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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Crater Rojo trail hike
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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
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).
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.
El Cerdúo & Correntoso River
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.
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.
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.
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
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
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.
That is how we enjoyed an unforgettable and very safe trip in Chile this summer!