Multi-Adventure Tour – Lake and Volcano District Scenic Route Chile

multisport chile

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

 

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

This Patagonia Collection has been carefully crafted and developed over the last years between 3 friend companies operating in Chile: BirdsChile, Chile Nativo and Amity Tours.

 

About the Lake and Volcano Scenic Route

 

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

 

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

 

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

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

 

Multi-Adventure Experience – the Llanquihue Lake Circuit 

 

During March 2022, CEO Cristián Levy went guiding the incredible multisport experience in the Llanquihue Circuit accompanied by Ladera Sur national press and SUDA, our app partner. For this occasion, we did an active tour that can turn into a more passive and contemplative experience for families with young children.

Discover the incredible multi-adventure route we lived!

 

ebike llanquihue lake

 

Day 1 – Kayaking Río Puelo

 

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

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

 

 

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

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

 

Discover this route on SUDA, our application partner.

 

Day 2 – Horsebackriding Cochamó Valley

 

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

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

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

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

 

 

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

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

 

 

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

 

Discover this route on SUDA!

 

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

 

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

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

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

 

 

Discover this route on SUDA!

 

Day 4 – Cycling Llanquihue Lake from Las Cascadas to Frutillar

 

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

 

Check our last adventure gravel cycling around Llanquihue Lake!

 

 

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

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

 

 

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

 

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

 

The Lake and Volcano Scenic Route – Chile

osorno volcano llanquihue

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

Araucanía Andina Circuit

 

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

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

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

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

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

 

 

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

 

Araucanía Lacustre Circuit

 

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

 

 

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

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

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

 

Sietelagos Circuit

 

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

 

 

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

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

 

Lago Ranco Circuit

 

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

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

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

 

 

Discover the Lago Rango circuit in our family adventures!

 

NorPatagonia Circuit

 

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

 

 

 

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

 

Read our hiking adventures in the Puyehue national park!

 

Llanquihue Lake Circuit

 

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

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

 

 

 

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

Discover the Llanquihue lake circuit in our recommended travel adventures:

 

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

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

villarrica park chile

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

 

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

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

 

Conguillío National Park

 

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

 

 

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

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

 

 

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

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

 

Villarrica National Park

 

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

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

 

 

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

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

Huerquehue National Park

 

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

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

 

 

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

Vicente Perez Rosales National Park

 

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

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

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

 

 

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

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

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

 

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

 

 

 

 

 

The History of Amity Tours

Cristian Alejandro Amity Tours

The History of Amity Tours

By Cristian Levy, CEO & Founder

During all these years, many clients, guests, friends and colleagues have asked me the same question: “How did Amity begin?

The answer is a long story and I will share it with you in this blog.

The story goes way back to 1948. My grandfather, Hector Levy, was an adventurer and his greatest passion was exploring the mountains of Chile’s central valleys. Together, with a group of friends and the Grez Family, they organized trips to the mountains near Santiago.

Only people with a deep love for the mountain could go on these journeys, as they were not easy nor comfortable. They used adapted livestock trucks to get to the foothills of the Andes. From there, they continued by mule-back and finally hiked or skinned up the last snow-capped section until they arrived at the mountain refuge. One of these refuges was the famous Refugio Gaston Saavedra.

 

the andes mountain
Hector Levy (first on the left) and his family visiting the mountains circa 1948.

 

My grandfather was a travelling salesman. He traveled across the country in his Citroën 2CV, selling shoes made by his family’s shoe factory. In his free time, he would venture to the mountains or go on bike rides with his relatives.

 

Hector Levy and Brothers
Hector Levy (first on the left) and his brothers-in-law circa 1950.

1954

At a young age, my father Alejandro started to come on these trips to the mountains. For a little kid, the trip was even harder, but getting dizzy with the winding road was not a reason to miss out on the adventure. He became close friends with the Grez family, skiing all over the mountain in La Parva, El Colorado and Farellones.

 

Alejandro Levy Amity Tours
Alejandro Levy posing with his ski gear circa 1956.

 

1960

My father joined the Boy Scouts at the Jewish Center in Santiago. His exceptional athletic skills made him stand out among the other kids. Thus, he was offered to go to Israel and join a sports program, but his family objected to his going.

1968

At the age of 18, my father was a very talented football (soccer) player, playing during his childhood at school and on the streets with neighborhood kids. In his last year of high school, he was awarded goal scorer of the inter-school football tournament.

 

Alejandro Levy Amity
Alejandro Levy (on the right) at school circa 1968.

1970-75

My father studied engineering at the Universidad Tecnica de Santiago, where he met Paty, my mom. Here he once again stood out for his athleticism. While he was playing football on the university team, he was recruited to play on Chile’s National Football team (amateur division). For 5 years, he traveled in Chile and Argentina playing for the Chilean Football team and played at the qualifiers for the Olympic Games.

 

Chilean Football Team
Alejandro (first on the front left) at the Stadium circa 1974.

 

Football Player Alejandro Levy
Alejandro in football jersey at the Stadium circa 1974.

 

1978

This is the year I was born. My father’s love for the mountain continued as he volunteered as a skiing instructor at El Colorado Ski Resort. As soon as I could walk, he took me skiing in the mountains and taught me to love and respect Nature.

 

Cristian Levy Amity
Cristian in ski gear, Farellones circa 1983.

 

1982

My father Alejandro continued with his sports activities, joining the bicycle club of CDUC. Then in 1983, he biked from Santiago to Mendoza with the club, riding and climbing the Andes mountains from Chile to Argentina.

 

Cyclist Alejandro Levy
Alejandro in bicycle jersey crossing the Andes (Portillo Hotel, circa 1983)

 

1986

I followed in my father’s and grandfather’s footsteps and grew into a highly active boy, joining the swimming team at CDUC. This club became my second home during my childhood.

 

Cristian Levy Amity
Cristian in CDUC uniform boarding a plane for a swimming tournament (Iquique, circa 1988)

 

1990

My father continued teaching skiing at El Colorado Ski Resort, mostly to friends and colleagues. On the weekends, I joined him as much as I could.

This year, my grandfather Hector planted the seed of entrepreneurship within me by lending me twenty dollars for a little business. He didn’t tell me what to do, only that I had to return the money. Then, with that money I went to buy candy and started selling it at school. Within a week, I sold all the candy and returned the loan to my grandfather. I remember feeling so proud of paying back my grandfather, and so I continued with the side business until my commercial activity was banned at school.

This same year, I joined the Boy Scouts movement, where I remained actively involved for a decade. In this group. I learnt the values of friendship and teamwork, and my love for the nature deepened.

 

Cristian Levy Amity
Cristian in ski gear (El Colorado, circa 1990)

 

1995

I graduated from high school and almost immediately searched for a seasonal job at a local retail store (wrapping Christmas presents), so I could generate my own income and be more financially independent. My parents encouraged me to do that just as much as my grandfather did. With the money I made, I went on my first self-supported trip to Pucon. I took my brother, Jano, with me.

Later, my Boy Scouts friends joined us as they became aware of my travel plans. At the time, I never imagined that Pucon would become my home and the headquarters of my adventure travel company.

1997

I enrolled at the SEK University in Santiago to study Tourism Planning. I didn’t totally understand the exact reasons for my decision to study tourism, but felt that this had been part of my whole life. Actually, since I was a young boy, I had always wanted to be a doctor, but it was clear that life had chosen a different path for me.

 

Cristian Levy Amity
Cristian and friends exploring the Andes mountains (Cerro Provincia, circa 1998)

 

1998

My father Alejandro moved by himself to southern Chile for a job as an engineer at a mattress plant. There, my father discovered and fell in love with the landscapes of the Lake and Volcano District.

Meanwhile, the rest of the family stayed in Santiago. My mom’s love and support was key during this year. Reinforcing her teachings about how to be kind, self-sufficient and responsible.

 

The Levy Father and Sons
Alejandro with his children discovering their new home in La Araucania. Kutralkura Geopark, Quinquen.

 

In the summer of 1998, my grandfather once again encouraged me to continue gaining experience in the business world and lent me 300 dollars. With this money, I opened a beachfront kiosk called La Ruka (the house) in Guanaqueros, in Northern Chile. That summer, our kiosk was awarded the sales point with the highest ice-cream sales in the region. At the end of the summer season, I paid back the loan to my grandfather and with the profits and my mom’s help, traveled to Rapa Nui, Easter Island.

 

La Ruka Salespoint
Cristian and his brother Jano in the La Ruka kiosk. (Summer of 1998)

 

1999

My father finally felt settled in Temuco, and my mom and brothers went to live with him in southern Chile. I stayed in Santiago to finish college. This was a very hard decision for my family, but it turned out to be a great change of lifestyle.

The summer of 1999 I applied for an internship at the regional Tourism Board, SERNATUR Araucania, and just like my father did, fell in love with the nature and people of the region. I fondly remember my first visit to Conguillio National Park, where I was completely amazed by the Araucaria forest.

 

Alejandro and Cristian Levy
Alejandro and Cristian during his internship. (Summer of 1999)

 

2001

I graduated from University with honors and my Tourism Planning degree. Shortly thereafter, my classmate, German Pino, and I started to work as junior tourism consultants at EuroChile Foundation (German later joined Amity as partner in 2011).

This foundation specializes in promoting and consolidating economic, commercial and technological links between public and private institutions from Chile and the European Union. Tourism is one of their main pillars. Our mission there was to create and develop Chile’s first inbound ecotourism operator.

 

Cristian Levy Eurochile
Cristián working for Ecoaustral (Chile’s first ecotourism operator, circa 2003)

 

2002

The Asian economic crisis hit Chile hard and my father lost his job at the mattress plant. Despite many attempts to find a job in his field, he couldn’t find one. My mother became the family’s primary breadwinner, working as a financial advisor at a local bank in Temuco.

I couldn’t stop worrying about my father’s situation, so I mentioned this to my boss and friend Gerd Walther. He suggested we start a tour company with my father in southern Chile, but I didn’t take him seriously. However, I told my father about my boss’s idea and he only smiled quietly.

 

History Amity Tours
My boss and dear friend Gerd Walther (RIP)

 

2003

While working at EuroChile developing the inbound ecotourism operator, we received a particular request by email: a family of four from Brazil wanted a 12-day trip to Chile with skiing lessons included. They didn’t want to visit the classic ski resorts in central Chile. Instead, they wanted to explore the small and less known ski centers located around the southern volcanoes. I immediately told my boss about this request and he didn’t hesitate to put me in charge of the request and organize the whole trip. He told me to ask my father to work as a ski instructor during the tour and run it on behalf of the company.

The month of July arrived, and my father and I went to greet the Esteves Abreu Family from Rio de Janeiro. We delivered a 2-week guided skiing trip visiting the southern volcanoes: Llaima, Lonquimay and Villarrica. The tour ended up being a total success, with Eder, Mônica, Beatriz and Eduardo learning how to ski and promising that they will return the next year for more skiing lessons. This family became Alejandro’s first client, repeating their skiing trip to Chile for the next 10 consecutive years. To this date, the Levy and Abreu families remain great friends and continue seeing each other.

 

History Amity Tours
The Esteves Abreu family with their private guide and instructor Alejandro.

 

It was after this first trip that Alejandro realized that he could do what he loved most and earn a living at the same time. Here, my father made an important decision, selling the family’s house in Santiago and partnering with me to create our family-owned tour company in August of 2003.

By then, I was working in Santiago on a project with a travel book writer from the USA named Pete Nelson, with the goal of writing a new edition of a Chile travel guide. Pete was a senior marketing expert who had worked for important world-wide hotel chains such as Hilton and Intercontinental. It was here that I saw an opportunity to validate a list of potential names for our tour company.

But Pete didn’t pay attention to that list and instead gave me a great piece of advice: “if you want people to find you first pick a name that starts with the letter A, and make sure anyone can easily pronounce that name no matter which country they are from”. So, I took out my pocket Spanish/English dictionary and found the word “amity”, which means friendship, friendly, concord, good vibrations. And with this meaning as a central value, we began our tour company.

 

History Amity Tours
My father Alejandro, my brother Jano, and me with our first van and logo (September 2003)

 

Finally, as an established tour company, in September 2003 we received the first group of foreign travelers. The group consisted of seven guests from the UK coming with Phil Smith, an international all-mountain skiing instructor and director of the skiing company Snoworks.

Snoworks is one of the UK’s leading providers of all-mountain ski courses to destinations around the world. This group of British skiers represented Amity’s first business account, and remains one of the Levy family’s favorite and dear clients.

 

Ski Chile Amity Snoworks
Our first B2B group with Snoworks (Pucon, September 2003)

 

Ski Chile Amity Snoworks
My father Alejandro with Phil Smith

 

If you liked this story, please share it! Maybe someday my father will tell it to you in person as you go on a chairlift with him or while hiking on the trails of our beloved country, Chile.

Lonquimay Volcano Chile
Alejandro and Cristian summiting Lonquimay Volcano.

 

 

 

 

 

 

A new year and a new zero waste challenge for Amity Tours

trash can hand blue grey container

As 2019 is coming to an end, Amity Tours has taken a new challenge towards becoming a zero waste company. These are the first steps we are currently taking.

 The current problem

Our current lifestyle generates each year billions of tons of waste. Most of them end up causing natural damages for our fragile environment. Likewise in Chile, more than 40% of all the generated waste ends up in landfills without a minimum of sanitary requirements. This means that the groundwater and the river streams are affected directly, as well as the Pacific Ocean.

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

Our first steps

As a company offering responsible tourism in Chile for 16 years, we decided to take a new challenge towards becoming a zero waste company. As a result, we are implementing the following measures:

“Reduce, Reuse, Recycle” Practice

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

 

granola bar snack
@sweet_bee_chile
green leaves salad organic
@laguertinadepichares
beer growler bottle
@cervezatropera

 

 

 

 

 

  • Reuse: We donate all of the remaining reusable water bottles after each operations’ season. In 2019, approximately 450 were donated to local sport clubs (Bagualitos Park, & TeamPucón). For 2020, we plan to give away another 500 more. In the future, we will work with our partners on finding a sustainable solution regarding this issue. Moreover, we highly encourage our clients to bring their own water bottles. This will reduce the amount of plastic generated by our tours.

team pucon beach water bottle

  • Recycle: At our main office we did install a recycling point where we separate Plastics, Cans, Glasses, Paper/Carton and of course all the organic waste generated at our office, the cabins and part of the waste generated during the trips. During the trips our guides and drivers set up an dismountable recycling point where clients and staff can dispose the residues to be collected at the hotels visiting during the voyage. In addition, we separate and collect the organic matter to be transform into compost. This compost will be used for our vegetables garden located at Amity Headquarter.
recycling bin yellow green plastic glass
Recycling Point Amity Tours

Coming soon

Even though our efforts towards becoming a zero waste company are already making a change, we still have a long road ahead. For 2020, we plan to measure all the waste and recycled materials generated during our tours from November 2019 to April 2020. Based on the collected information, we´ll make sure to reduce our waste production for the 2020/21 season.

In addition, we will keep integrating and handpicking new local suppliers that also apply sustainable practices in order to eliminate waste directly at the source. Moreover, we are integrating our selection of hotels / restaurants in our efforts, as they will receive part of the generated waste during the tours.

Last but not least, our friendly team will be the main protagonist in our challenge of becoming a zero-waste company. Indeed, they will share and implement on the field the company’s efforts, and hopefully create a huge impact on our guests’ minds.

Soon, we’ll keep you posted on the upcoming zero-waste solutions and share with you our progress.

Join us on this great adventure by sharing this article with your travel buddies. Let’s go for a greener travel industry!

hands endemic tree araucaria