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 SamorÃ© 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: firstname.lastname@example.org, URL: www.moncopulli.cl. 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 cabaÃ±as and camping. Some of the attractions along this route are Golgol and BahÃa FutacullÃn, where the RÃo Ã‘ilque 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 pellÃ 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), muflÃ³n (Ovis musimon, mouflon), corzo (Capreolus capreolus, European roe deer) and chivo cimarrÃ³n 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 InformaciÃ³n has information about Entre Lagos and neighboring region (O'Higgins 298, Tel.: 37-1846, E-mail: agenciapuyehue(at), URL: gmail.comwww.agenciapuyehue.cl).
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).
HosterÃa y CabaÃ±as Villa Veneto ($12/person)
General Lagos 602
Hospedajes y CabaÃ±as Miraflores (Rooms: $36/single, $50/double)
E-mail: Olivia.hostalmiraflores(at); ). gmail.com
CafÃ© Entre Lagos
E-mail: cafeentrelagos(at)) gmail.com
Restaurant Al Fin el Rancho
General Lagos 769
E-mail: restaurantranchopancho(at)) gmail.com
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
E-mail: campnomeolvides(at)) gmail.com
E-mail: camploscopihues(at)) gmail.com
Other places nearby Lago Puyehue: Parque Nacional Vicente PÃ©rez Rosales, CuracautÃn, Puerto Varas, Osorno, CochamÃ³, Parque Nacional Alerce Andino, Puerto Octay, Parque Nacional Puyehue, Parque Nacional Villarrica and Lago Llanquihue.
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