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Lake Llanquihue

eresa Colmer

Lake Llanquihue is one of the largest lakes in South America (the second largest in Chile) and also one of the most beautiful, due to the kaleidoscope of colors you can find around it: the shimmering blue water; the unfolding green landscape; the blossoming flowers; and undoubtedly the blinding white of soaring snow-capped volcanoes.

It is possible to wander around the lake in one day. Besides lofty landscapes, the trip boasts fascinating attractions: wooden German churches and watermills, built in the 19th century with the arrival of German emigrants; a very interesting ethnographic museum, located in a cozy little town called Frutillar;  and the “must” in this tour, the PetrohuĂ© Falls. The falls came about as the result of the eruption of Osorno Volcano: as the molten lava hit the river, it changed its course, creating a split-level landscape over which the turquoise water flows. There are trails to visit the river downstream and the woods beside it.

Very close to the falls, you will encounter Lake Todos los Santos (All Saints’ Lake), where it is almost possible to “touch” the Osorno Volcano, its perfectly symmetrical cone covered in snow. The lake reflects the green foothills of the magnificent volcano. On the horizon, other snow-capped volcanoes valiantly reach skyward.

Both lakes are excellent for recreation: fishing, kayaking, swimming, windsurfing and sailing are some of the more common activities. Todos Santos Lake is on the Chilean side of the legendary Chile-Argentina lake crossing.  If you decide to do the crossing—and it’s breath-taking—you’ll either begin or end your trip there. Active visitors may want to climb Osorno Volcano, or visit one of the many National Parks in the region.

For those who do not like to fish or sail, there are many more laid-back activities in which to participate, especially in the summer time. Check out the week-long run of classical concerts at the end of January or the handicraft exhibition in Frutillar.

There are all kinds of hotels, hostels and cabins along the shores of the lake and in the towns. There are also many restaurants to enjoy lake fish, lamb and traditional pastries based on German recipes (kĂĽchens), as well as traditional Chilean fare.

In short, the Lake Llanquihue region has something for everyone, from nature lovers to adventure travelers, shoppers and fans of fine dining. Bring a camera and your sense of adventure, and don’t forget to send postcards home to make your friends jealous!

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