Chile's Lake District is famous for its spectacular scenery of deep blue mountain lakes, snow-capped volcanos, pristine beauty of alerce (larch) forests, popular resorts, year-round sports, and traditional folklore, handicrafts and legends.
The Lake District covers two of Chile's regions, the Ninth Region, more evocatively known as La Araucanía, and the Tenth Region, Los Lagos. It is anchored at the northern end by the inland city of Temuco, in the middle by Valdivia on the Pacific and Osorno inland. Puerto Montt on the Bay of Reloncavi is at the southern end (see interactive map.) From north to south, the Lake District stretches from the Pacific east to the Andes.
Chile's Lake District is aptly named. There are twelve major lakes in the district, with dozens more dotting the landscape. Between the lakes there are rivers, waterfalls, forests, thermal hot springs, and the Andes, including six volcanos with Villarica being the highest at 9395 ft (2,847 m.)
The Lake District is a major highlight of many tours to and in Chile. The scenery has been likened to Switzerland, and with the early emigrations from Germany and the subsequent German feel to farms, towns and traditions, it is cosmopolitan, yet entirely Chilean.
Temuco (see map) is the capital of La Araucanía and the gateway to the Parque Nacional Conguilio, home of the monkey puzzle tree, or araucaria, which takes centuries to mature, and to the resorts of Villarica and Pucon.
Puerto Montt, the capital of Los Lagos, is the gateway to Chiloé, Aisén and Chilean Patagonia where the islands and fjords of Patagonia begin.
Nearest to Puerto Montt is Chiloé Archipelago, consisting of hundreds of islands, the largest one being Isla Grande. Chiloé for many years was all but isolated from the rest of Chile, thus retaining its rich ethnic and folkloric traditions and mythology. The ever-present fog lends to the mystique of the area.
This area, northern and southern regions both, is very rich in flora and fauna, particularly so in birds and marine animals.
When to Go
Food and Drink
- Parillada de Mariscos - grilled mixed seafood
- Cancato - grilled fish stuffed with a variety of vegetables, cheese or sausage
- Curanto - various meats and sausages, fishes, mollusks and crustaceans, potatoes and corncobs cooked in an earthen pit overlaid with leaves. It's also prepared in a kitchen in a large earthenware pot. However cooked, it is eaten in layers, and usually reserved for major fiestas and holidays
- Browse through the menu at Salvia's "Local 20" for local seafood favorites.
- Chilean wine, of course!
Please read the next pages for things to do and see in Chile's spectacular Lake District.