Squeezed between the mountains and the sea, Chile's beautiful Lake District region stretches some 600 miles. Sparkling lakes, snow-capped peaks and rich green primary forest have meant the area is often compared with both New Zealand and Switzerland, but it has a personality all its own. Similar to its counterpart across the mountains in Argentina, the Lake District in Chile is all about nature and the great outdoors. The famous Carretera Austral road is an unforgettably scenic journey, which connects Temuco and Pucon in the north with Puerto Varas and Puerto Montt in south, where the land ends and the fjords and ocean take over.
On your Chilean Lake District holidays, explore Pucon - known as the adventure capital of the region - home to a plethora of watersports on Lake Villarrica as well as volcano climbing. Puerto Varas is a rather gentler place, where small villages and farmhouses sit around Lake Llanquihue, the Osorno volcano soars, and excursions include hiking to the waterfalls at Petrohue. There is a strong Germanic heritage here, and quaint colonial villages such as Frutillar and Puerto Octay are well worth a visit.
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So-called for the assortment of glacial lakes that grace the region, Chile’s Lake District (or ‘Los Lagos’) is an area of outstanding natural beauty, which provides a pleasing contrast to much of the country’s more arid landscapes. The snow-dusted volcanoes, shimmering lakes and lush meadows lend themselves to a variety of adventurous activities, making it the ideal destination for intrepid explorers and outdoor enthusiasts. Head for the Trancura River to take part in adrenaline-inducing white-water rafting, or to Lake Villarica if you’d rather opt for a more leisurely boat ride across the water.
There are multiple ways to take in the scenery of the Chilean Lake District, from horse riding through verdant pastures and hiking rugged hillsides, to climbing in the Río Cochamó Valley and driving the scenic route from Puerto Varas to Chiloe Island. The region is also home to an abundance of wildlife and the Birding Club of Pucon offers ornithology (the study of birds) tours, which should appeal to any animal lovers. Myriad cultures have left their mark on the towns of the Chilean Lake District and these are especially reflected within the culinary traditions. Indulge in apple strudel and hot chocolate in Pucon, a nod to the country’s German heritage, or sample traditional Mapuche offerings at a picada (local restaurant), such as cazuela (meat stew) and merkén (a chilli condiment).