Saturday, December 6, 2014

* Holidays in the South of Chile



Llanquihue Lake and Osorno Volcano, southern Chile


  


The beauty of Southern Chile

      


     "Southern Chile" refers not to the southernmost region of the country, but to the territory just North of Patagonia, comprising the regions of Biobio, Araucania, Los Rios, and the northern part of the Region de los Lagos. The wealth of natural landscapes that southern Chile has to offer, associated with a good road and air connectivity, make it one of the most visited zones of the country.  Every year, hundreds of thousands of national and foreign tourists give renewed vigour to the streets of cities, small villages and places of attraction such as Lago Villarrica and Pucon, Puerto Varas, Valdivia (The City of Rivers), the beautiful Island of Chiloe, with its mild landscapes, traditions and tasty cuisine. Chiloe Island is also a place full of History as it was the last bastion of the Spanish crown in Chile during the nineteenth century.  

     South Chile is a land where volcanoes abound, with snow-capped peaks that give a beautiful backdrop to the landscape, idyllic lakes to enjoy in the summer, numerous rivers, to the delight of anglers and adventure travel lovers, Mountain Resorts whose slopes in the Winter turn into world class ski fields, etc. In this part of the country there are lots of traditions that remain from the numerous German settlers arrived during the 19th. century, influence also reflected in the architecture and typical local cuisine. Below, I give you a list of the best places to visit in Southern Chile, which will be gradually complemented with new information. 

    

Places to visit in South Chile


* Puerto Montt


      Capital city of the Region de Los Lagos (Region of Lakes, also known as the Tenth Region of Chile), it can also be considered as the tourist capital of Southern Chile, unlike Punta Arenas much further South and which is known as the tourist capital of Patagonia. Puerto Montt is  located 1,055 Km. South of Santiago, on the shores of Seno de Reloncavi (Reloncavi Sound) and its  population is of  220,000 inhabitants although the estimated population of the Region de Los Lagos is reaching nearly 1 million.  The city's  Airport  "El Tepual" and the Bus Terminal are the main points of arrival of passengers to the South of Chile. 

 

 * Pucon y Lago Villarrica (Resort-Town of Pucon and Villarrica Lake)


Pucon and Villarrica Volcano, Chile.
 Pucon and Villarrica Volcano- Photo: voces.latercera.com
        The most important lake resort and one of the most preferred tourist destinations in Chile.  It is a commune in the ninth region of La Araucania, 780 km. South of Santiago and 100 km. Southeast of Temuco. Like in all Southern Chile, summer temperatures are mild rather than hot. In the off- season, Pucon is a small town of about 25,000 inhabitants, but during the summer it easily doubles the number of people just for tourist concept. Also very close are other very important tourist centers such as Villarrica and Licanray.
     
     Pucon  has everything a visitor needs to relax and have fun. The infrastructure to serve the tourist is highly qualified ranging from an important Casino belonging to the Enjoy Chain through Hotels, Spas, National Parks and Natural Reserves where excursions take place in places of stunning scenic beauty. The town is located on the Eastern shore of Lago Villarrica (Villarrica Lake) and one of the favorite activities is to go swimming and sunbathing to Playa Grande. The active Volcan Villarrica, with an elevation of 2,860 mts. above sea level gives a beautiful backdrop to the region, and in spite of being the most active in South America, every year attracts hundreds of mountaineers and adventurers to make the climb to its crater. Also worth mentioning are:  Pucon Ski Center, on the slopes of Volcan Villarrica, one of the most emerging in Chile; the numerous Thermal Centers, many equipped with good tourist infrastructure such as Termas de Menetue, Termas de Vergara, Termas Geometricas, Termas  del Rincon, Trancura, San Luis, Palguin, Ancamil, etc.  Lago Caburgua, located 23 km. NE of Pucon, with its two beaches, famous because of the beauty that surrounds the lake and also for being the summer residence of personalities including Presidents; tour to Los Ojos del Caburgua (The Eyes of the Caburgua Lake), a beautiful natural basin located 15 km. of Pucon, formed by small cascades of 15- 20 mts. from an undercurrent of Lago Caburgua.  Villarrica National Park, 12 km. of Pucon,  63,000 Hs. surface area, with Araucaria forests, a typical tree of the region, Lengas and many other species, several hiking trails cross its wooded landscapes. Fauna is abundant, from Coypus  and Foxes to Pumas, including black-necked Swans, Woodpeckers, Kingfishers, Peregrine Falcons, Hawks, Pudues, Chillas, etc.  Its main attraction is Volcan Villarrica the hub of tourist activity in this part of the South of Chile; another protected wildlife area, located 35 Km. of Pucon is Parque Nacional Huerquehue,  a former National Park of 12,500 hectares, in an area of outstanding natural beauty near Caburgua Lake in La Araucania Region, also known as the IXth. Region of Chile. Amidst great forests of native tree species especially Araucarias there are 17 beautiful lakes, among the best known are Lago Toro, Escondido, Tinquilco, Verde. Its main trekking trails are Los Lagos, Quinchol, Los Huerquenes, San Sebastian and Ñirrico.

  * Puerto Varas


Puerto Varas, South of Chile
Puerto Varas
     Tourist town known as "The city of Roses", located on the shores of Lago Llanquihue, 20 Km. N. of Puerto Montt, very well prepared to serve the needs of sightseers, with a world-class Casino, Hotels, Restaurants and services. The village, today with a population of just over 30,000 inhabitants, was born from the settlement of German colonists arrived in the second half of the 19th century, whose influence in all fields is reflected to this day.  Although Volcan Osorno is 59 km. away, this volcano along with Lago Llanquihue provide a magnificent setting, worthy of a postcard.


* Frutillar

 

     Small town and lakeside resort of almost 17,000 inhabitants, located on the western shore of Lake Llanquihue, 42 km. North of Puerto Montt, facing the peaks of the Osorno, Puntiagudo and Tronador volcanoes. Apart from its natural charms, this town that maintains many traditions of its German founders, also became famous thanks to the "Semanas Musicales de Frutillar", a Festival where the variety of melodies ranges from traditional Classical Music to different styles like Jazz, Chilean Folklore, etc. This presentation takes place every year between late January and early February at the "Teatro del Lago", with the performance of renowned national and international artists.  In a green area of 3 hectares is located the "Museo Colonial Aleman", a complex of old style constructions that recalls the life of the German settlers who founded several towns around Lake Llanquihue. The construction of the German Colonial Museum began in 1972, the initiative was supported by the Government of Germany and the Municipality of Frutillar, with the technical assistance of the Universidad Austral de Chile.  


* Peulla
   
View of Peulla, South of Chile.
 Peulla - Photo credit: hotelgranpacifico.cl
   Picturesque small village in the foothills of the Andes Mountains, Eastern shore of Lake Todos Los Santos, 96 Km. NE of Puerto Montt. The place can be visited all year round, there is excellent infrastructure with food services and accommodation. Peulla and all its surroundings are breathtakingly beautiful and you can enjoy many different activities of eco-tourism as jet boat rides, sport fishing, horseback riding, canopy, mountain biking,  trekking through the dense forest of the south. The nearest town is Petrohue, on the west side of the Todos los Santos Lake, another great center of tourist attraction in the South of Chile, Parque Nacional Vicente Perez Rosales.


* Saltos del Petrohue

    
    Situated 56 Km. of Puerto Varas, Saltos del Petrohue is a series of beautiful small cascades belonging to the Petrohue River,  within a short distance of Todos los Santos Lake, at Vicente Perez Rosales National Park. The waterfalls and rapids of the river are due to rocks formed by hardened lava of the Osorno Volcano, eruptions occurred over 600 years ago. Visiting the place is a must since the cascades, as well as the volcano, Todos los Santos Lake and all the surroundings are tourist icons of south Chile. The Osorno Volcano has also a Ski Center which offers a spectacular view of the area and during the summer offers programs appropriate to the season.

 

* Cruise through the Southern Channels

   
     Leaving from Puerto Montt to Puerto Natales in Patagonia (or vice versa). If you want to reach Patagonia and to get to know in detail the many wonders that this part of South Chile has to offer, this is the ideal way to travel. Besides, during the journey, the passengers will have a privileged view of the Patagonian fauna and lush scenery.  


* Antillanca Outdoor & Ski Center

  
    (Antillanca = "Sun Jewell" in the ancestral Mapugundun language belonging to the Mapuche ethnic group), for decades it has been a traditional ski center, located 98 Km. away from the city of Osorno, on the slopes of Casablanca Volcano, in one of the three areas that comprisePuyehue National Park: Aguas Calientes, Anticura and Antillanca.  Its privileged location make it one of the ideal places for Adventure Travel in Summer and practice of Winter Sports between June and October. A plus is the location of the hotel, next to the ski slopes, besides its ecological reserve on the shores of Puyehue Lake.  The Winter Resort offers 14 pistes with different degrees of difficulty, from beginners to professionals and for all preferences and styles.


* Valle Corralco Ski Center

       
     Of recent creation, it is considered one of the best winter resorts in Chile. Located just over 700 km. South of Santiago and 120 km. East of Temuco, on the slopes of the Lonquimay Volcano, Malalcahuello- Nalcas Forest Reserve. It is well known that in the area of Lonquimay, snowfalls in Winter are very heavy (more than seven meters of snow fallen a year) which give it a seldom seen snow quality and making Valle Corralco, -with its 26 world-class pistes-, a spectacular Mountain and Ski Resort. The 5 star Hotel and Spa was opened in 2013. The environment is amazing, surrounded by Araucaria and with a direct view of the volcano. Apart from its ski and snowboard circuits, there is also a full schedule of excursions in the beautiful National Reserve: trekking and mountain biking routes, horseback rides, recreational fishing programs, snowshoes, randonee and snowmobile.