The crystalline waters of Lago Llanquihue, the countryâ€™s second largest lake, shine like the five-pointed star of the nation's flag. In the mid-19th century, this area became quite popular with German immigrants. The fertile lands were perfect for raising crops and cattle. The many towns that dot the shores of Lago Llanquihue still retain their Teutonic architecture and cultural traditions. The churches of the region, built by German priests and teachers, are predominantly northern European neo-Romanesque and neo-Gothic in style. The iglesias in Puerto Varas, Frutillar, Puerto Octay, Los Bajos, Playa MaitĂ©n and Puerto Fonck are such examples. But the beauty of the region extends far beyond the man-made elements. Pachamama (Mother Earth) created natural wonders long before the arrival of the Germans, or even the indigenous Mapuche-Huilliche people. Ringing the lake are the Osorno (2,652 m/8,619 ft) and Calbuco Volcanoes (2,015 m/6,549 ft), and evergreen forests. All this diversity makes Lago Llanquihue one of the most visited lakes in the Lake District.
Reserva Nacional Llanquihue, Parque Nacional Alerce Andino, Monumento Natural Nahuel Ă‘adi and Parque Nacional Vicente PĂ©rez Rosales protect a large portion of Lago Llanquihueâ€™s forests. These parks provide a number of activities for outdoors enthusiasts, including trekking, hiking, horseback riding and mountain climbing. From Puerto Octay, hike around VolcĂˇn Osorno to Lago Todos los Santos, or do a three-day mountain bike tour around Lago Llanquihue. Some of the best fly fishing in the country is here, with brown (fario) and rainbow (arco iris) trout, and salmon. You can go rafting or canyoning down the rapids of the PetrohuĂ© River, which flows between Lagos PetrohuĂ© and Llanquihue. If you prefer a more relaxed tour, then sail from Puerto Varas aboard the CapitĂˇn Haase, a motorized, corsair-style 65-foot long boat, or cruise across Lago Todo los Santos into Argentina.
A 186-kilometer (112-mi) circuit around the lake leads you into the many vistas of Lago Llanquihue. From Osorno, Ruta U-55 heads south towards Lago Llaniquihue. Across the rolling land, pine and broad-leaf trees edge fields of alfalfa, and pastures of dairy cattle and sheep. Wildflowers blossom alongside the road. After some 50 kilometers (30 mi), you arrive to Puerto Octay, on the north point of Lago Llanquihue. Volcanes Osorno and Puntiagudo (2,498 m/8,119 feet) stud the horizon of this village that still retains much of its German character.
From Puerto Octay, the road hugs the north shore, passing through Puerto Fonck, then arriving to Las Cascadas on the eastern shore of Lago Llanquihue (20 km/12 mi from Puerto Octay). The views of the Osorno, Calbuco, Puntiagudo and Tronador (3,460 m/11,245 ft) Volcanoes are breathtaking. At the foot of VolcĂˇn Osorno, this village makes a good base camp for climbing the peak. Those who come just to enjoy unblemished nature may soak up the rays on the broad, fine sand beach or hike the trail that traverses native forests to Laguna Verde. The big attraction is the waterfalls draping the hillside a few kilometers from town. Las Cascadas is a favorite summer vacation spot. During the low season, the hamlet becomes somnolent.
A narrow gravel road winds southward from Las Cascadas to Ensenada on the southeast corner of lake. Along the way youâ€™ll cross a lava flow from the 1835 eruption of VolcĂˇn Osorno. Ensenada is the gateway village into Parque Nacional Vicente PĂ©rez Rosales. The big attractions of this park are the Saltos de PetrohuĂ©, the emerald-colored Laguna Verde and the Osorno Volcano with the Centro de Ski y MontaĂ±a VolcĂˇn Osorno (Ensenada - VolcĂˇn Osorno, Km 14.3, Tel.: 23-3445). From Ensenada, another road heads southeast into the Reserva Nacional Llanquihue, which is accessed by way of the road to Lago Chapo and RĂo Blanco village. There, an eight-kilometer (4.8 mi) trail leads to a rustic refuge on the flanks of VolcĂˇn Calbuco. A couple of festivals to hit while in Ensenada are the Fiesta de Murta, focusing on products made of the local myrtle plant (third weekend of April), and The Fiesta de San SebastiĂˇn, the patron Saint (January 20).
The route then heads westward along Lago Llanquihueâ€™s southern shore to the most-visited town in this region, Puerto Varas. This village of rose-lined streets is considered one of the most beautiful in Chile. Touring the architectural monuments built by German immigrants, fishing, rafting, boating and canopying are just a few of the adventures you can undertake here. Nearby is Parque Nahuel Ă‘adi, a 200-hectare nature reserve.
From Puerto Varas, the circuit around the lake begins to swing north. Llanquihue is an agricultural city and home of Cecinas Llanquihue, a sausage maker. Further north is Frutillar, a village renowned for its Bavarian architecture, gardens and annual music festival. Just before returning to Puerto Octay, you come to Quilanto, a hamlet with views of the volcanoes, islands and PenĂnsula Centinela, just five kilometers (3 mi) from Puerto Octay.
Information about lodging, restaurants and other tourist services for Puerto Octay, Frutillar, Puerto Varas and PN Vicente PĂ©rez Rosales are found under those destinations. For more about the Lago Llanquihue region visit: www.lagollanquihue.cl, www.lagollanquihue.com or www.interpatagonia.com.
Camping Las Cascadas (V. PĂ©rez Rosales s/n, Tel.: 09-618-8333, E-mail: email@example.com): 2 persons $8.
HosterĂa Irma (LasCascadas s/n, Tel.: 39-6227): $16 per person.
La Posada del Colono (Tel.: 09-9754-7464, E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org, URL: www.laposadadelcolono.cl): 19th-century German house with an archaeological collection, $17 per person.
Restaurant Rio de Lava (Calle Vicente Peres Rosales, Tel.: 09-8-8473647)
Information about the village and services is available at: www.laensenada.cl.
Traypin Adventure (Ruta Internacional 225, Km 42, Tel.: 08-410-1316, URL: www.traypin-adventure.com): adventure tourism.
Southern Chile Expeditions (Ruta 225, Km 41, Tel.: 21-2030): fly fishing, adventure tourism, rafting.
Terra Sur Ecoaventura (Ruta 225, Km 44, Tel.: 23-3140): mountain bikes, horseback riding.
Conservera Los Alpes (Ruta 225, Km33.5, Tel:33-5354): smoked salmon and trout.
RĂo Blanco Mermeladas (Ruta 225 Km 35, Tel:33-5321): cakes, jams.
Quesos RĂo Blanco (Ruta 225 Km 36): cheese.
Lavanda de Ensenada (Ruta 225 Km 36.1): essential oils, soaps.
Miel LĂĽckeheide (Ruta 225, Km43.6, Tel.: 21-2037): honey.
Hospedaje Caryun (Ruta 225, Km 39.5, Tel.: 21-2079, URL: www.caryun.cl)
Hospedaje Ensenada (Ruta 225, Km 43, Tel.: 21-2050, www.hospedajeensenada.blogspot.com)
Hotel Borde Lago (Puerto Varas â€“ Ensenada Km 4, Tel.: 43-8999, URL: www.bordelago.cl)
Restaurant Las Tranqueras (Ruta 225, Km 41, Tel.: 21-2056 / 29-9092, E-mail: email@example.com, URL: tranqueras.cl)
Canta Rana (Ruta 225, Km 42.3, Tel.: 21-2010)
PucarĂˇ (Ruta 225, Km 42.5, Tel.: 21-2018)
CorporaciĂłn Turismo de Llanquihue (Tel.: 24-2114 / 24-2658), Cabinas TelefĂłnicas (Baquedano esq M. Bulnes), Correo (V. P. Rosales esq O'Higgins)
Landschaft (Camino a Totoral, Km 1, Casilla: 158, Tel.: 24-2658)
Los Ulmos (Casilla 105, Tel.: 33-8403, Cel: 09-647-0822)
Cecinas Llanquihue (Oâ€™Higgins and Matta, Tel.: 24-2614, URL: www.cecinas-llanquihue.cl): sausages and smoked meats
Camping Baumbach (Camino a Tortoral 2200, tel: 24-2643)
Hospedaje Wiehoff (ErrĂˇzuriz 154, Tel.: 09-959-6799)
CabaĂ±as Los Encinos (Camino Llanquihue â€“ Tortoral, Km 6, Tel.: 33-0115)
Baumbach (Camino a Totoral Tel: 24-2643), Las Margaritas (Camino a Totoral, Km 2, Tel.: 24-2607), CervecerĂa Colonos (Km 4, Tel.: 24-2160)
(Phone Code: 064 â€“ Puerto Octay, Las Cascadas; 065 â€“ for rest of region)
Other places nearby Lago Llanquihue: Parque Nacional Vicente PĂ©rez Rosales, Lago Pirehueico, Parque Nacional Conguillio, Lonquimay, Puerto Varas, Lago Ranco, Parque Nacional Tolhuaca, Osorno, Villarrica and Frutillar .
Upon re-declaring her independence at age 29, Lorraine Caputo packed her trusty Rocinante (so her knapsack's called) and began...