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.

 

The best hikes in Chile’s Lake and Volcano District

hike lake volcano district

Discover the best hikes in Chile’s Lake and Volcano District!

 

If you are an avid hiker, nature lover or fellow traveler looking for some amazing landscapes, here’s a list of the best hikes you can find in Chile’s Lake & Volcano District!

 

chile hiking trails
Hiking through the Villarrica National Park at the heart of Chile’s Lake and Volcano

 

Kutralkura Geopark – Christmas Crater Hike

 

The Christmas Crater is a pyroclastic cone of the Lonquimay Volcano located in the Malalcahuello National Reserve. It was formed during the volcanic eruption on December 25 of 1988, and reaches a height of 190 meters from its base.

Hiking Chile Lake and Volcano
Christmas Crater, Malalcahuello National Reserve

 

The hike to the crater is not technical; but you’ll do require mountain gear to climb it in winter as it is covered in snow. However, in summer (from November to Early April), the hike doesn’t require any gear.

Regarding difficulty, it is relatively short, and takes approx. 2 to 4 hours back and forth depending on your walking pace. It is ideal for families with teenagers, or people with little hiking experience.

From the top, you can enjoy a panoramic view over the foothills of the Lonquimay Volcano. In addition to the lava field, extended araucarias tree forests, along with view over the Tolhuaca and the Callaqui Volcanoes.

 

Kutralküra Geopark & Tolhuaca Volcano – Lake and Volcano District

 

Coloradito trail hike – Malalcahuello National Reserve

 

hike cerro coloradito
Cerro Coloradito trail hike. Sierra Nevada and Llaima volcanoes at sight.

 

The Coloradito trail, located at the Malalcahuello National Reserve, is a place shaped by tectonic and volcanic processes with an interesting and endemic fauna and flora.

This trail is a good alternative featuring typical landscapes of the Andes mountain range under the watchful eye of the Lonquimay Volcano.

All along the way, you’ll pass through forests of endemic trees such as the araucaria and the lenga tree surrounded by the ground vegetation with a predominance of michay, quila and viola trees.

Called “El Coloradito”, it is unique access to the Lonquimay Volcano that ending near the Coloradito River. The landscape is dominated by the presence of the Lonquimay Volcano and the Sierra del Colorado. During the hike, you can observe the Llaima Volcano and the Sierra Nevada Mountain Range.

 

Cerro Coloradito Trail – Malalcahuello National Reserve

 

Sierra Nevada hike – National Park Conguillio

 

araucaria conguillio chile
The ancient araucaria trees are the highlight of the Conguillio National Park

 

The Conguillio National Park is one of the most outstandings places Chile has to offer. With the stunning Llaima Volcano, Sierra Nevada, volcanic lakes everywhere, araucarias tree forests, endemic fauna and flora, it is a must-see for everyone who wants to visit Southern Chile.

The national park has a wide variety of trails, but without a doubt, the Sierra Nevada hike is the most accessible and offers a wider range of landscape, enough to get a good idea of the natural richness existing in the region.

The Sierra Nevada trail begins from one of the most beautiful beaches of the Conguillio Lake, passes through a spectacular endemic forest with several viewpoints facing the lake along the way. After 3 hours, the trail reaches a clear and an out-of-the woods viewpoint facing the Llaima Volcano and the Conguillío Lake.

 

llaima volcano conguillio
The Llaima Volcano always at sight when visiting the Conguillio National Park

 

The hike is not technical, but does require a minimum of good health as the path can sometimes be steep. In winter, the trail is covered in snow, requiring mountain gear and good hiking experience.

 

Sierra Nevada Trail – Conguillio National Park

 

Andean Lagoons hike – Villarrica National Park

 

andean lagoon hike
Villarrica National Park

 

Close to the Argentinean Border, and located at the foothills of the Lanín Volcano, this trail called “Lagos Andinos” is a must-see of the Villarrica National Park. During this amazing hike, suited for families, you’ll visit 3 lagoons in a large endemic forest with Coihues and Araucarias trees and end up in a volcanic landscape dominated by the majestic Lanín Volcano.

 

lanin volcano chile
Lanín Volcano (3.747 meters) is the highest peak in Chile’s Lake and Volcano District

 

The hike begins at the shores of the Quillelhue Lagoon at 1200 meters above sea level. After 40 minutes of hiking on a flat terrain, you’ll arrive at the Huinfiuca Lagoon, the perfect spot for picnic.

 

Andean Lagoons Trail – Villarrica National Park

While you visit the park you will witness how the Lanin volcano has permanently shaped the landscape of the area with its eruptions and you’ll have the fantastic opportunity to see and walk on the lava flows that once came from the heart of the earth. You’ll also visit the pristine lakes Quillelhue, Escondido (Hidden), Huinfiuca and Verde (green) with its clear waters that reflect stunning colors.

That is to say, the hike is not technical and only requires a minimum of good health.

 

Huerquehue National Park

 

huerquehue chile
San Sebastian trail hike in the Huerquehue National Park

 

The Huerquehue National Park is located at the foothills of the Andes, 35 km (22 miles) from Pucón. The park covers 12.500 hectares (30.890 acres) with various lagoons, dense vegetation and gigantic trees that are the habitat of several endemic birds.

The hike, called “Sendero Los Lagos” starts easy but after a short distance the trail becomes rougher and sometimes steeper, but is still considered a relatively easy hiking level.

On your way to the lakes, you’ll get to see the Nido de Aguilas (nest of eagles) waterfall before the terrain gets steeper, surrounded by gigantic coigües (Nothofagus dombeyi) and mañíos (Podocarpus nubigena).

 

los lagos huerquehue
Los Lagos trail hike in the Huerquehue National Park

 

The first lookout point is where you’ll get to appreciate the views of Villarrica Volcano (2.847 m / 9.349 feet) and Tinquilco Lake which are absolutely stunning; here you’ll find great photo opportunities as well as chance to reenergize with a snack.

If you’re lucky, you can spot some birds that live in the forests of Nothofagus, such as chucao tapaculo (Selorchilis rubecula), black-throated huet-huet (Pteroptochos tarnii) and the magellan woodpecker (Campephilus magellanicus) among others.

 

Huerquehue national park
Los Lagos Trail, Huerquehue NP

 

Once you pass the Trufulco falls, the hike gets a little more demanding. Once you’re over 1000 meters above sea level, you’ll see the first araucarias trees. You’ll then walk through a mixed forest before arriving at the first lake called Lago Chico. It is characterized by its clear waters reflecting the image of hundreds of araucarias, and the snow-capped peaks around.

After visiting the different lakes, you can then start to turn around and walk back to the entrance of the park.

 

El Cañi Reserve

 

El Cañi Reserve is located approximately 21 kilometers from Pucón. This 500-acre private reserve committed to the preservation of the Araucaria Araucania tree species.

This hike, although not technical, does require an overall good physical condition since you’d be constantly walking on a steep terrain until arrival to the final viewpoint. It starts with approx. 1,5 kilometer of flat terrain, and from there you’ll start the stiff climb for 3 more kilometers.

You’ll then arrive at Aserradero Refuge (1000 meters above sea level). It is the entrance of the reserve, with the first panoramic views over the valley and flora. You’ll pass through the Las Totoras Lagoon, Negra Lagoon surrounded by the thousands-year-old Araucaria, Lengua and Coihue trees.

The final path climbs until you arrive at the final viewpoint, your reward. You’ll have a 360° panoramic view over 4 volcanoes, two lakes and the valleys around the Reserve.

Moreover, you can walk around a small path that starts at Laguna negra and takes you to 6 mores lagoons.

 

El Cañi Sanctuary

 

Villarrica Volcano Ascent

 

villarrica volcano chile
Ascending Chile’s most active volcano is one of the best travel adventure when visiting the Lake and Volcano District

 

Without a doubt, the Villarrica Volcano (2847 meters) ascent is a must-do activities if you plan to visit Pucón. As of today, it is one of the most active volcanoes in South America. The climb to its open crater is definitely a one of a lifetime experience.

The adventure starts at approx. 6 am, when the van takes you to the ski center located at 1.300 meters. After putting on your mountain gear, the hike begins with 2 options: use the chairlift, or start walking immediately.

Depending on your walking pace, it will take you approx. 4-5 hours to reach the open crater. From there, you’ll get to have an incredible 360° panoramic view over volcanoes, lakes, mountains and valleys around.

The descent consists in sliding down until the base of the Volcano (approx. 2 hours) where the van awaits you before taking you back to Pucón for a well-deserved rest.

 

Villarrica Volcano Climb

 

Pichillancahue Glacier hike – Villarrica National Park

 

Pichillancahue Trail Hike
Hiking towards the Pichillancahue Galcier through ancient forests

The hike to Pichillancahue is not very famous but will surely take your breath away for its landscape. This is a hike suitable for everyone who seeks connection with nature, from children to elder adults.

This Glacier is located at the Villarrica National Park, Coñaripe side. Youll get to see several majestic snow-capped volcanoes such as Quetrupillan and Rucapillan. The vegetation changes from raulí and hualle forests to araucarias as you ascend to Chinay. The highest point of the day at 1.250 meters / 4.101 feet altitude.

 

Pichillancahue Trail Hike
Pichillancahue trail hike with the Quetrupillan and the Lanín volcanoes

After approximately 1.5 hour of hiking, you’ll arrive at the Pichillancahue Glacier trail. A good spot to relax and eat a good snack to refill energy if needed. The rest of the trail (3.5 hours round trip) leads to a phenomenal glacier covered by black volcanic ashes. Once again, you’ll be able to enjoy the stunning views of four volcanoes.

This hike is not technical and does not require any mountain gear. The best hiking time is during summer season.

 

Pichillancahue Glacier – Villarrica National Park

 

Visiting Chile’s Lake and Volcano District is definitely a must-do for every hiker & nature lovers.

Take a look at our hiking experiences in Southern Chile for some wild adventures!

Scouting New Gravel Bike Routes – Conguillio National Park Chile

gravel bike conguillio chile

Last week, we celebrated the re-opening of Conguillio National Park by exploring new gravel bike routes. With the Llaima volcano always at sight, we explored the park across colorful ancient monkey-puzzle tree forests.

 

Since 2003, Amity Tours has been the leading adventure travel operator of the Lake and Volcano District, Chile’s world-class destination. Among our main domains of expertise, cycling the incredibles routes of southern Chile is our main specialty, and the year 2021 marked a milestone in the history of Amity Tours.

 

 

gravel bike chile
Specialized Diverge E5 and the Villarrica volcano

 

Indeed, we decided to renew our bike tours with the new gravel modality. As we all know, the gravel bikes are buzzing in the world of cycling, and we certainly could not stay apart. Since the arrival of our new gravel bike fleet, we have been working on the best cycling way to explore the off-the-beaten routes of Chile’s Lake and Volcano District.

 

gravel bike tour chile
Designing new gravel adventures at Amity Headquarters.

 

What is a Gravel Bike?

 

elite gravel chile

 

A gravel bike is a drop-bar bike designed to let you ride over many different surfaces. The drop handlebar and road bike-like design mean that you can make good progress on the road, but with wider tyres, lower gearing and stable handling you can also head off-the-beaten tracks.

A gravel bike will typically give you a more upright riding position than road bike geometry, with a longer head tube and shorter reach. That should result in more comfort on long rides and also lets you shift your weight around to tackle obstacles and off-road descents.

 

Scouting new routes in the Lake and Volcano District

 

Finally, we could change the office seat for a bike saddle and explore the routes we previously designed at our desks with a bike route planner software. Armed with a bunch of zero-waste snacks, bicycle tools and good mood we hit the road towards Conguillio National Park.

 

gravel amity chile
Amity team about to hit the gravel roads of Chile’s Lake and Volcano District

 

 

Travelling in times of COVID-19 is a big privilege. Thus, after 1 month of lockdown, we felt so grateful to be able to visit again one of the most beautiful parks of Chile. Starting from our operation center based in Pucón, Chile’s capital of adventure travel, we initiated the road trip on our pickup.

During the first 70 kilometers, we tracked routes on GPS, searching the most beautiful roads and trails, in addition to enjoying the spectacular views over the Villarrica lake and volcano. Moreover, we took advantage of the moment to stop by our beloved and exclusive Santa Amalia Polo Lodge.

 

colico lake chile
Colico Lake at Santa Amalia Lodge

 

Gravel Biking in Conguillio National Park

 

 

gravel bike conguillio chile
Entrance of Conguillio National Park

 

Conguillio National Park is located in La Araucania Region, approximately 110 kilometers from Temuco city. Without a doubt, Conguillio is one of the highlights of Chile’s Lake and Volcano District, and part of the Kütralkura Geopark by UNESCO. Indeed, with 60,831 hectares and altitudes ranging between 700 and 3,125 meters above sea level.

More importantly, the unparalleled beauty of Conguillio National Park is mostly expressed in the native thousand-year-old Araucaria tree forests and also the remarkable lava flows like long black scars drawn in the landscape. Truth to be said, the landscapes are impressive: the active Llaima volcano (3,125 meters), the extinguished Sierra Nevada volcano and the pristine Verde, Captrén and Arcoiris lagoons.

 

llaima volcano conguillio
Llaima volcano

 

Upon arrival at the park, we could immediately observe the presence of the Llaima volcano on our left-hand side. This volcano is the highlight of Conguillio National Park. Historically, the Llaima volcano is one of the most active in South America, and one of the most voluminous in the southern Andes.

 

gravel cycling chile
Cycling alongside Truful Truful Canyon

 

Afterwards, we kept pedaling until arriving to the famous Truful Truful Canyon. There, we could observe the fantastic 20-meter waterfall, along with the geological and eruptive history of Conguillio National Park. In other words, standing in this special part of the park is like a trip to the past. Indeed, it reveals how the Llaima volcano and the effects of the ancient glaciers deposited in the valleys haven been shaping the landscape for the last thirteen thousand years.

These surprising changes are projected in layers of land that were eroded and cut vertically by the effect of the Truful-Truful River.

 

 

gravel conguillio truful truful
Impressive Truful Truful Canyon in Conguillio

 

Following our adventures, we kept gravel cycling towards the andean volcanic lagoons. We first arrived at Laguna Verde (green lagoon) that connects with the Truful Truful river and through which it drains. At this time of the year, the water level is at its lowest point and the lagoon seems to be very small. During the rain season, and especially in spring,  we can appreciate the full size and greenish color of the lagoon.

 

laguna verde conguillio
Laguna Verde in autumn with the lowest water level

 

Right after, we entered the extensive colorful temperate-rain-forests of ancient and native Nothofagus trees. On the way, we stopped by the Arcoiris Lagoon. Formed by the damming of the waters of a estuary, the lagoon is product of lava flows from the Llaima volcano, the great sculptor of the landscape of Conguillio.

 

 

 

 

Following the smooth gravel road, we finally reached the impressive Araucaria trees. These monkey-puzzle trees with the Sierra Nevada Volcano in the background let you feel like reaching another world. We even spotted two Condors overflying the forest. What a majestic animal, flying through the wind with its enormous wings.

 

 

araucaria tree conguillio chile
Under the araucaria trees, spotting the flying condors

 

Finally, we reached our last point of interest: the Captrén Lagoon. The Lagoon doesn’t cease to surprise us with the dozens of trees submerged in the water, which can be easily seen.

The water is a mix of green, deep blue and transparent color, making this lagoon a unique place. There, we can also admire the contrast between the volcanic remains surrounding the Captrén, and the lush forests of intense green color.

 

captren lagoon conguillio
Final stop of our gravel adventures in Conguillio National Park

 

Visiting the Conguillio National Park in autumn is just a blast. The golden-colored native forests and stunning sunsets invite to fill your camera with unforgettable pictures, and fill your heart with strong energy from Mother Nature.

 

 

Amity’s best choice of accommodation: La Baita Conguillio

 

la baita conguillio chile
Aerial view of La Baita Lodge during autumn season

 

La Baita Conguillio is Chile’s first ecolodge. Pioneer in the area, with a recognized prestige for the quality and warmth of the services delivered. La Baita Lodge is equipped with 6 comfortable rooms designed with native wood and looms, added to large windows that overlook a ravine from where the wonderful araucarias hang.

 

 

double room la baita
Double room in La Baita lodge

 

The restaurant offers a healthy and organic menu with products from local suppliers, while its SPA offers great relaxation with a massage room and several hot-tubs amomg the native forest.

 

hot tub la baita
Hot tub at La Baita Lodge

 

And not to forget the famous hot-tub under the open sky! Can you imagine a better way to relax your muscles after a challenging biking day? We felt so lucky! Arriving at the lodge and immersing ourselves into the warm water, watching the starry sky and chatting about the beautiful day we just spent together!

 

llaima volcano
Amity Team at Conguillio lake with the Llaima volcano in the background

 

Contact us for more info about our active trips in the Conguillio National Park, and check out Instagram and Facebook to follow our adventures in Chile’s Lake and Volcano District.

 

Chile Lake Volcano District – Araucanía Andina

araucania andina lake volcano district

La Araucania Andina is located 700 kilometers south from Santiago de Chile. Geographically, this destination is formed by two large mountain areas: the Lonquimay volcano and the Llaima volcano, hence the outstanding volcanic activity of the area. Demographically, the core historical-cultural identity is strongly marked and linked to the original Pewenche people, the first inhabitants of La Araucania Region.

 

araucania andina chile
Map credit: Araucania Andina Travel

 

More than just a destination, it is where starts the famous Lake and Volcano District of Chile. The main natural attraction in this special part of La Araucanía Region is the Kütralkura UNESCO Global Geopark. There, you can witness how the volcanic activity has been shaping for ages the impressive landscapes of southern Chile.

 

araucania andina lake volcano district

 

In this week’s post, you will discover the best natural places to explore in La Araucania Andina.

 

conguillio araucania andina
Conguillio National Park, Araucania Andina (Photo Credit: Chile Lagos y Volcanes)

 

Kütralkura Geopark

 

Area of globally recognized biodiversity, Kütralkura is Chile’s first geopark. With six protected wilderness areas of diverse landscape, 5 volcanoes, and a geological history covering the last 250 million years, it in fact is no surprise that UNESCO declared this outstanding territory the Araucarias Biosphere Reserve in 1983. Dominated by the presence of the Llaima, Sierra Nevada, Lonquimay, Tolhuaca and Nevados de Sollipulli volcanoes, the notable geological features are of mainly volcanic, tectonic and glacier character.

 

llaima volcano sollipulli
Llaima volcano (3.125 meters) from Sollipulli volcano.

 

The richness of the Kütralkura geopark does not solely lie on its natural wonders. But also on its people who play a big part in the culture of this ancestral territory. First inhabitants of Southern Chile, the Pewenche are an indigenous subgroup belonging to the Mapuche community.

Pewenche people take their name from their dependence for food on the seeds of the pewen (pehuen) or monkey-puzzle tree (Araucaria araucana). They consider the Araucaria tree as their Mother and protector.

 

pewenche araucaria
Drinking Yerba Mate has been part of the ancestral tradition of the Mapuche culture since ancient times.

 

It should be noted that the Pewenche have their own cosmovision, social system, and ancestral arts. In addition, they have great knowledge and wisdom related to the use of medicinal plants (known as “Lawen” in their Mother tongue). In Mapudungun, “Kütralkura” means “stone fire”.

 

Tolhuaca National Park

 

tolhuaca volcano chile
Tolhuaca volcano (2.806 meters) and Blanca lagoon.

 

Located on the slopes of the Andes Mountain Range, the Tolhuaca National Park is a spectacular scenery of native flora and fauna. With 6.474 hectares of Monkey puzzle tree (Araucaria araucana) forest, the geological formations shape the characteristic mountainous reliefs of the park. Moreover the presence of the Tolhuaca volcano also highly contributes in this landscape composition.

 

Laguna malleco tolhuaca park
Malleco lagoon, Tolhuaca National Park.

 

In the Tolhuaca National Park, you can easily access Laguna Malleco by a good trail that does not take more than an hour to hike. There, you can walk through a forest of coigües (Nothofagus dombeyi) and araucarias, leading to great views towards the Malleco waterfall. In addition, the hiking trail offers the the opportunity to also visit the Culebra waterfall. 

 

malleco waterfall tolhuaca
Malleco waterfall

 

Conguillio National Park

 

The Conguillio National Park is located in the heart of the Kütralkura Geopark, highlight of Chile’s Lake and Volcano District. Originally, with an area of 60,832 hectares, the Conguillio used to form two different parks: Conguillio National Park and Los Paraguas National Park. Then they merged and formed the current park. 

In Mapudungun, the Mapuche’s native language, the word Conguillio is “Ko-nqilliu”. The meaning is “pine nuts in the water”, or “to settle by the pine nuts” based on the abundance of araucarias (known Monkey puzzle tree) and the existence of lakes surrounding the volcanic area of the park.

 

conguillio llaima volcano
Araucaria trees with the Llaima volcano at sight, Conguillio National 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. What’s more, the forests of this native tree are 1,200 year-old!

The BBC (British Broadcasting Corporation) refers to the Conguillio National Park as one of the last refuges in the World to preserve the landscape where dinosaurs lived. In this place, the UK’s broadcaster filmed part of the documentary “Walking with Dinosaurs“, more specifically the chapter centered on the Upper Cretaceous: “Death of a Dynasty”.

 

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0o2N7EE4-g8&list=PLzV6yGh6hXDaQ9wbClUj7lhey1PCtLdtx&index=2&ab_channel=GabrielM.R

 

 

Our favorite activity to do when visiting the Conguillio National Park is hiking the Sierra Nevada trail, a high volcanic mountain range.  The trail starts near the Conguillio Lake, and crosses a spectacular forest of araucaria trees. During the hike, there are three scenic viewpoints over the lake; the trail culminates in a large open viewpoint, outside with great views over both Llaima volcano and Conguillio lake.

 

Conguillio lake sierra nevada
Conguillio lake from the Sierra Nevada trail.

 

Malalcahuello National Reserve

 

mtb chile
Mountain biking next to Lonquimay volcano (2.865m) and Christmas crater, Malalcahuello National Reserve.

 

 

Located in the northeast part of La Araucanía Region, Malalcahuello is the must-see place to visit in Chile. Indeed, the volcanic and glacial activity of the Lonquimay volcano (2.865 meters) has strongly been shaping the landform of the reserve. With the Christmas crater (cráter Navidad) that completed its last volcanic eruptive process in 1990, the Malalcahuello Reserve is more like a surreal landscape where recent volcanic slags combine with ancient araucaria forests.

 

 

tolhuaca volcano kutralkura geopark chile
Tolhuaca volcano (2.806 meters), Malalcahuello National Reserve

 

As a result of the volcanic geography, the 31.260 hectares stand out for its great diversity of flora and where the native forest manifests in thousands of colors and forms, with streams of crystal-clear waters descending from the Andes mountain range.

From July to mid-October, the Malalcahuello National Reserve is Amity‘s favorite place to be. In effect, the area is best known to be a great host for skiing in Southern Chile. Proof of that are the yearly visits of international ski racing teams training in the Corralco Ski Resort, a world-class destination well-known for its great snow conditions and the exuberant surroundings of Chile’s Lake and Volcano District.

 

ski lonquimay volcano
Skiing in the Malalcahuello National Reserve. Main crater of Lonquimay volcano.

 

On the other hand, during spring and summer (late-October to April), cycling might be the best way to explore Malalcahuello.

 

MTB Malalcahuello
Mountain biking with the Tolhuaca volcano at sight. Photo credit: Evoc Sports.

 

Riding across the reserve surrounded by thousand year-old araucaria trees, with the Lonquimay and Tolhuaca volcanoes at sight, and our MTB is a true travel adventure experience we love to do. More than a bike experience, it is also a great opportunity for a cultural encounter with the Pewenche. Sharing with them their traditions, culture and culinary specialties is the best way to learn about the human side of La Araucania Region.

 

pewenche chile araucania andina
The “cordero al palo” is a whole roast lamb barbecue, offered by the Meliñir family.

 

The Andean ancestral legacy of La Araucania Region: the Pewenche culture

 

In geographical terms, the Pewenche territory encompasses both sides of the Andes mountain range, between the Maule River and the Lonquimay Volcano. Before the arrival of the Spanish settlers, they were hunters and gatherers of pine nuts (piñon, pewen or pehuén), fruit from the araucaria tree that gives the name and essence characteristics of the Pewenche culture. Thanks to this, they elaborate gastronomic products such as pine nut flour, jams, muday (ancestral drink), among others.

 

araucaria tree araucania andina
Piñon, seed of the araucaria tree.

 

It is not without saying that the Pewenche consider the araucaria as a sacred tree thanks to its medicinal properties. Thus, we understand that their ancestral culture is closely related to the natural environment in which they live. Likewise, they maintain a deep bond with their territory of origin. Hence understanding that the land cannot be separated from culture and identity.

 

araucaria tree
Bark of Araucaria tree

 

This intertwined connection explains the tremendous importance of the first inhabitants of La Araucanía Region. Every corner of this Andean territory has a history linked to the processes of the Pewenche through time.

If you are interested in visiting this area, please send us an email to schedule a call with one of our Trip Design experts.

Experience the rich union between the Pewenche ancestral culture and the beautiful nature of Chile’s Lake and Volcano District. Ask about our best active travel adventures and discover the incredible diverse landscape and history of La Araucaria Region.

 

 

lake volcano araucania
Road cycling near Bio-bio river, Araucanía Andina circuit, Chile’s Lake and Volcano Scenic Route.

Gravel Bike Tours in Chile’s Lake and Volcano District

gravel bike chile

Road or Gravel Bike Tour in the Lake & Volcano District of Chile, that is the question.

 

 

gravel bike amity
Amity’s bike fleet: Trek Domane 7 SL model and Specialized Diverge Elite E5

 

Gravel has been almost on every cyclist gathering over the past couple of years, with everybody talking about wheel sizes, flared drop bars, tyre width and tread pattern, but for the most of the people, the road bike vs gravel bike question might seem strange at first, as they may not look all that different on the surface.

 

But riding a bike designed for multi-terrain excursions means you can link together gravel routes in new ways, taking in sections of gravel roads, forest tracks, trails, byways and bridlepaths. Or you can load up your gravel bike with camping kit for multi-day bikepacking adventures, what means more miles to get lost and enjoy.

 

chile lake volcano district
Lanín Volcano (3.747 meters), the tallest peak in Chile’s Lake and Volcano District. Villarrica National Park

 

Road bike vs gravel bike: What are they supposed to do?

 

As you can probably work out from the name, road bikes are designed to be ridden on routes with a tarmac bias, while gravel bikes can be taken off-road, on gravel paths, dirt roads, fire trails, and even singletrack (if you are brave enough).

Road bikes ultimately fall into two camps, race bikes, and endurance bikes. Race bikes are what you see the pros pushing to the absolute limit, or your wealthy friend trying to look like these pros but clearly with more body fat, or those friends that come with Amity Tours to the Lake & Volcano district and we need to assign the strongest guide (probably Ruben or David) so he can follow them and not get lost!

 

road cycling chile
Road cycling the German Settlers’ Route alongside Llanquihue Lake

 

Instead, endurance bikes are a bit more upright, feature more stable handling, put a premium on comfort, and most probably the profile of the rider that will use this bike with us will take more than 1000 pictures…per ride!

 

road cycling tour

 

You can definitely use a gravel bike as a road bike. However, there are a few small limitations you might run into if you do this. Depending on how you like to ride, it could be important, or not important at all.

 

If you are a road bike racer, or your wealthy friend dressed in Rapha outfit with a Colnago C64 with Campy components, then a gravel bike probably won’t work as your primary bike. Many gravel bikes these days have a single chainring set up in the front. You’ll still get plenty of gears for most road riding, but you won’t have quite enough high gears for when the speeds get very fast, over 25 mph. You’ll probably spin out because you can’t pedal fast enough, and what is for sure, nothing can be worst to see than how the rest of the peloton leaves you behind, alone and talking to yourself for the rest of the ride.

 

chile lake volcano district
Lake and Volcano Scenic Route

 

But if you’re mostly riding by yourself, or with friends who keep a more reasonable pace during our bike tours here in the Lake & Volcano district, then a gravel bike works just fine. In many ways it’s a lot more comfortable than a road bike, because you can use wider tires at lower pressure to give yourself some nice cushioning. You’ll also get better stopping and turning power from more rubber on the road.

 

Gravel bike tours in the Lake & Volcano district

 

gravel lake volcano district

 

Amity Tours, as a national leader in the development of road bike and MTB tours, we are sure that being able to include our new gravel tours in our offer ensures that we can satisfy the needs of these new customer segments seeking to get out of the paved route and look for more inaccessible attractions difficult to reach either by other kind of bike.

 

Coming soon in 2021: Gravel bike tour in one of the most outstanding parks of Chile

 

The Conguillio National Park is without a doubt one of the most appreciated parks in Chile’s Lake and Volcano District. It covers a surface of 150.319 acres, and ranges from 2.296 to 10.253 feet above sea level. It must be said that the landscape are spectacular:

 

Llaima volcano (3.125 meters)

 

llaima conguillio
The Llaima volcano is one of the most active volcanoes in Chile.

 

Conguillio Lake

 

The Conguillio Lake originated as a stagnation of waters produced by the constant eruptions of the volcano, the waters coming from the melting of the volcano Llaima and the Sierra Nevada generated over the years a lake of great proportions.

 

Arco Iris Lagoon

 

The lagoon was formed by the damming of the waters of an estuary, product of the lava coming from the Llaima volcano. This water reservoir flooded part of the nothofagus forest, which can be seen through the crystal clear waters of the lagoon.

 

Truful Truful Canyon

 

truful truful
The canyon is a set of waterfalls located in the upper area of the Truful-Truful River. (Photo credit: Manuel Eduardo Fuentes Ramos)

 

Stay tuned for our next cycling adventures in Chile’s Lake and Volcano District, and get ready to discover the best of the Chilean territory on a gravel bike!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Multisport Tour Route of Parks of Patagonia in Chile

Lake and Volcano Route Chile

Multisport Tour – Route of Parks of Patagonia in Chile

 

A few years ago, we started dreaming about a new epic and transformational tour. This dream tour should connect Chile’s iconic scenic routes: the incredible Lake and Volcano Route with the stunning Route of Parks of Patagonia. Today we are happy to present our co-operated Multisport Adventure Route of Parks of Patagonia.

 

route of parks patagonia
Kayaking Grey Lake in Torres Del Paine National Park, Patagonia Chile. © ChileNativo

 

An exclusive and carefully crafted adventure led by three of the most iconic adventure companies of Chile: Amity Tours, BirdsChile and Chile Nativo Travel. A lifetime experience exploring on foot, bike, raft and kayak the most spectacular landscapes of northern and southern Patagonia. This exclusive program covers and connects the wild and diverse landscapes of two Scenic Routes: The Lake and Volcano Route + Route of Parks of Patagonia.

 

Multisport Adventure Route of Parks Patagonia Chile

 

In this tour you will discover Conguillío National Park, starting at the foot of active volcanoes covered by unique forests of giant Araucaria trees, explore the lush and exuberant temperate rainforest of Pumalin Park (Douglas Tompkins legacy), and finish with a stunning finale in Torres del Paine National Park

Nature, diversity, local communities, and interaction with the culture of Patagonia, while giving back and supporting rewilding experiences led 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!

 

lake and volcano route
Lake and Volcano Route. © Amity Tours

Different sustainable concepts in one tour

 

We have been strategizing on how to develop a product which benefits are given back to local communities, supports conservation, and that the trip integrates the REWILDING concept. All of which posed to be the biggest challenge incorporating these exact concepts into a multisport program.

 

Cristián, Raffaele and Gonzalo – the CEOs of the three adventure companies – went together on a creative retreat, laying out the first draft itinerary and agreeing in the key factors to success with an epic and transformational multisport tour in Patagonia.

 

route of parks of patagonia
Left to right: Raffaele Di Biase (BirdsChile), Gonzalo Fuenzalida (Chile Nativo Travel) and Cristián Levy (Amity Tours).

 

As a result, they came back with a unique itinerary connecting the Lake & Volcano Route and the Route of Parks of Patagonia, covering 1.400 miles (2.300 km) between Conguillío  National Park and Torres del Paine.

 

Raffaele, Cristián and Gonzalo, in the making of the Multisport Tour Route of Parks of Patagonia during a creative retreat.

 

The trip was ready to launch for the 2020/2021 season but it was postponed due to Covid international travel restrictions. However, this amazing trip was officially launched during the AdventureELEVATE virtual event and now 2021-22 dates are already confirmed.

Before we dive deeper into the highlights of the trip, we want to introduce these two iconic scenic routes with a short video:

 

Lake & Volcano Scenic Route

 

 

 

Route of Parks of Patagonia

 

 

The efforts of conservations in these lands were skeptically accepted at the beginning, provoking a controversy among Chileans, politicians, and part of the population.

Here another video to show the controversy:

 

 

Now, an especially important detail of this topic of conservation is Rewilding and the adaptive form of Rewilding in Tourism, which is a new way to power the art of traveling, transforming it from a high consumption product of tourism to a real and genuine act of empathy. Let’s talk a little more in depth about REWILDING.

 

Pudu deer at Route of Parks of Patagonia
Pudu deer – Route of Parks of Patagonia. © BirdsChile

What is rewilding?

 

We like to separate the two concepts: Ecological Rewilding and Tourism Rewilding. While ecological rewilding means “to return an ecosystem to its original state”, we have to understand that Tourism Rewilding is “adapted to tourism because we cannot erase the human impact completely”.

The Patagonia National Park has a rewilding concept with one of the highest global standards. If you want to know more about the rewilding process in the Patagonia National Park, you can take a look at this video. The story of Douglas Tompkins is intimately related to this park that became part of the largest donation of private lands ever made, and the first step for the creation of the Route of Parks of Patagonia.

 

Two women working in a field of young trees
Rewilding in Patagonia. © BirdsChile

 

During our multisport trip we are part of a Tourism Rewilding concept. This is not the only reason why we talk about a sustainable project.  Moreover, we operate the tour only in small groups (8 guests max.), trying to focus on low-impact activities. That allows us to have a traceable and measurable trip. So, between the three companies we can collect data and publish exact numbers about the real social, economic and environmental impact. Furthermore we support local NGO’s for educational and conservation programs such as Fundación Legado Chile, and Torres del Paine Legacy Fund.

 

More about our Zero Waste concept

 

In all of our self-operated group departure tours we do focus on our Zero Waste Concept.  First of all, we reinvented our picnic tables and box lunches. Wherever possible we changed to local suppliers and focused on organic processes. We eliminated single use plastic products and separated all unavoidable waste for recycling. During the last season we visited our most important local partners such as hotels and restaurants to involucrate them into the Zero Waste program. At the moment we are working on our Climate Emergency Plan. And we are part of the Climate Action Leaders Community.

 

Gourmet Picnic
Zero Waste picnic table. © Amity Tours

How do we incorporate the local community?

Our brand-new Multisport Tour focuses also on the local communities, their culture, habits and history. We want to give our international guests the opportunity to learn more about the ancestral heritage of the Mapuche People. This proud nation has a huge influence in the Lake and Volcano District. We are able to get to know a friendly family, who shares with us their way of life between the actual progress and the ancestral heritage.

In our rewilding work on day 6 of the tour, in the city of Llanquihue, we will combine this regeneration effort to work with local communities, creating a virtuous circle where nature gets restored and communities get benefits.

Furthermore we meet the friendly Kawésqar women. They started and initiative to rescue their culture. Valuing the ancestral heritage that they inherited from their canoe ancestors of Kawésqar. The vision of this project is to generate, in a collaborative way and through the dialogue between indigenous communities and interested people, the best strategy to value the culture and ancestral Kawésqar heritage. Through initiatives that benefit the original people, its members, culture, and the ancestral territory.

We will learn about the traditional basket weaving. This local art of mainly Kawésqar women has been transmitted by their grandmothers, mothers, aunts, and sisters. They kept alive the beautiful handwork with a thin vegetal fiber known as jonquil.

 

basket weaving kawesqar women
Basket weaving Kawesqar women. © ChileNativo

Multisport activities on the Route of Parks Tour

 

We love the adventure and want to share this feeling with you. We kick-off the trip hiking among volcanoes and ancient Araucaria trees. Then we jump on our bikes and travel southbound Pedalling the Lake and Volcano scenic route is a great way to appreciate the stunning nature with the perfectly cone-shaped volcanoes, pristine lakes, and beautiful national parks.

Afterwards we leave the bikes behind and continue by water, rafting the turquoise rapids of Petrohué river. Then we follow Carretera Austral by foot. Exploring active volcanoes, hidden waterfalls, and the Northern Fjords of Patagonia. Finally, one of the highlights of the trip is definitely the day kayaking in Torres del Paine. Paddling in between floating icebergs and descending the Grey River is something you will remember forever!

 

Cyclimg in the Lake and Volcano Route
Cycling in the Lake and Volcano Route. © Amity Tours

A trip of your lifetime

 

The Route of Parks, a Patagonia Collection Program, is a lifetime experience for the traveler seeking the awe and wonder that Patagonia provokes in all of us. This multisport journey exploring on foot, bike, and kayak connects some of the most spectacular landscapes of northern and southern Patagonia.

This exclusive program takes travelers to the base of active volcanoes covered by unique forests of giant Araucarias of Conguillío National Park. To the lush and exuberant temperate rainforest of the Pumalin Park. Last but not least, a stunning finale at the wild and diverse landscapes of the Torres del Paine National Park.

 

White-water rafting - Petrohue river
White-water rafting, Petrohue River. © BirdsChile

Travel must be an act of empathy

 

During the last ATTA Elevate event we had a wonderful, and educational session filled with great conversations from participants from Australia, New Zealand, Chile, and Argentina.

 

 

The result? Conservation is not enough anymore. Travel must be an act of empathy. Travel must regenerate communities and ecosystems, and as a leader in our trade, and as travelers ourselves, we must make conscious decisions to transform. Transform our programs, our products, and ourselves into something greater – even if that means making certain sacrifices such as smaller group departures and lower-impact travels.  The effects of travel must be measurable and traceable.

 

We are convinced that travel MUST regenerate our public and private lands, environments, ecosystems, and communities.