Hiking Chile’s Lake and Volcano District

hiking chile lake volcano district

Hiking the Lake and Volcano District is one of the most rewarding travel experiences to live when visiting Chile. Last week, we had the chance to welcome our first international travelers after 11 months of long waiting. During 2 weeks, with our team of local experts, we explored the hidden corners of the national parks located in Chile’s world-class destination: the Lake and Volcano Scenic Route.

 

 

The first Scenic Route of Chile, also locally known as Red Interlagos, is a road network composed of 6 different circuits belonging to 3 regions: La Araucanía, Los Ríos and Los Lagos. Along with the breathtaking landscape of active volcanoes, pristine lakes and thousand-years-old endemic forests, this circuit aim to provide sustainable experiences allowing the encounter between the local inhabitants (Mapuche), the Colonos and Criollos culture, and the unique nature of Southern Chile.

 

Vicente Perez Rosales National Park, Los Lagos Region

 

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, the main factors that shaped the Andes mountain range.

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.

 

puntiagudo volcano osorno volcano
Puntiagudo and Osorno Volcanoes (Photo credit: Ruta Escénica Lagos y Volcanes)

 

With our group of travel adventurers, we explored 3 stunning hiking trails available in the Vicente Perez Rosales National Park.

 

Paso Desolación trail hike

 

This trail 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.

 

desolacion pass hike
Entrance of the Desolacion Pass trail hike

 

From volcanic scorials to dense forests of nothofagus trees, this trail allows us to travel through dramatic changes in the landscape. Additionally, the excellent panoramic views of the Tronador and Osorno Volcanoes, La Picada hill and the Todos Los Santos Lake are the main prizes of the hike.

 

todos los santos lake
Hiking towards Todos Los Santos Lake

 

El Solitario trail hike

 

El Solitario traik hike is a simple, short and fairly flat route that allows its visitors to appreciate the Osorno Volcano from the Vicente Pérez Rosales National Park.

 

el solitario trail hike
El Solitario trail hike

 

First, we started hiking through a native forest with the volcano on our right-hand during the entire route. Afterwards we continued passing by a valley covered with lava flows formed by old eruptions. After almost 2 hours of hiking, we finally arrived at the road that leads to Osorno Volcano.

 

el solitario hike
Osorno Volcano from El Solitario trail hike

 

Crater Rojo trail hike

 

crater rojo hike osorno volcano
Crater Rojo trail

 

The Crater Rojo (Red Crater) is a natural attraction located on the South-West slope of the Osorno Volcano (1.400 m.a.s.l). The trail starts at the ski center. During this incredible journey, we could witness how the landscape has been shaped for thousands of years in the course of geological and volcanic actions.

 

crater rojo trail osorno

 

Puyehue National Park, Los Lagos Region

 

The Puyehue National Park is located in an area of great and exuberant natural beauty of the Los Lagos region. With more than 100 thousand hectares, it is a territory where several active and dormant volcanoes are located. In addition, it belongs to the Biosphere Reserve Temperate Rainforests of the Southern Andes.

 

puyehue national park
View of the Puntiagudo and Osorno Volcanoes

 

In ancient times, this area was inhabited by the Huilliche communities (the southernmost branch of the Mapuche culture). Created in 1941, the park has accumulated centuries-old legends that exist since before its institution.

During our adventures in Chile’s Lake and Volcano District, we had the change to explore the best parts of the Puyehue National Park.

 

Casablanca Volcano and Raihuen Crater

 

Also called Antillanca, the Casablanca volcano is located in the Puyehue National Park, 77 kilometers from the city of Osorno. This beautiful volcano, of typical conical shape, rises between Puyehue and Rupanco lakes.

 

puyehue park casablanca volcano
View of the Osorno and Puntiagudo volcanoes from Casablanca volcano

 

Geologically, the Casablanca volcano is part of the Antillanca volcanic complex. Due to its low height and low glaciation, the ascent of the Casablanca does not present technical difficulties. As a result, it relatively easy to access one of the dominant summits of the southern Andes.

 

Casablanca volcano ascent
Casablanca volcano ascent

 

There are various alternatives to reach the top. During our visit of the volcano, we had the incredible opportunity to also visit the Raihuen Crater.

 

raihuen crater puyehue
Raihuen Crater trail hike

 

Part of the Casablanca volcanic complex, the Raihuen Crater is located near the Antillanca ski resort. There are no records of eruptions. However, volcanologists believe that the last eruption occurred more than 10,000 years ago.

The hike towards is impressive, as you can witness the special nature of Chile’s Lake and Volcano District.

 

 

The presence of the Puyehue Volcano, the Puntiagudo and the Osorno volcanoes, the Cordon Caulle gives us an idea of how unique is this particular area of the Andes Mountain Range.

 

Paraíso Lake

 

paraíso lake puyehue

 

Finally, we had the chance to discover a very special place called Paraíso lake. It is an Andean lake surrounded by an evergreen forest. This hidden corner of the Andes mountain range is a true paradise. Indeed, the pristine lake offers a solitary beach with incredible views of the exuberant surroundings.

 

paraiso lake puyehue

 

Villarrica National Park, La Araucanía Region

 

Located in the Andes mountain range, the Villarrica national park is a protected wildlife area. The impressive volcanoes (Villarrica, Quetrupillan and Lanín), 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.

 

pucon villarrica volcano
Downtown Pucón with the Villarrica Volcano in the background

 

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.

 

Andean Lagoons trail hike

 

Andean Lagoons hike

 

Very close to the border with Argentina at the foot of the Lanín volcano, the Andean Lakes trail is a must-see in Villarrica National Park. This easy hiking trail is a beautiful route, without difficulties and suitable for family.

During the hike, you get to know 3 Andean lagoons, a great native forest of coihues and araucarias. The cherry on the top is the volcanic landscape dominated by the great presence of the Lanín volcano (3.747 meters).

 

villarrica national park
Lanín Volcano

 

While visiting the park, we could witness how the Lanin volcano has permanently shaped the landscape of the area with its eruptions. Also, we had the fantastic opportunity walk on the lava flows that once came from the heart of the earth. Lastly, we visited the pristine lakes Quillelhue, Escondido (Hidden) and Huinfiuca with its clear waters that reflect stunning colors.

 

 

villarrica national park

 

El Cerdúo & Correntoso River

 

el cerduo pucon

 

El Cerdúo is a fantastic place located at the slopes of the Villarrica volcano, the most active one in the Chilean territory. Visiting El Cerdúo is a unique experience, as we can observe the geological effect of the volcanic eruptions that participated in shaping this valley over the course of the years.

 

el cerduo
Ernesto (Amity’s top guide) and the Villarrica volcano

 

In addition to spectacular views of the Villarrica volcano, the valley also allows to observe the areas affected by ancient lahares and the lava flows that have created waterfalls. Moreover, we can clearly see the impressive contrast between the volcanic rocks and the dense forest areas.

 

el cerduo waterfalls

 

COVID-19: implementing our new protocols

We are facing a complex global situation due to the COVID-19 virus. At Amity Tours we want to assure a risk free and positive experience during all our tours. That is why we follow strict local and international protocols.

 

covid 19 protocol chile
Van, masks and temperature check

 

First of all we ask our team, providers and guests to follow the rules of the sanitary authority which principally established the following obligations:

  • Frequent hand wash with water and soap
  • Use of face masks in all public areas
  • Social distancing at all times (min 1 meter)
  • Carry on a valid sanitary passport while traveling from one place to another
man, sanitization, luggage
Sanitization of luggage getting to the hotel

 

In addition we did establish some Amity rules, such as:

  • Temperature check twice a day
  • Using the same seat in the van during the whole tour
  • Entering the van starting by the last row of seats
  • Following a strict emergency protocol in case of COVID-19 symptoms

 

covid chile

 

We provide our guests with reusable face masks, some disposable face masks and gloves for emergency reasons, alcohol gel and a face shield. Our guides introduce all guests on their first meeting about our protocols and the local restrictions.

 

 

Social distancing while hiking

 

That is how we enjoyed an unforgettable and very safe trip in Chile this summer!

Chile opening borders to international travelers: Who can enter Chile?

chile opening border

The Minsal (Chilean Ministry of Health) introduced the Border Opening Plan, which establishes the requirements to be met by non-resident foreigners in order to enter the country.

 

 

It’s official: on November 23, the Santiago de Chile International Airport will open again for international arrivals. The opening plan created by the Minsal does contain a specific and relevant requirement that has to do with the country of origin.

Thus, it clearly stipulates that the non-resident foreigners who come from (or who have been to) a high-risk country will have to comply with a 14-day lockdown upon arrival on the Chilean soil, even if they count on a negative PCR-test. This measure will be in force for a maximum of two weeks after the date of borders opening. The high-risk countries are those with “community transmission”, according to the Weekly epidemiological update delivered by the World Health Organization.

After this date, whoever comes from the high-risk listed country will be able to enter Chile, with the required travel documents.

Required travel documents to enter Chile

 

Due to the pandemic global situation, since March 18 of 2020, the Chilean borders (air, land and sea) have been closed for non-resident foreigners. The reopening of borders plan considers allowing the entrance to international travelers (either those who have final destination in Chile, and those who only transit in the country).

This plan follows 3 principles: safety, graduality and traceability. It ensures the health safety of the country as the active/contagious cases will be identified, and will not be able to board the plane to Chile. All passengers (of all ages) will be required to submit 3 travel documents when boarding the aircraft, which will be reviewed and required by the airline:

  • The “Travelel Affidavit” form must be electronically completed up to 48 hours before the scheduled flight to Chile. In this form, traveler must provide the contact information, health history and trip details. Also, the traveler agrees to report health conditions during the visit in Chile, under the Traveller Surveillance Period.
  • Before boarding, travelers must present the airline (and attach to the Passenger Affidavit) a negative result of a PCR test for SARS-CoV-2, which will allow them to be exempted from the 14-day mandatory quarantine. This negative test result must meet two conditions:
    • It shall not be more than 72 hours old, from the moment the test was taken, to the departure time of the flight towards Chile.
    • The test must have been carried out by a laboratory recognized by the local health authority.
    • Before boarding, travelers must present (and attach to the Passenger Affidavit), a health insurance covering the features associated with Covid-19 during the whole trip in Chile.

 

 

Check out the detailed map of destinations according to 5 stages, and where you can travel throughout Chile.

 

The reopening plan will be gradual:

  • The first stage will be the opening of the air border with a single point of entrance. As a result, the Santiago de Chile International airport will be receiving international travelers from midnight on Monday, 23 of November 2020. This means that the other (land, sea and air) border crossing remain closed for non-resident foreigners.
  • The reopening plan maintains the traceability of travelers, to identify outbreaks in time: all travelers who enter the country will remain in a Traveler Surveillance Period for 14 days after arrival. During this period, they will have to report on a daily basis to the Health Authority their location and health conditions, through a system that will be put in place for this purpose. Failure to do so is punishable under article 318 of the Criminal Code.
  • Once arrived in Chile, the visitors will be able to move throughout the country according to the Step-by-Step Plan. Created by the Chilean government, this strategy was established to face the pandemic according to the sanitary situation of each zone in particular, and determines 5 different phases. Each of them include restrictions and specific obligations, and the progress and regression from one particular step to another is subject to epidemiological indicators, healthcare network and traceability of the virus. In particular, traveling from one region to another will be possible only between cities in Phase 3 (Preparation phase), 4 (initial opening) or 5 (Advanced opening).

Find out about all the active travel experiences (cycling, hiking, skiing, multisport or family adventures) available in Chile’s top destinations.

Or simply drop us a line and we’ll help you organize your trip in Chile!

See you soon!