Lake District and Chiloé
The Chilean Lake District will leave you enchanted with its stunning, diverse scenery, charming local residents and sheer contrast to Southern Patagonia. With a mix of glacial lakes, temperate rain forests, snow-capped volcanoes, and rivers rich in fish and bird life, this stop is sure to please all types of travelers. This region is both the gateway to Patagonia, and a thrilling adventure haven.
Activities are abundant here, with hiking, fishing, horseback riding, kayaking and mountain biking all on the excursion’s menu. This area is also one of the most culturally interesting parts of Chile, with indigenous Mapuche communities, traditional fishing villages and German settlers from the 1850s. To make the most of the idyllic outdoor setting and activities, we recommend visiting from October to March.
Crossing the Chacao channel from Puerto Montt on the mainland to Isla Grande de Chiloé, you immediately see that the island and its culture is shaped by land and sea. Stilted houses dot the shorelines, Chilote farmers use cattle-drawn carts to transport their produce, and fishermen sell their fresh catch in the local markets. Valdivian forests of myrtle, oak, bamboo, hazelnut and cinnamon trees skirt winding rivers, lakes, and lagoons. Head to the southern part of the island to Castro where history and culture converge. Stroll the main square where you’ll see the iconic church of San Francisco. Introduced by the Jesuit missionaries, these shingled wood churches (16 of the 60-70 structures have been recognized as UNESCO World Heritage Sites) represent the fusion of Huilliche and Chono cultures and religious traditions with Spanish Catholicism.
Rent a car in Puerto Montt and explore the island on a day trip, or base yourself there for a handful of nights to fully traverse the Pullao Wetlands or trek part of the Sendero de Chile. However long you are here, be sure to try a bowl of curanto, a stew of meat, potato (there are 300 varieties grown on the island!) and shellfish cooked in the ground with hot stones.