The Chilean Lake District is undoubtedly one of the most visually stunning regions of South America and also one of the safest and most logical areas for a self-drive holiday. With its well-spaced highlights, good road network connections, eye catching scenery and high quality lodgings, Chile’s relatively untamed mid-rift makes the perfect host for independent travellers looking for a little adventure.
The many world class walks around idyllic lakes and through volcanic valleys will entice keen hikers. Rare and elusive wildlife, including pumas and penguins, will draw animal lovers. The multitude of exciting activities such as zip-lining and white-water rafting will attract adventure seekers. And the cultural melting pot towns and cities where Mapuche, Spanish and German influences combine, will intrigue the history and architectural buffs.
- Immerse yourself in European culture with a South American twist.
- Trek through volcanic landscapes and lake strewn valleys
- Choose from numerous optional adventure activities
- Look out for mysterious and comical animals from pumas to penguins
Having your own hire car enables you to travel off the beaten track, explore the places that interest you the most and stay in more remote and spectacular locations. This itinerary is merely a suggestion which you can tailor to your own preferences, duration and intensity.
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Itinerary & Accommodation
- Day 1: Fly to Lake District & drive to Puerto Varas
Fly to the important southern hub of Puerto Montt. Collect your vehicle at the airport and spend some time exploring this port city which, due to state sponsored colonisation, received over 6,000 German immigrants between 1850 and 1875.
After visiting the cathedral and monument to German settlers, head for the fishing village of Angelmo. Here you will find numerous handicraft stalls, perfect for souvenir shopping. There is also a superb range of restaurants serving the best of the days catch.
Continue to Puerto Varas, known as the ‘City of Roses’ and another settlement which has been heavily influenced by German migrants. Spend the next 2 nights in this vibrant metropolis perfectly situated on the shores of Lake Llanquihue.
- Day 2: Petrohue Falls and Osorno Volcano
Start the day with a scenic drive around the lake (Chile’s second largest), before heading east to Vicente Perez Rosales, the country’s oldest National Park. The reserve is home to around 30 species of mammals, including the shy and elusive puma, but is most famous for being the source of the Petrohue River, which in turn gives rise to the Petrohue Falls. While there are many taller and wider waterfalls in the world, few have the awe inspiring setting that exists here. Many geologists have described the nearby Osorno as being the ‘perfect’ volcano and it is easy to see why. Its symmetrical slopes, snow-capped peaks and contrasting colours have made it the ideal backdrop for many thousands of photos and postcards over the years.
Later approach Puerto Octay, a small, picturesque village known for its traditional wooden architecture, built with a heavy German influence. Then reach Frutillar, where you can visit a museum showcasing houses, water mills and gardens that have been largely untouched and frozen in time since they were first created in 1856.
- Day 3: Puerto Varas - Chiloe Island
Drive south to Pargua where the ferry awaits to take you across the Chacao Channel towards Chiloe (ferry bookable and payable locally). This historic isle has been inhabited for over 7,000 years and the inhabitants retain a strong sense of regional pride and independence from the mainlanders.
The island and its waters are home to a huge variety of marine wildlife, including iconic creatures like blue whales, sea lions, marine otters and penguins. Either choose to go in search of the fauna (some of which is season dependent) or head to the colourful towns to get a flavour of the island culture. Ancud, in the north of the island has a quaint main square, interesting regional museum and notable colonial fort. To the south, the island’s capital, Castro, is famed for its palafitos – traditional wooden houses built on stilts. Both 'cities' were largely destroyed by the Great Chilean Earthquake of 1960, but have been lovingly restored and modernised to become popular tourist hotspots.
In the evening head to your hotel in Castro and stay for the next 2 nights.
- Day 4: Quinchao Island
Take the 25 minute journey to Dalcahue and board a ferry to Quinchao, the second largest island in the Chiloe archipelago, and for many, its cultural centre (ferry bookable and payable locally). The island has long been home to ingenious farming practices which have enabled, for example, the cultivation of more than 200 different varieties of native potato. Many migratory birds also flock here and species including the straight-billed curlew and Chilean flamingo can both be spotted if you are lucky.
Follow the main road to Curaco de Velez which is set around a stunning bay and amongst undulating peaks. Visit these old style streets filled with typical local architecture, before departing for the fishing village of Achao, a living museum of Chilotes history. In the late afternoon, head back across the Dalcahue Channel to your hotel in Castro.
- Day 5: Return to Puerto Montt and fly onwards
- Take the ferry back to the mainland and continue to Puerto Montt, before flying onwards to your next adventure (ferry bookable and payable locally).
Please note: This itinerary is a guideline only and can be tailored to meet with your specific interests and requirements. Contact our team of specialists for full details.
Puerto Chico Hotel - Puerto Varas
- Grade: Standard
- Type: Hotel
The Puerto Chico Hotel in Puerto Varas combines rustic f…
Hotel Bellavista – Puerto Varas
- Grade: Superior
- Type: Hotel
The 4 star Hotel Bellavista, located just one block from…
In addition to those listed, a large variety of alternative accommodation options are available for this holiday. Please contact us for further details.
ExcursionsIt is possible to pre-book a variety of excursions to supplement this holiday. While we highlight a range of these within the itinerary and/or on the excursions tab, there are often many more that can be selected. Contact our team of specialists for full details.
An opportunity to visit some of the extraordinary wildlife …
A visit to Chiloe's main cultural highlights
A must for any wildlife lover, this tour visits some of the…
Explore some of the towns that most showcase the Germanic i…
Visit the highlights of these two neighbouring German style…
Follow in Darwin's footsteps on this tour of some of Chiloe…
Prices & Dates
2018 Prices and Dates
Price from approximately £359 per person, based on twin-share standard accommodation and rental vehicle.
Departs daily, October - March
2 nights bed and breakfast accommodation at Kasa Kalfu Hotel (Puerto Varas) • 2 nights bed and breakfast accommodation at Palafito 1326 Hotel (Castro) • 4 days standard car hire (CAT B1 - Peugeot 208 or similar) with unlimited mileage - based on afternoon pick up on day 1 & morning drop off on day 5 • Airport pick-up/drop off fees • Semi-comprehensive CDW insurance (for 2 named drivers) • Detailed documentation helping you plan your daily activities
All airfares - we would be happy to assist with booking these • Road tolls • Fuel • National Park Fees • Excursions and entrance fees • Ferry crossings between mainland and Chiloe (Operate regularly, usually between 06:30 and 23:59. Payable locally in cash only - approx £15-£20 each way, with small vehicle) • Ferry crosssings between Chiloe and Quinchao (operate regularly - times must be checked locally. Payable locally in cash only - approx £5-£10 each way, with small vehicle • Additional airport or airline security charges • Passport and visa expenses (we will be pleased to advise you on any necessary documentation, however this is passengers' own responsibility) • Government arrival and departure taxes • Any accommodation/meals/drinks/land arrangements not mentioned in inclusions • Excess baggage charges • Telecommunication charges, laundry costs and other charges of a personal nature • Travel insurance
How to book
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Speak to a specialist: 1-844-584-0668Book this trip
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