The ultimate step by step travel guide to the Chilean Lake District

The Araucanía Andina

mapa araucania andina.png

The journey begins in Curacautín and then passes through the Nalcas National Reserve and the Malalcahuello National Reserve. Between these two, resides the Lonquimay Volcano and the Tolhuaca Volcano. Advancing towards the mountain range and having already passed the Termas de Río Blanco, you can find the town of Lonquimay where a river runs through it.

Lonquimay, Arauncania Andina


From Lonquimay you can take 2 roads:

One that goes to the mountain range and borders the Bio Bio River near the Pino Hachado International Pass and then the lagoon Galletué and the Icalma Lagoon to the south until you reach the Icalma International Pass. This tour takes place inside the parks of the Galletue National Reserve, the Alto Bio Bio National Reserve, and the China Muerta National Reserve.

Or, the second road that marches towards the southwest passing through the town of Quinquén, surrounding the National Park Conguillío and near the lagoons: Laguna Verde and Conguillío, and the Llaima Volcano, until arriving at Melipeuco, where the well-deserved rest awaits in the Baths of Molulco.

Lake Villarrica

Lake Villarica with its volcano in the back

The second macro zone is composed by the Villarrica Lake and its tributary rivers. The point of union between this place and the Andean Araucanía is the Allipén River that is fed by the Laguna Verde. The torrent passes through the town of Cunco, close to Lake Colico and Lake Huilipilún neighbors of the touristic place of the Villarrica Lake.

This lake has the Trancura River as its main tributary, although the Pucón and the Minetué also contribute with their own, bringing the drained waters of Lake Caburgua, which is located between the Huerquehue National Park and the Villarrica National Reserve. As you travel you should notice that on Route 199, which includes Villarrica, Pucón, Curarrehue, Villarrica National Park and Mamuil Malal International Pass, there are a series of thermal paradises where the Palguín hot springs, the Termas de Menetué and the Termas de San Luis stand out. 

Panguipulli and the Route of the Seven Lakes




The third macro zone corresponds to Panguipulli and its Route of the 7 lakes. This  route passes through Lake Pellaifa, Lake Riñihue, Lake Pirihueico, Lake Pullinque and Lake Neltume. A recommended route by locals and travelers is the one that starts at LicanRay and ends at Carirriñe International Pass. This route passes through Coñaripe, the Thermal baths of Coñaripe and the towns of Carirringue and Liquiñe. 

To continue with the route, you must enter from Puerto Fuy to the Mocho-Choshuenco National Reserve, where you’ll find the Choshuenco Volcano and which, on its way out to the town of Enco, enters the Riñihue Lake to continue along a path paved bordering the San Pedro River towards the city of Los Lagos to the west. From this city you have to head south towards the city of Futrono to enter the fourth macrozone.

Lago Ranco

Lago Ranco

This territory includes the south of the Los Ríos Region, the circuit envolves Ranco Lake passing through the towns of Llifén, Calcurrupe and goes to the Cordillera where you can visit the Maihue Lake, the Curringue River, and the Chihuo Thermal Baths.

If you prefer to skip the previous circuit, on the road to Llifén, you can continue touring Lago Ranco, until you reach the city of Ranco, passing through Riñinahue. This part of the route is characterized by enhancing little-known towns such as: Puerto Lapi, Cayurruca, Trapi, El Crucero, Chirre and Entre Lagos.

Entre Lagos


This fifth macro zone begins its journey in the town of Entre Lagos to continue on its way south you can take the route that goes to Lake Puyehue, the Hot Springs of Puyehue and Aguas Calientes, the Refugio Antillanca on the slopes of the Casa Blanca Volcano and later towards the Puyehue National Park with its homonymous volcano, and the International Cardenal Antonio Samoré Pass that goes to Argentina.

Going through the route to the south, from Entre Lagos, the trip continues towards Rupanquito, which is the gateway to Rupanco Lake and the rural towns of Pellinada, Piedras Negras, El Islote and Puerto Rico, all located in front of the Puntiagudo Volcano.

Puerto Varas and Lake Llanquihue

lago Llanquihue.png
Lago Llanquihue and Volcán Osorno

This route, which already includes the Los Lagos Region, begins on the road between Rupanquito and Nochaco. It continues bordering the Lake Llanquihue, although for this there are two possibilities:

Take the east road to the mountain range that passes through Las Cascadas to reach Ensenada and continue to Los Saltos de Petrohué, the Osorno Volcano, the town of Petrohué and the Todos Santos Lake that is located in the Vicente Pérez Rosales National Park (Click here for more Info) and finishes in the town of Peulla last city before reaching the limit with Argentina, where the Pérez Rosales International Pass is located.

The other possible route is to go around Lake Llanquihue in the west until you reach the city of Puerto Varas (Click here for More info about Puerto Varas, before traveling through the cities of Frutillar and Llanquihue. It should notice that this route does not exclude the visit of the town of Ensenada, because, if you follow the natural form of the lake you will reach that place where you can visit the Llanquihue National Reserve and the Petrohué River in all its magnitude until you reach the town of Ralún, in front of the Reloncaví estuary.

Reloncaví and Puerto Montt


Puerto Montt

Finally, we have the Reloncaví Zone and the famous city of Puerto Montt (More info about Puerto Montt here) that although it does not contain large and abundant lake formations, it is known for its Reloncaví estuary, due to its geomorphological characteristics, was formed as a result of the glacial erosion that finally ended up joining prehistoric lakes with the sea. This estuary flows into a larger formation that is the Seno de Reloncaví. The general recommendation is to reach Ralún so you dont miss to visit the towns of Cochamó and Puelo, both are part of another interesting route such as La Carretera Austral.

reloncavi estuary
Reloncaví Estuary


Returning to Ralún, you can skirt the Reloncaví estuary on its western side to the towns of Rollizo and Canutillar, which are very close to the thermal baths of Sotomó.

From any of these two settlements, you can enter the Chapo Lake that drains into the Chamiza River. It is important to note that Lake Chapo, which is located in the middle between the Llanquihue National Reserve and the Alerce Andino National Park (Click here for More info about the Park, at its western end has a small port called Correntoso that has firstly a gravel road and then an asphalted one that finally joins the regional Capital, Puerto Montt.

You may also like:

  • From Puerto Montt you can go to the Chiloe Island, one of the greatest tourist attractions reached only through a ferry boat across the sea.castro



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