The City of Caesars (la Ciudad de CĂ©sares) was on the shores of Lago Ranco â€“ or so thought the Valdivia governor don JoaquĂn de Espinosa DĂˇvalos. In 1777 he sent an expedition in search of the legendary city. The explorers, unable to find a home with the Caesars, founded LlifĂ©n instead.
Today the major city on the shores of Lago Ranco is Futrono, â€śThe Place of the Smokes,â€ť as Futrono means in Mapudungun (123 kilometers /
74 miles from the regionâ€™s capital). Surrounded by mountains, this village is the place of traditions and legends. On Isla Huapi, accessible by boat from Futrono, is the main reservation of the Mapuche-Huilliche in the area. Here, this indigenous nation maintains its customs. La Piedra de Bruja (the Witchâ€™s Stone) on the island is said to bless visitors with a long life. Another mythical place is the Cueva de Weichafe where Mapuche warriors were protected by the spirits of the cave.
One of the areaâ€™s most important celebrations is the Feria Isla Huapi in January and February. In town, travelers can sun on Playa GaldĂˇmez, or check out the Iglesia San Conrado, the Plaza de Armas and the Parque BotĂˇnico Futronhue. Fishing is one of the rewarding activities in this area, especially on the RĂos Blanco, Caunahue and Hueinahue. The season runs from mid-November to the end of May. Futrono hosts the Rally del Lago Ranco in March and a triathlon in October.
A 124-kilometer (74.5-mile) road, of which only 30 kilometers (18 miles) is paved, runs around Lago Ranco. Heading east on this route is the original settlement of the Lago Ranco region, LlifĂ©n. Midways are several spots of interest. Reserva Natural Mocho-Choshuenco is home to the 2,415-meter (7,849-foot) tall VolcĂˇn Choshuenco. Winter sports are an attraction in this park, as well as hiking any season of the year. Also between Futrono and LlifĂ©n is Cruce Cerrillos, from where a side road leads to the Santuario de la Virgen del Lago and the rustic Termas de Cerrillos (15 kilometers / 9 miles northeast).
LlifĂ©n is a port on the far eastern shore of Lago Ranco, 20 kilometers (12 miles) from Futrono. Perhaps what drew the 1777 expedition to stay here are the hot springs located just one kilometer (0.6 miles) from the center of town. The village has many beaches, including Playa Bonita, Puerto LlifĂ©n, Piedra Azul, Huequecura and Caunahue. Bonita, accessible only by boat, has very fine sand. From Cerro Huequecura are great views of the lake, islands and the surrounding hills. Another pastime besides sun and hot spring bathing is rainbow trout fishing. Donâ€™t forget to visit Santuario de LlifĂ©n and the Centro Comunitario Artesanal.
From LlifĂ©n an unpaved road heads to comuna Maihue on Lago Maihue, with hot springs, fishing and campground. In 1948, poet Pablo Neruda hid out at these termas while escaping to exile. Various communities around Lago Ranco are developing La Ruta de Neruda, following the footsteps of his flight.
The lake road crosses RĂo Calcurrupe and RĂo Nilahue which has waterfalls upstream. This dirt road swings west through RiĂ±inahue hamlet before reaching Lago Ranco village. The city has several things to offer to the casual visitor. Parque Municipal Piedra Alfonso Brandt protects 25 hectares of native forest and affords views of the lake and its 13 main islands. Museo Tringlo houses anthropological and archaeological pieces. Along Lago Rancoâ€™s shore here are over 10 kilometers (6 miles) of sand beach to stroll. In summer boats leave from the cityâ€™s pier for cruises around the lake. The third week of November is the Campeonato Regional de Pesca Deportiva.
From the town of Lago Ranco the road bends north to the RĂo Bueno. This river has a stretch of intense Class II and III rapids. Whitewater rafting runs on the coigĂĽe and roble forested banks of this emerald river end at el tapĂłn (the stopper), which has waves and whirlpools. Expeditions can be arranged with tour operators in Futrono. Balsas take passengers across the stiller waters of the mouth of the river. The route then continue northward past Playas San Pedro and Imahue. Four kilometers (2.4 miles) from Futrono is BahĂa Coiquea, which has an extensive white sand beach, camping, a tourist complex and golf course.
Lago Ranco is Chileâ€™s third-largest lake. Its surface measures 42,300 hectares. The economy of the region is based on dairy farming. Traditional crafts in wood and wool weaving are also mainstays, as is tourism.
Futrono, LliifĂ©n and Lago Ranco have hotels and restaurants. Most are open only in the summer. Campsites in the Lago Ranco region are:
Camping Cuesta de Arena (Cruce Vista Hermosa),
BahĂa Coique (Playa Coique, Tel.: 48-1264),
BahĂa Las Rosas (sector Puerto Las Rosas, Tel.: 48-1615)
Maqueo (sector Maqueo).
The tourism office is located in the Municipalidad (Balmaceda and Oâ€™Higgins, Tel.: 48-2636, URL: www.turismofutrono.cl).
HosterĂa Futronhue (Balmaceda 90, Tel.: 48-1265)
HosterĂa Rosengarden (Km 1.5 Futrono-LlifĂ©n, Tel.: 48-1044; $24 per person)
CabaĂ±as Lahuenco (Km 1, sector Cun-Cun, Tel.: 48-1326, E-mail: cabaĂ±firstname.lastname@example.org; 1 person $30, 2 persdons $50 in low season; also has campsites).
Don Floro (Balmaceda 141, Tel.: 48-1271)
La Guarida (Padre Leodegario 47, Tel.: 48-1137)
La Jungla (Balmaceda 465, Tel.: 48-1869)
The village has a tourism office at the crossroads in the town center, supermarket and other services.
Posada del Turista (Tel.: 197-1954; $12 per person)
Spa Termas de LlifĂ©n (Tel.: 24-7810, E-mail: email@example.com, URL: www.termasllifen.cl; $30 per person)
Restaurante HosterĂa Chollinco (Chollinco km 3, Tel.: 29-1919, URL: www.hosteriachollinco.cl)
CocinerĂa Rural Bello Amanecer (Sector Chumpeco s/n, Tel.: 197-1941)
In Lago Ranco
Lago Ranco has a tourism office in the Municipalidad (ViĂ±a del Mar 133, Tel.: 49-1212, URL: www.lagoranco.cl), food shops, tour operators, internet, hospital and other services.
Hotel Parque Thule (Km 2 Lago Ranco, sector Quillaico, Tel.: 48-1293. E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org, URL: hotelth.tripod.com ; $10 per person)
Hospedaje Los Pinos (ValparaĂso 537, Tel.: 49-1329, E-mail: email@example.com, URL: hospedajelospinos.blogspot.com; $16 per person)
Casona Italiana (ViĂ±a del Mar 367, Tel.: 49-1225; $20 per person)
Phoenix (ViĂ±a del Mar 141, Tel.: 49-1226)
Ruca Ranco (Costanera 1000, Tel.: 49-1406)
(Futrono â€” Altitude: 272 meters / 884 feet, Population: 545; LlifĂ©n â€” Altitude: s/d, Population: 2035; Lago Ranco â€” Altitude: 390 meters / 1268 feet, Population: 8070. Phone Code for all villages: 063)
Other places nearby Lago Ranco: Parque Nacional Conguillio, CuracautĂn, Reserva Nacional Malalcahuello-Nalcas, Temuco, Puerto Varas, Reserva Nacional Alto BĂo BĂo, Parque Nacional Vicente PĂ©rez Rosales, CochamĂł, Lago Panguipulli and Puerto Octay.
Upon re-declaring her independence at age 29, Lorraine Caputo packed her trusty Rocinante (so her knapsack's called) and began...