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!

Luxury Nature Tours in Chile defined by Amity Tours

Relaxing hour at Corralco Mountain Resort

 

 

One traveler’s luxury is another’s ordinary.

For us at Amity Tours, a luxury nature tour is all about the experience, the disconnection and the unique feeling of freedom in a trip throughout Chile.

We’d love to share with you our definition of luxury!

 

Altiplano

 

The philosophy of Amity Tours

 

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 camp ground 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.

We are specialized in active travel experiences, with biking, hiking, skiing and multisport tours. What’s more, we understand that active travel goes along with excellent service, comfortable hotels and delicious great local food, wine and beer.

 

Relaxing hour at Corralco Mountain Resort

 

Our definition of Luxury

 

As George Morgan-Grenville once said: “Luxury travel today is defined less by thread count and Michelin stars and more by access to the people, places and experiences that represent all that is authentic about a destination. There’s no denying that comfort factors still apply and high standards of accommodation and dining will always feature on the luxury traveler’s wish list. However, today’s luxury traveler seeks more depth of understanding and immersion into local culture than ever before. People don’t just want to see – they want to participate. The sales process is also critical and whilst the online proposition can be an asset in terms of booking more simple arrangements, clients looking for luxury experiential travel require a deep level of sophisticated knowledge and confidence during the sales process.”

There is no better way in explaining our definition of luxury tours at Amity.

 

Mate tea with Mapuche women

 

 

We definitely do not support luxury tourism without considering the impact it might have for the natural environment. Luxury tourism should never compromise nature, such as helicopter trips over national parks or high speed boat trips on pristine lakes.

To us, comfort doesn’t come in a “heli”. The negative impact of these kind of exclusive adventures for the wildlife is huge. There are many case studies, which prove the negative impact of helicopter flights for the natural surroundings. That is why we don’t think it is worth enjoying a short flight in a fragile environment while there are so many other great ways of connection to special places in the world.

We think that the real luxury on an adventure trip are the unforgettable experiences we make during the voyage. Experiences, which will leave a mark in our memories – as we learn more about a local place and culture.

 

 

Atacama Desert

 

Here are the luxury moments you can find during our nature trips in Chile:

 

  • Reaching natural thermal hot springs after a great cycling day over green rolling hills with the view of three volcanoes. No better luxury moment than relaxing our tired muscles in the thermal waters and listening to the sound of the cold river next to us. Check out this and much more unforgettable experiences in our bike tours.

 

  • Getting to a pristine beach after hiking through a thousand-year-old forests together with local indigenous guides. After the challenging hike in an almost unknown trail, a friendly local family is waiting for you in their typical housing, and offering freshly seafood – from the sea directly to the table. Interested in their ancestral seafood gathering? Join them during an afternoon on their simple wooden boats.

 

 

Mapuche family at their local housing on the pacific coast
Mapuche Huilliche Indigenous community at Mapu Lahual Reserve

 

  • Enjoying a private Yoga session in Atacama, the World’s driest desert, with a professional instructor. After a mystical highlands tour that includes hiking around geysers, we will get back to our very special accommodation. Here we can enjoy a deep connection with the nature and our spirit. This unique Yoga session is one of the many highlights of our Bike and Hike Women Tour in the Atacama Desert.

 

Yoga on our women tour
Yoga session in Atacama Desert, the driest in the World.

 

  • Have you ever dreamed about Backcountry Skiing on an active volcano? When traveling with Amity Tours, you get the opportunity to spot lava after a challenging climb and then enjoy the unforgettable off-piste downhill skiing. A real once-in-a-lifetime experience.

 

Backcountry skiing on the Choshuenco Volcano
Summer Skiing at Choshuenco Volcano, Huilo-Huilo Biological Reserve

 

  • Having a private Polo field, an exclusive lake front Lodge and stables full of polo horses to choose from. Santa Amalia Ranch is one of the most exclusive polo getaways in Southern Chile. It is situated next to the pristine Lake Colico, and immersed in the Araucarias Biosphere Reserve.

 

 

Lake boat pier
Santa Amalia Ranch – Colico Lake

 

Ready for an exclusive luxury experience?

 

  • Learning how to make an ancestral recipe from a famous Mapuche chef, while collecting the ingredients as we hike in the forest.
  • Embarking with local fisherman to birdwatching among the sunken forest in Chiloe Island. Feel the untouched nature and listen to the singing of the native birds. Our Conservation Tour is full of magical moments.
  • A great dose of adrenaline during the whitewater rafting on the Trancura, Fuy, and Petrohue rivers. No better way to experience the force of the water and the importance of good teamwork. We are sure that these are one of the luxury moments during our Family Adventures.

 

 

Rafting Rio Petrohue
Petrohue River, Puerto Varas

 

 

  • Horseback ride with panoramic views of the Paine Massif in Patagonia. A truly luxury moment for every nature lover during our Multisport Tour in Patagonia.

 

Horseback riding Tyndall Torres del Paine
Horseback Riding in Torres del Paine National Park, Patagonia Chile

 

In all of our luxury nature tours in Chile you will experience several “wow” moments.

Our bespoke team of travel designers are experts in curating the best tailor-made luxury travel experience for you. We know how to surprise you with details that make the difference.

What about a cold local brewed beer under an ancient Araucaria tree after an Andes climb?

Or what about a five-star picnic after an unforgettable mountain bike descent on an active volcano?

Or a Chilean folk-dance lesson in bicycle jerseys just because we passed by a traditional trade fair with live music?

 

Gourmet Picnic
Amity’s famous Picnic Table

 

 

Protection of the Environment – Sustainable Tourism

 

We are not only trying to minimize our negative impacts. We even maximize benefits to the environment and local community through different practices such as:

  • Being part of the expert team while creating the first UNESCO Geopark in Chile, Kütralkura (Rock of Fire, in native language).
  • Implementing sustainable tourism practices for the local indigenous communities in Chile.

All this is part of our Responsible Travel Policy, which is defined as following:

We believe and work in the universal standards put forth by the Global Sustainable Tourism Council (Based on the UNWTO’s Global Code of Ethics for Tourism), and we adopted the criteria specifically in these four areas:

  • Demonstrating effective sustainable management
  • Maximizing social and economic benefits to the local community and minimizing negative impacts
  • Maximizing benefits to cultural heritage and minimizing negative impacts
  • Maximizing benefits to the environment and minimizing negative impacts

As an organization, we formally adopted the Values Statement declared by the Adventure Travel Trade Association – ATTA – of which we are a member.

This is an organization that nurtures and professionalizes the responsible and sustainable development of the adventure travel industry.

 

 Are you ready to experience real luxury nature tours in Chile with us?

 

Hotpot La Baita Ecolodge
Hot Tub at La Baita Ecolodge, Conguillio National Park

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The National Parks of Chile Lake and Volcano District

lanin volcano chile

The Lake and Volcano District is located in Southern Chile covering the area from Temuco to Puerto Varas. Considered a true paradise on earth for every hiking lover. you will fall in love with the incredible national parks. If you are a true lover, you will fall in love with the hiking surrounded by endemic loval & flaura.

As a result, we made you a list of the best national parks to add on your travel bucket list.

Nahuelbuta National Park

Founded in 1941, the Nahuelbuta national park is located on the highest zone of the Nahuelbuta Cordillera, in the Araucanía Region. One of the last strongholds where lives the Araucaría Araucana, it has beautiful hiking trails and natural lookout points.

The park covers an area of 6832 hectares, characterized by big forests of araucaria trees, most of them are thousands-year-old. Actually, it was founded in order to protect the Araucaria tree that is native of the Andes mountain range.

You can hike 2 main walking trails in the Nahuelbuta national park. The first one is Piedra El Águila located 1.460 meters above sea level. There, you can find a lookout point with a spectacular view over the Andes mountain range, the valley, the Pacific coast and ocean. Second, the Cerro Anay (1.450 m.s.n.m) offers a 5-kilometer hiking trail with stunning panoramic views over Los Nevados de Chillán, and the Villarrica volcano.

Nahuebuta national park
Lookout point in Nahuelbuta national park

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, it’s “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.

With an average of 100.000 visitors per year, 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.

The famous hiking trail is the Sierra Nevada with amazing views over the Conguillío Lake, Blanco River and the Llaima Volcano. With an area covering approximately 60.883 hectares, the park is also part of the Araucaria Biosphere Reserve.

conguillio national park

Villarrica National Reserve

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.

villarrica national park
View over the Lanín Volcano – The Andean Lagoons Trail in the Villarrica national park

Huerquehue National Park

The huerquehue national park is located in the foothills of the Andes mountain range, in the 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.

Huerquehue national park
Los Lagos Trail, Huerquehue NP

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

If you consider visiting this amazing district during your trip in Chile, we highly suggest you to come in spring/summer. The main reason is the weather. During winter (June to September), it rains and snows in the region, covering all of the hiking trails with snow, making the use of raquets mandatory. In Spring and summer (october to March), it is the ideal time as the weather offers the perfect hiking conditions, and the trails are all cleared.

In fall (April to May), it is 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 article and are interested in visiting one of the best parts of Chile, contact us and we will give all the information regarding our hiking tours available