the first German settlers in the 19s century. Not without mentioning the city of Frutillar which is part of the Creative Cities Network by UNESCO.

 

 

 

Among the natural attractions of the Llanquihue circuit, we find the Vicente Pérez Rosales national park, the Todos los Santos lake, and Chile’s largest bike path.

Discover the Llanquihue lake circuit in our recommended travel adventures:

 

Because the natural diversity in the Lake and Volcano Scenic route is a must-do when traveling to Chile, contact us for more info! We’ll gladly help you plan your next trip in Chile’s top destination.

5 Reasons to Visit Chile in 2022

travel destination

Chile is a paradise for nature lovers and outdoor enthusiasts. Within the country, you can find a diverse variety of landscapes including vineyards, volcanoes, deserts, beaches, lakes, glaciers and ancient forests. Adventure, people, nature are just a few of the reasons to travel to Chile in 2022.

 

In South America, Chile is the gateway to some of the most beautiful landscapes. Whether you want to hike up glaciers, explore mountains or paddle down rivers, the Chilean territory has it all! As well as its natural beauty, it also has a rich cultural history and many interesting things for travelers to do and see.

Indeed, with the Andes on one side and the Pacific on the other, there exists a world-class list of adventures to do. It’s more, in the Lake and Volcano District, Chile’s top destination, you can witness a blend of indigenous culture and European heritages that combine for a welcoming embrace. 

Here are five reasons to travel to Southern Chile in 2022!

 

1. Adventure Tourism in Chile

 

 

Can you guess what country has won the World Travel Awards Leading Adventure Tourism Destination for 5 consecutive years? Yes, Chile. It’s more, Chile has won the same title in South America for no less than 6 consecutive years.

To point out a few of Chile’s dazzling array of adventure experiences, you can:

  • Get your adrenaline working on a bike in the beautiful foothills, valleys and scenic routes
  • Hike the stunning national parks surrounded by ancient forests
  • Ascend some of the most active volcanoes in the world
  • Raft on the gorgeous and thrilling rivers and take on the heart-pounding runs of class 4 and 5 rapids
  • Kayak the pristine lakes
  • Skiing in the austral winter
  • And the list goes on and on…

2. Unexplored Travel Destination

 

 

Chile is a wonderful country full of contrasts and outstanding extremes. It is the largest and narrowest of South America. 4329 kilometers in length and 177 kilometers wide. Viewed from the map, it looks like a thin line drawn between the Pacific Ocean and the Andes mountain range; the longest and second highest of the planet.

As a result, Chile has been relatively cut off from the rest of the world due to its remote location. Therefore, the number of overseas tourists is not as overwhelming as in many other places, and there are areas in the country where you can find yourself to be the only visitor. People are friendly and there is no imminent danger.

Regarding the sanitary situation due to the global pandemic, Chile has become the first country in South America to inject the 4th dosis, and the second in the word after Israel. Consequently, Chile has positioned as one of the most effective countries worldwide to fight the covid crisis. Thus, ensuring a safe territory to visit.

 

3. Diverse Culture

 

Chile has a rich cultural heritage stretching back over 500 years. The Incan civilization was well established in the area when Spanish conquistador Pedro de Valdivia arrived in 1540 with soldiers and indigenous laborers. So, after independence from Spain in 1810, Chile began developing its own unique traditions and customs. Therefore, this reflects its complex history as an amalgamation of European culture with influences from the indigenous communities who have inhabited this territory well before the Europeans.

 

 

Under those circonstances, it’s hard to pin down a single cultural identity for Chile. Since the country opened up immigration to the Germans in the 1800s, entire towns in the Lake and Volcano District have been taken over by German settlers. There, you can find traditional homes, churches, and schools that will transport you to Bavaria.

Check out our gravel bike adventures around Llanquihue Lake, a magical place with a strong traditional German-style architecture!

 

4. Best Travel Adventures

 

From Santiago de Chile to Puerto Montt (the gateway to Patagonia), we find a wide variety of landscapes with lands covered with forests of araucarias and dotted with lagoons, rivers or lakes. Moreover, here and there, we can admire the active volcanoes of the Lake & Volcano District. Not without mentioning the northern beauties of the Atacama, the world’s driest desert in the world. Or even the Chilean Patagonia, a region of immense untouched beauty, where you will find some of the most jaw-dropping natural wonders in the world.

All in all, they are the perfect spot for nature lovers who enjoy outdoor adventures. Here’s a few suggestions of the best adventure travels you can experience when visiting Chile in 2022.

 

 

Hiking the most stunning national Parks of the Lake and Volcano District

 

In this 8-Day hiking tour, you will explore the most beautiful trails located in the national parks located in the unmissable Lake and Volcano District. Surrounded by mountains, pristine lakes and active volcanoes, you will explore the best hidden corners of Southern Chile, including UNESCO Kütralkura Geopark and Biological Reserve Araucarias.

 

 

The group departure dates are already available for the 2022-23 summer season!

 

Gravel biking the dirt roads of Southern Chile

 

Discover and pedal the hidden off-the-beaten routes of Chile’s Lake and Volcano District with the new gravel modality. During 8 days, you will explore the most famous national parks of the Lake and Volcano District, witnessing the most volcanic landscape between ancient forests and pristine lakes.

Moreover, you will also connect and share with the Mapuche communities, an authentic cultural encounter with the first inhabitants of this ancestral territory.

 

 

2022 group departure dates are already fully booked, save your spot for the 2023-24 summer season!

 

Explore by bike, by foot and kayak the northern and southern Patagonia

 

This multisport travel adventure is a true authentique experience, during which you explore the best hidden gems of both the Lake and Volcano District and Patagonia. In other words, this exclusive program covers and connects the wild and diverse landscapes of the Torres del Paine National Park, to the lush and exuberant temperate rainforest of the Pumalin Park. Not without mentioning a stunning starting at the foot of active volcanoes covered by unique forests of giant araucaria trees of the Conguillío National Park.

 

 

During 14 days, you will:

  • Bike between surreal lagoons, horseback ride through the wilderness, kayak pristine rivers and lakes with the best views of Torres del Paine Massif
  • Ride on the most scenic routes of the Lake and Volcano District, between snow-capped volcanoes
  • Discover the Patagonian Route of Parks and explore the Pumalín Park, an area run by the Tompkins Conservation.

 

Group departure dates are available for booking, don’t miss your chance!

 

5. Traveling with a local tour operator

 

When you travel, it’s important to support local businesses. One of the best ways to do this is by choosing a tour operator based in Chile. As a matter of fact, we are better able to provide a unique experience than the big foreign companies.

When visiting southern Chile with Amity Tours, our friendly team will allow you to explore this fascinating territory in a much more personal way. Plus, you’ll get to connect with the local communities, see how they make their living and respect their ancestral traditions. Thus, we are better able to provide you with a more authentic experience.

On the other end, we are fully commited to a responsible tourism. In effect, in 2019, we started our journey towards sustainability with our Zero Waste Challenge. This ambitious project aims to reduce the general waste generated during our travel adventures, creating a local circular economy and reinforcing a close connection we have with our local partners who share the same future vision of implementing a sustainable tourism in Chile’s Lake and Volcano District.

 

 

Not only we are working every day to minimize our impact on Planet Earth, we also taking part of an another ambitious project. Thanks to the Wiñolfe Anumka reforestation project, we recently manifested our wish to offset our 2019 carbon footprint in addition to our upcoming round trip to Switzerland to the Adventure Travel World Summit.

Together, with this local community based in Curarrehue, we planted 198 native trees and gave back to earth. It goes without saying that we plan on planting more and more each year that goes by.

 

Spring and summer seasons are getting closer. So, this means that a great high season will soon take place in Southern Chile! Follow our adventures on Instagram, and start planning your next travel plans in Chile by contacting us and we will provide you with the latest updates!

The best national parks in Chile’s Lake and Volcano District

villarrica park chile

Stretching from Temuco city in La Araucanía Region, down to Puerto Varas in Los Lagos Region, traveling through this world-class destination is a must-do when visiting Chile. Indeed, the famous Lake and Volcano District is a fascinating territory thanks to its biodiversity and exuberant nature.

 

If you consider yourself a true nature lover, you will find there a unique paradise on Earth. Ancient evergreen forests, crystal-clear lakes, active volcanoes, whitewater rivers, ancient glaciers and eternal snow peaks of the Andes mountain range. The wild, lush and exuberant nature of southern Chile is home to the most memorable and eco-friendly travel adventures like hiking or cycling.

In this article, we made you a list of our favorite national parks in the Lake and Volcano District. There, you will be able to experience the true identity of Chile’s top destination.

 

Conguillío National Park

 

The Conguillío national park is located 148 kilometers north-east of the city of Temuco. It covers a total area of 60.832 hectares. In Mapundungun,  the word “ko-nquillio” which means “pine nuts in the water”. The name is based upon the abundance of the araucaria trees and the surrounding lakes shaping the landscape of the park.

 

 

Among its main attractions, the Llaima volcano (3.200m) stands out the most. Dominating the landscape, the volcano is surrounded by its lakes of volcanic formation and its forests of ancient araucarias.

Consequently, the Conguillio national park receives an average of 100.000 visitors a year, making it one of the most visited parks of Chile. Recently, it was designated by the BBC as one of the last places on earth protecting the landscape where once lived the dinosaurs.

 

 

Our favorite hike to do is the Sierra Nevada trail with amazing views over the Conguillío Lake, Blanco River and the Llaima Volcano. With an area covering approximately 60.883 hectares, the park is part of the Araucaria Biosphere Reserve. Least but not last, it is also the heart of Chile’s first geopark: the Kutralkura, which has been part of the UNESCO Global Geoparks Network since 2017.

You can visit the Conguillio National park in the following travel adventures:

 

Villarrica National Park

 

Located in The Andes mountain range, the Villarrica national park is a protected wildlife area. The impressive volcanoes, stunning endemic tree forests, rivers and lake are the top components of the landscape. The Villarrica Volcano (2.847 m.) is the main touristic attraction.

In addition, you can also appreciate the Quetrupillan (2.382 m.) and Lanín (3.776 m.) volcanoes. During winter, it is possible to ski the Villarrica volcano. The ascent to the top is also available all year long, depending on the weather conditions. At the foothills, there are various hiking trails leading to amazing lookout points.

 

 

Finally, The park boasts a total of 63.000 hectares of endemic tree forests such as araucaria, raulí, lenga, etc. The forested areas allow the existence of a diverse fauna like puma, chilla fox, pudu deer, and the small native marsupial monito del monte, among others.

You can explore the Villarrica National Park during the following travel adventures:

Huerquehue National Park

 

Equally important, the Huerquehue national park is located in the foothills of the Andes mountain range, in La Araucanía Region of Chile. It has a an area of 12.500 hectares composed of hills and moutains surrounding small lakes and lagoons of cristaline water.

In Mapundungun, the Mapuche’s native language, it means “place of messengers”. This park was created in 1967 with terrains unoccupied by the colons.

 

 

There are 2 main hiking trails available in the Huerquehue. First, los Lagos Trail, is an easy 12-kilometer long in which you can visit waterfalls, lagoons along with stunning views over the Caburgua Lake and the Villarrica volcano. The second, is the San Sebastian Trail, of an intermediate level of difficulty. The hiking trail is approximately 13-kilometer long. The final reward of the hike is the panoramic views over the surrounding volcanoes (Lanín, Villarrica, Quetrupillan, Llaima) and the Tinquilco and Caburgua Lakes.

Vicente Perez Rosales National Park

 

The Vicente Perez Rosales National Park is the oldest park in the country. A key component of the Temperate Rain forests of the Austral Andes Biosphere Reserve, it is located in an area where volcanism has been, along with tectonic processes and glaciers. Therefore, they represent the main factors that shaped the Andes mountain range.

Geographically, It covers an area of 251,000 hectares (619,970 acres), incorporating the park’s centerpiece: Todos los Santos Lake, Petrohué Waterfalls, Osorno and Puntiagudo Volcanoes.

There, we particularly love to hike featuring the great beauties of Los Lagos region. The first one is the “Paso Desolación” trail, which crosses the national park from the North face of the Osorno Volcano towards the South-East, all the way to the Petrohue sector. Originally, it was a cattle trail used for animal transportation between the Todos Los Santos Lake and the Llanquihue Lake via the Desolación pass.

 

 

Moreover, we love to hike “El Solitario Trail”. Indeed, it is a simple, short and fairly flat route that allows its visitors to appreciate the Osorno Volcano from the Vicente Pérez Rosales National Park. First you start hiking through a native forest with the volcano at sight during the entire route. Then, you pass by a valley covered with lava flows formed by old eruptions. Finally, you arrive at the road leading to the Osorno Volcano.

You can visit the Vicente Perez Rosales National Park during the following travel adventures:

 

When to visit the national parks in Chile’s Lake and Volcano District

 

If you consider visiting this incredible part of Chile, we highly suggest you to come in spring/summer. Indeed, during winter (June to September), it rains and snows in the region. So, it makes the use of raquets mandatory, since the snow covers all of the hiking trails.

 

weather chile lake volcano district
Weather and average temperatures in the Lake and Volcano District

 

On the other hand, during spring and summer (october to march), the weather provides an ideal time and perfect conditions to visit the national parks.

Finally, during fall season (april to may), the parks shine with a true spectacle of colors. The leaves of the endemic trees lose their green color and slowly switches to yellow and red colors.

 

If you loved this post, don’t forget to share it with your friends travelers. Also, when interested in visiting the Lake and Volcano District, don’t hesitate to contact us! We will provide you with all the information regarding the greatest travel adventures you can live in southern Chile.

 

 

 

 

 

Climate Action in the Adventure Travel Industry – Reforestation Project

reforestation chile

In 2019, going zero waste was the first step we took towards a sustainable tourism. But in 2022, we are taking our game up to the next level: offsetting our carbon footprint.

 

In our last post, we explained all the sustainable measures and changes we’ve applied since before the arrival of the global pandemic. We are always looking for improvement and how to minimize our impact on Mother Earth when visiting Chile’s Lake and Volcano District with our international friends.  

The upcoming World Travel Adventure Summit event by ATTA will take place in the city of Lugano in Switzerland. On 3-6 October, our team member Angela will engage in networking opportunities in the marketplace. She will also hear from inspirational speakers regarding sustainable tourism as it will be the main theme of this yearly event.

As we are very conscious about the carbon footprint that this journey implies to travel from Chile to Switzerland and back, we partnered up with a great local reforestation project in order to neutralize this impact.

 

How it started

 

Shortly after starting our Zero Waste Challenge in 2019, we contacted a local partner, Rutas Ancestrales Araucarias in order to find a solution about offsetting our carbon emissions on a local basis. For many years, we have been working together with the award-winning community based project by connecting our international visitors from all over the world with the local culture. Togehter with Romá Martí, leader of this great community based tourism project in Curarrehue, we came up with the idea of a great project.

After sharing our future vision to become a carbon neutral company by supporting a local organization, Romá compromised with providing us a sustainable solution for our environmental issue. As some of his partners of the community-based tourism network already had years of experience in planting native tree species in the area, a new great project was born: Wiñolfe Anumka.

 

Wiñolfe Anumka: native tree reforestation project

 

The Wiñolfe Anumka local network was created as an alternative for the community-based tourism in Curarrehue. Indeed, after the drastic fall in the arrival of international tourists due to the coronavirus pandemic, this local project started with the construction of family greenhouses. It gave life to new native trees for their further reforestation. 

 

araucaria tree plant
Native araucaria tree plant

 

Unfortunately, in Amity, the negative effect of the global pandemic forced us to temporarily retreat from this great initiative. On the other side, the Wiñolfe Anumka network realized the potential of our wish to offset our carbon footprint. As a result, the idea of regenerating the native forests pursued.

Nowadays, the Wiñolfe Anumka counts on 4 family green houses, a thousand native plants along with the first native tree cores’ reforestation. Additionally, the network also designed a new financing model and is currently processing the first production areas.

Indeed, this incredible red invites each local and/or organization, regardless of the size and business model, to take the responsibility of the generated impact by the way of living and thus mitigating the damage on the regeneration of the native forests.

 

wiñolfe anumka
The Wiñolfe Anumka local members

 

The ancestral spirit of the native regeneration during a global crisis

 

All of the members taking part of the Wiñolfe Anumka project agree that the distinguishing attribute is the active role of the local community with a strong presence of the Mapuche culture in the process of the plant breeding and reforestation. In fact, it is an associative work, strongly connected to families and knowledge from diverse origins.

Rosa Parra Epulef lives near Curarrehue. She is one of the founders of the Wiñolfe Anumka network and a plant breeder. Before the pandemic, she received the tourists who hiked the trail crossing her land which is surrounded by an exuberant native forest. Nowadays, she combines her work in the field with her participation in the reforestation project.

rosa parra
Rosa Parra

 

Rosa is responsible of one of the tree nurseries. She proudly says: “I take care of 188 plants. I have varieties like Hualle (Nothofagus obliqua), Chilean fire tree (Embothrium coccineum), Laurel (Laurus nobilis), Monkey puzzle tree (Araucaria araucana) and Mañío (Podocarpus nubigenus).

But more importantly, her work has a true ancestral meaning. Indeed, she explains that there’s no such thing as a difference between her and her territory. She expresses: “I was born in the countryside, my mom gave birth to her children here in this house surrounded by the native forest which still exists. I feel great satisfaction living here, which makes me keep on caring about this territory. Because I also have kids on my own, and grandchildren and I have to pass on this important value in order for them to learn to take care of it.”

The different tasks in the greenhouse are seasonal, and nature sets the pace. Rosa describes: “I have to maintain the tree nursery, like bagging up and making sure that the plants don’t dry, and water them. Moreover, I have to prepare the land and here we do have natural fertilizer.”

 

A climate action for a global issue

 

Moreover, it’s worth saying that two forest engineers lead the project, Martín Erdmann is one of them. He understands that reforestation responds to the emergency of the global climate crisis and our current way of life.

He explains: “Despite the great extensions of the native forests in the region, we mainly find them in the mountain range. But there also exist valleys, river banks and livestock-based farming which also need reforestation. So, planting native trees seeks to rebalance the ecosystems where we produce the necessary services of life.”

In addition, he details that they nurse the plants for 2 years before taking them to the definitive planting place. When reforesting, the core technique consists in planting 20 trees group wide. One tree occupies 1 square feet per space. Thus, this method imitates the natural reforestation or a forest, which differs from the traditional planting method in row.

 

More to come in the upcoming future

 

During 2022, the project is getting ready for the second season of native reforestation. During the first operational year, the process included collecting and conserving the native seeds. But also the work of the local families who reproduce the trees. Not without mentioning the great forest keepers. They are local women from the Mapuche community who facilitate their land. For the next 20 years, they will take care of the reforestation Curarrehue, in Chile’s Lake and Volcano District.

For 2023, the community hopes to reforest at least 23 tree centers, duplicate the planting production in greenhouses. They also wish to increase the number of people and organizations which collaborate in the project.

 

wiñolfe anumka
Angela our team member visiting a tree nursery in Curarrehue

 

Cristián, Amity Tours CEO, planting the first native trees of our carbon neutral project.
In Amity, we are very proud to partake in the reforestation initiative. Indeed, during the month of July, we will realize our first reforestation by planting 11 tree cores of 20 trees. It consequently represents 50 tons of CO2 carbons. By doing such action, we will compensate for our estimated 2019 carbon footprint, but also the flight emission for the upcoming ATTA event in Switzerland.

Sustainability in Chile – Adventure Travel Industry

zero waste chile

Each year, people across the globe produce billions of tons of waste. It is estimated that 2.01 billion tons of solid waste was produced in 2016. Accordingly, the World Bank predicts that this number could rise to 3.4 billion tons by 2050.

 

 

The tourism industry is deeply interlinked with and dependent on multiple key resource flows, asset and commodity value chains in society. It’s more, travel and tourism actors can act as powerful enablers of circularity and benefit from shared circular creation and capture within relevant value chains.

In order to build back better, a new thinking, a new framing of tourism activities is needed. All tourism sectors should question the purpose of their operations and the environmental, social, and economic impacts of their business models.

 

Waste problem in Chile

 

In Chile, more than 40% of all the generated waste ends up in landfills without a minimum of sanitary requirements. This means that the groundwater and the river streams are affected directly, as well as the Pacific Ocean.

 

waste chile
Illegal waste landfill in the Atacama Desert

 

In the travel industry, this issue has affected us on a daily basis. Since 2003, Amity Tours organizes travel adventures in wilderness and protected areas, where responsible practices are fundamental. Since the beginning of our operations, sustainability has always been an important aspect of our travel experiences. As of today, it has become a number one priority for us.

 

Zero Waste Challenge (from 2019): on our way to become the first zero waste tour operator in Chile

 

In light of this both global and local issue, and as the leading tour operator in Chile’s Lake and Volcano District, we couldn’t turn a blind eye on the negative impact we produced with the generated waste on our trips. So, we decided to involve our business model in this global fight by starting a new challenge.

First, we had to evaluate the critical points where we generate waste. We quickly realized that most of our waste issue came from our picnic tables and our grosery shopping list. Thus, we implemented the 3R concept with the following solutions:

 

sustainability chileReduce

In order to prevent the production of waste, we partnered up with local and organic food suppliers. Buying in bulk avoids the use of disposable plastics. Plus, it also fuels the local economy.

sustainability

Reuse

We donate all of the remaining reusable water bottles after each operations’ season. In 2019, we donated approximately 450 bottles to local sport clubs. Moreover, we highly encourage our clients to bring their own water bottles.

sustainability chile

Recycling

At our main office we installed a recycling point. We separate plastic, cans, glass, paper/cardboard, and of course, all the organic waste generated at our office. Our chicken at the headquarter are happy about every food waste.

During the trips our guides and drivers set up a dismountable recycling point where clients and staff can dispose the residues. These will be collected at the hotels visiting during the trip. In addition, we separate and collect the organic waste to be transformed into compost. This compost will be used for our vegetables garden located at Amity Headquarters.

 

 

Moreover, we encourage our local partners to join the Zero Waste Challenge. Sustainable practices and waste management are important points when choosing both accommodation and food suppliers. For this, we maintain a close relationship with AWA hotel in Puerto Varas which has implemented sustainable measures in their facilities.

 

2021: Amity becomes part of the Fundación Basura Chile

 

fundacion basura chile

Fundación Basura is a non-profit, non-governmental, social and environmental building-awareness organization with a legal personality under private law. Their objective is to recover the value housed in objects that we commonly call waste through the collection and re-insertion in new operating cycles by implementing a Zero Waste lifestyle in Chile.

In other words, Fundación Basura seeks to generate a social and environmental awareness in Chile around implementing a zero-waste lifestyle. Thus, avoiding the general waste to end in illegal landfills and the further consequent impacts on both the environment and people’s quality of life. Hence, this community trains active change agents, which hopefully will enable the country to move towards economic, social and environmentally sustainable development, generating interdisciplinary, intercultural and intergenerational projects and programs.

When looking for new sustainable practices to implement in our tour operation, we came across this community and applied to join it. In order to do so, we followed training classes about the zero-waste lifestyle.

 

zero waste chile
We are proud of our zero-waste picnic table

 

As a result, we can happily say that we are officially part of the future change by being member of Fundación Basura Chile since 2021. They choose us as the case of success for their online course Zero Waste At Outdoor Activities.

 

2021: Tourism Declares Climate Emergency (so does Amity Tours)

 

While we were investigating about how to become a Zero Waste Company, a whole new world opened up. Indeed, we learned about sustainable practices for tour operators and also found great local alternatives for our previous waste problems.

During these researches, we stumbled over the Tourism Declares Climate Emergency website. This global community has declared a climate emergency and the different actors came together to plan a better future for tourism.

As a result, we immediately declared as Amity Tours by committing to act in order to cut our global emissions in half over the next decade. Here’s our first Climate Action Plan.

Being part of the Tourism Declares Community means sharing ideas, challenges and solutions, so that together we can create a new, regenerative tourism industry built on the principles of climate justice.

 

2022: Offsetting our carbon footprint with a local tree planting

 

In Amity, we are conscious of the environmental impacts as a business. Consequently, we need to reduce our own carbon footprint and offset our unavoidable emissions to support the transition to a low-carbon sustainable future. Indeed, carbon offsetting alone won’t fix the climate crisis. Despite that, we truly believe that each step towards a climate positive society is worth any effort.

We want to make changes, share progresses and solutions. So, shortly after starting our Zero Waste Challenge in 2019, we contacted a local partner, Rutas Ancestrales Araucarias in order to discuss a solution about offsetting our carbon emissions on a local basis. For many years, we have been working together with the award-winning community based project by connecting our international visitors from all over the world with the local culture.

Afterwards, we shared with them our future vision regarding sustainability. We got to know about a reforestation project in Currarehue, located just a few kilometers away from our headquarters. After our first meeting, we invited forestry engineers to join the project. They made a great case study of the local trees and their capacity of carbon capture. That is who a whole new project was born: Wiñolfe Anumka (travelling trees in the Mapuche language), a tree planting project with local families.

 

 

Today, we are very happy to announce that our team will be executing the first reforestation of 220 native trees. In July 2022, we will be planting 11 tree cores that include 20 trees in each of them. Consequently, it represents 50 tons of CO2 carbon capture for the estimated 2019 carbon footprint, in addition to the flight emissions for the upcoming ATTA Summit event in Switzerland.
Furthermore, we are working on the carbon footprint calculation 2021 and the updated Climate Emergency Plan. We will keep you up to date!

 

Multisport experience – Lake and Volcano District Scenic Route Chile

multisport chile

Over the last few months, Amity Tours has been working on new sustainable routes to explore in an eco-friendly way Chile’s Lake and Volcano District. This new multisport experience will delight you when exploring the stunning natural attractions. With the presence of the ancient native forests, lakes, rivers of multicolored waters, glaciers and active volcanoes, Southern Chile has a lot to offer.

 

Experiencing southern Chile is a singular and sustainable experience. Indeed, it allows you to encounter yourself with the unique beauty of La Araucanía, Los Ríos and Los Lagos regions. It’s more, you get to enjoy it all alongside the Mapuche indigenous communities, who have inhabited these ancestral territories for ages.

 

About the Lake and Volcano Scenic Route

 

The first scenic route in Chile, the Lake and Volcano Scenic Route, is a world-class destination powered by the CORFO, a production development organization. In fact, for the past 20 years, this governmental organization has been consolidating a network of 6 different circuits that allow every nature lover to explore the unmissable attractions of the Lake and Volcano District.

 

multisport experience chile
Paso Desolación hiking trail, Vicente Perez Rosales national park

 

With approximately 2000 kilometers of geography shaped by the force of volcanism and bathed by great pristine lakes, this scenic route has a unique layout that will take your breath away. But what makes this destination particularly interesting to visit, are the guided multisport experiences that have been purposely created for the international visitors to explore the Lake and Volcano Scenic Route in a safe way.

Since 2008, we have been working hand by hand with the governmental organization in the elaboration of the first scenic route of Chile. Our last collaboration led to the development of 6 guided and sustainable multisport experiences. In other words, it allows you to travel through the Lake and Volcano District by foot, bike, or water. Without mentioning the cultural encounters with the Mapuche indigenous communities who share with us their ancestral knowledge and cosmovision of the world

 

Multisport Experience – Llanquihue Lake Circuit 

 

Last March, CEO Cristián Levy went guiding the incredible multisport experience in the Llanquihue Circuit accompanied by Ladera Sur national press and SUDA, our app partner. For this occasion, we did an active tour that can turn into a more passive and contemplative experience for families with young children.

Discover the incredible multisport route we lived!

 

ebike llanquihue lake

 

Day 1 – Kayaking Río Puelo

 

We kicked off this incredible adventure where geographical Patagonia begins in Caleta La Arena. The crossing of the Reloncaví Estuary emulates the routes that were used by the Mapuche and also the European settlers ages ago. Sadly, this area suffered from the massive exploitation of the Alerce Andino native tree, in order to build the churches of Chiloé Island in the 1700’s. Therefore, the presence of this ancient tree has consequently reduced in the coastal area of Cochamó.

Our first adventure started at Río Puelo, a mandatory stop for the practice of water sports such as kayaking. Indeed, this river of crystalline and multicolored waters has an extension of approximately 80 kilometers. It starts in Argentina in the homonymous lake, crosses the western side of the Andes and flows into the fjord of Reloncaví in Chile, where it meets the Pacific ocean.

 

 

Along the river, we could observe traces of the glaciers that gave rise to Río Puelo. At the same time, this beautiful water course could demonstrate to us that water has a key role in the connectivity of the roads in Patagonia. 

We explored the last section of the river, before it connects with the Pacific ocean. For this, we paddle on kayak for approximately 7 kilometers, during which we could observe various waterfalls in addition to the local flora and fauna.  

 

Discover this route on SUDA, our application partner.

 

Day 2 – Horsebackriding Cochamó Valley

 

On the second day, we dived into the ancestral history of Cochamó and the Ralún area. Indeed, we explored the route anciently used by the Mapuche and the European settlers. Thus, the experience seeks to emulate a journey made by our ancestors, going through places they used to cross.

In Mapudungun, the Mapuche’s native tongue, Cochamó means “Union of waters”. This place connects the waters coming from the Andes mountain range with the Pacific ocean where the intermediate depression joins. Nowadays, Cochamó continues to be a place of connection since it is where ends the Lake and Volcano Scenic Route ends, and where starts the Route of Parks.

On the other hand, Cochamó and Puelo also allow the connection between the fishing culture and the Gaucho culture. Since the rivers are the veins, thus roads that local people traditionally use.

So, in order to better understand how Patagonia works, we went deeper into the Cochamó valley horseback riding one of the arms of the Cayutué lake towards the native forests. Carlos, our guide, highlights the fact that: “you start horseback riding thinking you’re leaving the fjord behind. But in reality, you’re going to its origin. The water is what connects the route.”

 

 

At some point of the Cayutué lake, we could appreciate a terrific view over the high peaks of the area. We continued on Río Conchas, a connecting dot between the Cayutué lake and the final destination of our day. After a few hours crossing native forests, we finally arrived at Todos Los Santos lake located at the Vicente Perez Rosales national park.

It is worth mentioning that this route has been used historically, and continues to be used by the locals naturally following the course of the river. Nowadays, the muleteers of the sectors still respect this tradition. Consequently, you can only live this singular experience carefully guided by the local guides. 

 

 

Carlos, our local guide, concludes: “Thanks to this journey, you get to really see how Patagonia works. A place where the rivers are the roads. So here you will experience the local life, doing exactly as the locals, not what the typical tourists do. In Cochamó, for example, we can meet with both the muleteer and the fishing culture. The connection of the valleys allows the Gauchos and the fishermen to coexist. Only here in Cochamó, you have the possibility to contemplate that particular blend of cultures.”

 

Discover this route on SUDA!

 

Day 3.  Paso Desolación hiking trail – Vicente Perez Rosales National Park

 

For the third day of our multisport adventure, we hiked the Paso Desolación trail at the foothills of the Osorno Volcano. The Osorno is a stratovolcano that forms a volcanic chain with La Picada and Puntiagudo volcanoes.

We particularly love this hike since we get to appreciate the Todos Los Santos lake with the high peaks around. Moreover, the culmination point reaches the surroundings of the Llanquihue lake, making this hike a complete experience contemplating new sectors. 

The trail starts in a native forest, passing through flat areas and crossing up to three large alluviums generated by ancient eruptions. Product of the volcanic activity of the Osorno, the trail is mostly sandy and we can easily find volcanic rocks and pyroclastic material.

 

 

Discover this route on SUDA!

 

Day 4 – Cycling Llanquihue Lake from Las Cascadas to Frutillar

 

Our last day of this great multisport experience is full of adventures. Indeed, we cycled 45 kilometers around Llanquihue lake, Chile’s best bike-friendly destination. Great thing about living this experience: you can choose between cycling an e-bike, or gravel bike. Thus, it allows every traveler to experience the stunning opportunity to cycle around Llanquihue lake.

 

Check our last adventure gravel cycling around Llanquihue Lake!

 

 

The ride never ceases to surprise, well we get to always appreciate the Osorno volcano in all its splendor. Not without mentioning the impressive Puntiagudo and Calbuco volcanoes. Alongside these great peaks, we pass Puerto Octay, before reaching the last point of this cycling ride: Frutillar.

And since not everything is about physical activity, we visit our friends at Cancagua SPA. This great project aims to provide the best bath relaxation with the least impact on the ecosystems around. As a result, we get to contemplate Llanquihue Lake while enjoying a relaxing bath.

 

 

Finally, after re-energizing our mind and body, the multisport experience ended with a 16-kilometers kayak paddling on Maullín river. This river offers great conditions for us to navigate on, and to also connect with the sound of nature. Actually, with a large extension of 85 kilometers long, it allows the connectivity between the different localities around Llanquihue lake.

 

The multisport adventure offers the opportunity to experience the Lake and Volcano District in a unique way. Indeed, you get to sustainably explore southern Chile by foot, by bike or by kayak; in addition to truly connect with the local people who have inhabited these ancestral territories for ages. We invite you to check out the best multisport experiences and get inspired for your next travel!

 

Active adventures in Chile’s Lake and Volcano District

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.

 

tourists cycling the lake and volcano district of Chile
A pause for a pose while cycling around the lakes of southern Chile

 

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.

 

lake volcano district chile map
Map of the Lake and Volcano District

 

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.

 

llaima volcano conguillio park chile
View of the Llaima volcano, Sierra Nevada trail hike. Conguillio National Park

 

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

 

kutralkura geopark unesco chile
Map of the Kutralkura 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.

 

mountain bike chile
Mountain biking surrounding by ancient araucaria tree sand volcanoes in Malalcahuello

 

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.

 

mapuche chile
Sharing a cultural encounter with the Mapuche community is the best way to connect with the human face of the Lake and Volcano District

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.

 

conguillio park sierra nevada
Sierra Nevada trail, always with the Villarrica volcano at sight

 

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.

 

sierra nevada trail conguillio
Ancient tree forest

 

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.

 

Admiring the Llaima volcano alongside the araucaria trees
Admiring the Llaima volcano alongside the araucaria trees

 

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.

 

gravel bike chile conguillio
Amity guide Baudio leading the way towards the Conguillio National Park

 

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.

 

llaima conguillio park
The Llaima volcano greeting us when arriving at Conguillio National Park

 

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).

 

mountain bike lonquimay chile
Mountain biking around the Lonquimay volcano

 

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.

Watch the great adventures we had with our international partners H+I Adventures and Evoc in the Malalcahuello National Reserve.

 

 

 

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.

 

pucon villarrica volcano
Pucón and the Villarrica volcano

 

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.

 

Exploring the hiking trails around the Villarrica volcano

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.

 

Villarrica volcano hike
Villarrica volcano hike

 

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.

 

road cycling chile pucon
Road cycling towards the Andes mountain range between volcanoes and araucaria trees

 

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.

And because sometimes videos speak louder than words, check the mountain bike adventures we had with our international partners H+I Adventures and Specialized Bicycle.

 

 

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.

 

villarrica volcano gravel bike chile
gravel biking at the feet of the Villarrica volcano

 

Check out our new gravel bike tour that blends adventure, ancestral culture all together with outstanding nature.

 

Seven-Lake Circuit

 

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.

 

Road cycling the Seven-Lake route is the highlight of the Lake and Volcano District

 

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.

 

Llanquihue Lake

 

llanquihue lake chile
Starting point of the cycling day at Llanquihue lake

 

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.

 

cycling chile
Cycling around the llanquihue Lake

We give thanks to each moment shared with our friends from all over the world. During this great summer season, we loved to connect again to share beauty of the Lake and Volcano District.

Stay tuned for our next active adventures!

Sustainable Practices at Amity Tours

It all started with a big dream: Amity Tours wants to become a Zero Waste Company. As simple as that. What might sound easy, is in fact the beginning of a long journey. A fascinating one without any doubt. Let’s dive into the beginning of this long sustainable trip.

 

Our Zero Waste Challenge

 

As a company offering responsible tourism in Chile’s Lake & Volcano District, Atacama Desert and Patagonia of Chile since 2003, we decided to take a new challenge towards becoming a Zero Waste Company. As a result, we are implementing several new measures: 

 

REDUCE, REUSE, RECYCLE AND MUCH MORE.

 

sustainability chileReduce

In order to prevent the production of waste, we have partnered up with local & organic food suppliers. This allows us to buy in bulk. Thus, it avoids the use of disposable plastics but also fuel the local economy.

sustainability

Reuse

We donate all of the remaining reusable water bottles after each operations’ season. In 2019, approximately 450 bottles were donated to local sport clubs. Moreover, we highly encourage our clients to bring their own water bottles.

sustainability chile

Recycling

At our main office we installed a recycling point. We separate Plastic, Cans, Glass, Paper/Cardboard, and of course, all the organic waste generated at our office. Our chicken at the headquarter are happy about every food waste.

During the trips our guides and drivers set up a dismountable recycling point where clients and staff can dispose the residues. These will be collected at the hotels visiting during the trip. In addition, we separate and collect the organic waste to be transformed into compost. This compost will be used for our vegetables garden located at Amity Headquarters.

We are encouraging our local partners to join the Zero Waste Challenge. Sustainable practices and waste management are important focuses by electing our accommodations and food suppliers during the trips. Our goal is it to contribute to a first Zero Waste Destination in Chile.

 

Since 2021 we’ve been forming part of the Zero Waste Community of the Fundación Basura in Chile.

 

Our chicken waiting for their food
Our chicken waiting for their food. You can see our recycling point and warehouse in the backdrop.

 

Tourism Declares Climate Emergency

 

While we were investigating about how to become a Zero Waste Company, a whole new world opened up. We learned about sustainable practices for tour operators and found great local alternatives for our previous waste problems.

During these searches we stumble over the Tourism Declares Climate Emergency website. A global community who has declared a climate emergency and came together to plan a better future for tourism. We immediately declared as Amity Tours and committed to act in order to cut global emissions in half over the next decade. We just finished our first Climate Action Plan.

Being part of the Tourism Declares Community means sharing ideas, challenges and solutions, so that together we can create a new, regenerative tourism industry built on the principles of climate justice.

 

 

climate emergency
Llaima volcano (3.125 meters) from Sollipulli volcano.

 

Carbon what?

 

During our journey we read a lot about carbon footprint, how to offset it or even how to remove existing carbon from the atmosphere. Carbon offset, carbon removal, carbon capture, carbon neutral, climate positive… A complete new area for all of us, and we got a little confused with all these different terms. In a few words we would like to explain each concept in order to give you an idea about our decisions.

 

Offsetting your carbon footprint

 

Carbon offsetting is an internationally recognized way for companies or individuals to manage the carbon emissions that are not able to completely eliminate. The emissions are getting calculated and an equal amount will be invested in projects that reduce or remove emissions.

Need an example: It is like, eating a chocolate bar with 500 calories. Afterwards you bike to the Caburgua Lake and burn the 500 calories. That is how the actual impact (in terms of calories) of eating the chocolate bar would be zero.

Now let’s apply this concept into carbon offsetting: The chocolate bar in this case would be the carbon footprint and burning the calories is offsetting it into projects where carbon is getting removed from the atmosphere (by buying carbon credits from projects, such as reforestation, renewable energy).

 

Carbon removal or Carbon capture

 

Carbon removal means capturing carbon dioxide (CO2) from the atmosphere and locking it away for decades or centuries in plants, soils, oceans, rocks, saline aquifers, depleted oil wells, or long- lived products like cement. source: Tommorows Air

 

Getting Carbon neutral

 

Carbon neutral means taking action to reduce and remove as much carbon from the atmosphere as an organisation puts into it. Being carbon neutral means that an organization has a carbon footprint equal to zero.

 

Getting Climate positive

 

Getting climate positive is going one step further then reaching the carbon neutrality. That can be reached by creating greater environmental benefits, than the actual carbon footprint. You can remove additional carbon dioxide from the atmosphere for example.

At Amity we are conscious of the environmental impacts as a business. That is why we need to reduce our own carbon footprint and offset our unavoidable emissions. Since the beginning of our trajectory we have been focusing on responsible and sustainable tourism practices. A fact that also gets reflected in our Conservations Tours.

 

 

sustainable chile

 

Amity Tours and Conservation Tourism

 

We love supporting projects, that are providing benefits to the local communities and environment. Here a few examples we have worked on during our 18 years:

 

Kütralkura – Chile’s First Geopark

 

An amazing example of how geo-sciences connect with local culture for the conservation of the geological and cultural heritage of this landscape in Chile’s Lake & Volcano District.

 

 

 

Mapuche Tourism – Valle del Kuel

 

The objective of the project was to put in touristic value the heritage resource “kuel” of the valleys of Lumaco and Purén. A heritage considered by national and international archaeologists as one of the most important and unknown of the original Mapuche people.

 

 

 

Asi Conserva Chile and WWF

 

The project sought to value, through the design of tourism conservation products, private and community conservation initiatives that make up the trade association “Así Conserva Chile“.
A 100% tour operator pilot focused on conservation tourism was implemented. Where we assured in it all the skills and abilities necessary to sustain itself over time.

 

 

https://www.adventuretravelnews.com/working-with-wwf-chile-for-the-development-of-special-interest-tourism-in-private-conservation

 

Darwin’s Route Tour in Chiloé

 

A tour where you can discover the wonders that Charles Darwin saw on his journey to the south of Chile. Explore this fascinating territory of the Chilean rain forest, and watch the same species of flora and fauna described by one of the Fathers of Modern Science.

 

 

sustainable tourism

 

Route of Parks of Patagonia

 

Our most recent project is a 14-day Multisport Route of Parks, Patagonia. In this tour you will discover Torres del Paine National Park, the lush and exuberant temperate rainforest of the Pumalin Park, and a stunning starting at the foot of active volcanoes covered by unique forests of giant Araucaria trees in Conguillío National Park.

Nature, diversity, local communities and interaction with the culture of Patagonia, while giving back and supporting rewilding experiences leaded by our local experts. This is a featured program in some of the best parks that make up the Route of Parks of Patagonia and The Lake and Volcano District. An unforgettable multi-sport adventure where you can be sure to discover new paths in Patagonia!

 

Our latest inquiry ended up in a local tree planting project.

 

Wiñolfe Anumka

 

In April 2021 the platform Wiñolfe Anumka has been launched. This brand-new project is the response of the inquiry we at Amity Tours made one year ago. We now get the possibility to offset our carbon emissions on a local basis. Wiñolfe Anumka is a Mapuche Pewenche community network offering reforestation of native forests through their own nursery network.

Beginning of 2020 we contacted our local partner, Rutas Ancestrales Araucarias to discuss a solution about offsetting our not avoidable carbon emissions on a local basis. Since many years we are working together with the award winning community based project, sending clients from all over the world, to connect with the local culture. We did share with them our vision, about a reforestation project in Kurarewe, located just a few kilometers away from our headquarters. After our first meeting, we invited a forestry engineer to join the project.

Together with a local company that is dedicated to landscape management, environmental education and regeneration, we stared working on gathering relevant and scientific information. We then calculated the CO2 emissions produced by Amity Tours (approximately 50 Ton CO2), and hence the amount of native trees to be planted to neutralize these emissions. As a result we learned that we must plant at least 14 tree clusters, each formed of 20 different native especies, to be able to offset the 50 tons CO2 in the next 20 years. Together with Wiñolfe Anumka we will be working on the implementation of this great goal.

 

 

 

Local is our solution

 

At Amity we are conscious of the environmental impacts as a business. That is why we need to reduce our own carbon footprint and offset our unavoidable emissions to support the transition to a low-carbon sustainable future. Indeed carbon offsetting alone won’t fix the climate crisis. Despite that, we are convinced that each step towards a climate positive society is worth any effort.

At Amity Tours we want to make changes, share progresses and solutions. It is one of our main goals to motivate other companies and individuals to join the Zero Waste Movement and to participate actively in the big challenge of changing unsustainable habits.  We are not only a tour operator but also a consultant company and are aware of our responsibility by sharing practical knowledge.

 

 

Amity Greenhouse waiting for its consumers