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Lago Puyehue

In the central part of the Lakes District lies Lago Puyehue, the largest body of water between Lago Ranco to the north and Lago Llanquihue to the south. This is one of the most transited sectors of southern Chile. Ruta 215 is an international highway that connects Osorno with Bariloche, Argentina, by way of the Paso Cardenal Antonio Samoré border crossing. All year long, travelers transit this route, stopping off to enjoy the hot springs and (in winter) skiing at Parque Nacional Puyehue, or to cast a line into the lake's waters for a bit of trout and salmon. For good reason the Mapuche called this lake Puyehue, which means in Mapudungun "place of little fishes."


South of Osorno is the turnoff for Ruta 215. The road is lined with tree-edged pastures, orchards and produce farms. On the southeast horizon rise snowy, cone-shaped Osorno Volcano and the twisted point of Puntiagudo. At Km 25 of the international route is Auto Museum Moncopulli with over 80 vintage cars on exhibit (Tuesday-Sunday 10 a.m.-6 p.m., daily to 8 p.m. in summer. Tel.: 064-21-0744, E-mail:, URL: Entry: adults $4, seniors $3, students $2, children under 10 $1).


Ruta 215 continues eastward, skirting the southern shore of Lago Puyehue. This side of the lake is the more developed, due to its long history. For over 2000 years humans have occupied this area. In 1260 the Mapuche nation crossed the Andes into Central Chile. The Huilliche of the region were displaced southward to the lakes region, including to Lago Puyahue. This, in turn, caused the nomadic Poya to move to the Gol Gol River basin and the Puelche to the mountains in the south sector of what is today Parque Nacional Puyehue.


On orders of Spanish Governor Pedro de Valdivia, Teniente General Francisco de Villagra was the first white to penetrate the area in 1553. The following year, Diego de Ortiz de Gatica was awarded with a great expanse of land along the eastern shores of Lago Puyehue. By the 17th century, Spanish fortresses were protecting gold mines near the Termas de Puyehue. Yet to this day are vestiges of one fort on Playa Puyehue, near the entrance to the park.


Despite this activity, the region continued to be sparsely settled. In 1804 Juan Mackeena explored the lands around Lago Puyehue. He reported it as an isolated place with almost no population and impenetrable mountains. Impassable swamp covered the landscape between Puyehue and Rupanco Lakes. The Reserva Forestal de Puyehue was established in 1914, but later passed to private hands. A rail line was constructed from Entre Lagos to Osorno to ship lumber from Puyehue and Rupanco. To preserve the most virgin forests remaining and natural attractions, Parque Nacional Puyehue was created in 1941.


Today the only town of note is Villa Entre Lagos, 46 kilometers (28 miles) from Osorno. Entre Lagos is a cheaper alternative to staying in Parque Nacional Puyehue, with both hostels and camping. Besides being a good base for visiting the national park and its hot springs, this village has other activities to enjoy, like fly fishing, horseback riding and water sports.


From Entre Lagos the road continues to be lined with cabañas and camping. Some of the attractions along this route are Golgol and BahĂ­a FutacullĂ­n, where the RĂ­o Ñilque flows into Lago Puyehue, in front of Isla Fresia. This 400-hectare island in the northeast corner of the lake is covered with native forest, predominantly of pellĂ­ or roble (Nothofagus oblicua). Agencies organize hunting expeditions on Fresia, to bag the introduced species ciervo colorado or ciervo rojo (Cervus elaphus, red deer), ciervo dama (Dama dama, fallow deer), muflĂłn (Ovis musimon, mouflon), corzo (Capreolus capreolus, European roe deer) and chivo cimarrĂłn salvaje  (Ovis canadensis, Bighorn sheep).  At the far eastern end of the lake is the boundary for Parque Nacional Puyehue. Km 76 is the turnoff to the Aguas Calientes sector, which passes by Termas de Puyehue. The north shore of Lago Puyehue is virtually undeveloped. Mantilhue is a small village with extensive beaches, fishing and water sports.


In Entre Lagos:

Entre Lagos has a full range of services, including a branch of Banco Estado (ATM; US dollar and Euro exchange), supermarkets, restaurants, phone call centers, internet and shops carrying fishing tackle. Agencia de Viajes e InformaciĂłn has information about Entre Lagos and neighboring region (O'Higgins 298, Tel.: 37-1846, E-mail: agenciapuyehue(at), URL:


Getting to and away:

 From the east end of Osorno's Mercado Municipal, Expreso Lago Puyehue leaves for Aguas Calientes sector of the national park, passing through Entre Lagos (9 buses 7 a.m.-7:15 p.m., $3.40, 1.25 hours, last back 7 p.m.). Three of these buses (10:30 a.m., 3 p.m., 7:15 p.m.) continue to the Anticura sector of Parque Nacional Puyehue (minimum $18; if two or more persons $9 each).


Other buses leave for Entre Lagos from the west end of the Mercado Municipal in Osorno (daily every 10 minutes 6:45 a.m.-9:30 p.m., last back 9:20 p.m., $2.20, 1 hour).




Hostería y Cabañas Villa Veneto ($12/person)

     General Lagos 602

     Tel.: 37-1275

Hospedajes y Cabañas Miraflores (Rooms: $36/single, $50/double)

     RamĂ­rez 480

     Tel.: 37-1275

     E-mail: Olivia.hostalmiraflores(at); ).




Café Entre Lagos

     RodrĂ­guez 196

     Tel.: 09-577-3093

     E-mail: cafeentrelagos(at)


Restaurant Al Fin el Rancho

     General Lagos 769

     Tel.: 09-075-2838

     E-mail: restaurantranchopancho(at)



Along the south shore of the lake, on the Camino Internacional towards Parque Nacional Puyehue, are many campgrounds, including:

 No Me Olvides

     Ruta 215, Km 56

     Tel.: 064-37-1645

     E-mail: campnomeolvides(at)

 Los Copihues

     Km 58

     Tel.: 064-37-1645

     E-mail: camploscopihues(at)









Other places nearby Lago Puyehue: PucĂłn, Parque Nacional Tolhuaca, Lago Llanquihue, Parque Nacional Alerce Andino, Parque Nacional Conguillio, Osorno, Lago Panguipulli, Parque Nacional Vicente PĂ©rez Rosales, Parque Nacional Villarrica and RalĂșn.

By Lorraine Caputo

Upon re-declaring her independence at age 29, Lorraine Caputo packed her trusty Rocinante (so her knapsack's called) and began...

18 Feb 2009

Things to do in Lago Puyehue

Termas Puyehue

129064In a forest clearing on the edge of Parque Nacional Puyuhue is Termas Puyuhue, an exclusive hot spring resort. On the broad verandah around the two open-air pools, bathers sun between dips in the ...
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Lago Puyehue, Chile
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