A fascinating trail of discovery through some of Chile's most enchanting landscape - the Lake District. Witness the change of scenery from the lush forests clad mountains and lakes to pampa and dry grassland as you cross the watershed line and pass into Argentina. Explore some of the many National Parks and protected areas along the way for fabulous hikes and to gain a deeper insight into the varied ecosystems in this watershed region.
Pick up your car at the airport or city rental office. Your destination for today will be the town of Pucón, beautifully situated below volcano Villarrica. At the eastern end of Villarrica Lake, and surrounded by extensive areas of native forests, this town will be a good base for visits to the nearby national parks, hot springs, waterfalls and lakes. Overnight in or close to Pucón.
For today we recommend a combination of hiking (5-6 hrs.) in the Huerquehue National Park, which will give you the opportunity to see the famous Araucaria trees close up, with a visit to one of the many relaxing thermal springs. Overnight in or near Pucón. (B)
For today's border crossing to Argentina you will be able to choose from two very interesting options: You can cross the Andes by taking the Mamuil Malal Pass at 1200 m / 3937 ft above sea level, where the scenery changes abruptly from farmland to the lush vegetation of native coigüe and araucaria forests to the dry Argentinean Pampa. A second option would be to drive to San Martín, which will lead you to the Huahum Pass. Follow the road south of Pucón to Panguipulli and then board the small ferry on Lake Piriheuico for a 2 hour crossing of the quiet and peaceful lake. Upon arrival continue your trip to the Argentinian border and nearby San Martín (prior reservations are recommended to guarantee space on the ferry. This can be arranged by phone). Overnight in San Martin de los Andes. (B)
Explore the beautiful 'Seven Lakes' route to San Carlos de Bariloche and pass through two National Parks, first Lanin and then Nahuel Huapi. The 'Seven Lake' Route will take you to the tranquil village of Villa Angostura from there you will drive along Nahuel Huapi Lake to Bariloche. Overnight in or close to Bariloche. (B)
Today you will drive back to Chile over the Cardenal Antonio Samoré Pass at an altitude of 1,308 m /4,291 ft above sea level. Here you will cross from Nahuel Huapi National Park into the Chilean Puyehue National Park. At the Hotel & Hot Springs Puyehue you can rest, have lunch or enjoy a soothing bath in the thermal pools. Continue southbound on the Panamerican Highway to Puerto Varas, located on the shores of the enormous Lake Llanquihue. Overnight in Puerto Varas. (B)
Puerto Varas is a good starting point for excursions to the nearby national parks like Alerce Andino or Vicente Pérez Rosales. Both offer interesting hiking trails. Choose from a wide variety of activities, including the crossing of Lake Todos los Santos to Peulla in a catamaran. Overnight in Puerto Varas. (B)
Return your car at Puerto Montt Airport or the downtown rental office. (B)