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Parque Nacional Vicente Pérez Rosales

Touching the eastern shore of Lago Llanquihue and extending on to the Argentine border is Parque Nacional (PN) Vicente Pérez Rosales. This is Chile’s oldest national park, created in 1926 to protect 253,780 hectares of virgin forest. Within its boundaries are three of southern Chile’s most spectacular volcanoes: Puntiagudo (2490 m/8093 ft), Tronador (3441 m/ 1,184 ft) and Osorno (2661 m/8649 ft), which has a ski center. Like a giant blue mirror reflecting the forests, sky and mountains, is Lago Todos los Santos across which journeyers sail to Argentina. On the northern horizon of this park is PN Puyehue.


The park's altitude ranges from 50 meters (163 ft) on the shores of Lago Llanquihue, to the snowy peak of Volcán Tronador at 3,441 meters (11,184 ft). From the glaciers icing that volcano is born Río Peulla, which flows into Lago Todos los Santos. Other major rivers are the Negro, Puntiagudo and Chileno. Río Cayutué wends to Laguna Cayutué in the southwest sector of the park. These river valleys, especially those of Río Petrohué and Río Caytué, are some of the most beautiful landscapes of PN Vicente Pérez Rosales. Other scenic wonders are Volcán Osorno and its chain of craters, Saltos de Petrohué waterfalls, Lago Todos los Santos and Volcán Tronador. The most important players in the formation of this land are glaciers and plate tectonics. Puntiagudo and Osorno are the youngest mountains, and Picada (1,710 m/5,558 ft) and Tronador the oldest. All this volcanic activity also creates the Vuriloche, Ralún and El Callao hot springs within the park. When the glaciers began retreating and Osorno erupted onto the scene, Lago Todos los Santos was formed.


The climate within Rosales park is temperate and wet year-round. The mean annual rainfall ranges from 2,500 millimeters at Ensenada on Lago Llanquihue, to 4,000 millimeters at Casapangue, near Paso Pérez Rosales. At higher altitudes, precipitation is in the form of snow. In January, temperatures average 16ºC (61ºF) and in June, 6.5ºC (44ºF).


This moist climate creates the perfect environment for the area's humid evergreen forests. The predominant species are the canelo (winter's bark, Drimys winteri), coigüe (Nothofagus dombeyi), patagua (lily of the valley tree, Crinodendron patagua), pitra (Myrceugenia exsucca), arrayán (Chilean myrtle, Luma apiculata), avellano (Chilean hazel, Gevuina avellana), ulmo (Eucryphia cordifolia), tineo (Weinmannia trichosperma) and tepa (Laurelia philippiana). Found around Lago Todos los Santos are the olivillo (Aextoxicon punctatum) and at higher altitudes, the alerce (Patagonian cypress, Fitzroya cupressoides) and lenga (lenga beech, Nothofagus pumilio). On Volcán Osorno’s slopes grows murta (Chilean guava, Ugni molinae).


Common fauna inhabiting these woodlands are the gato montés (Geoffroy's cat, Oncifelis geoffroyi), puma (Puma concolor), guiña (kodkod, Oncifelis guigna), zorro chilla (South American grey fox, Psuedolopex griseus), huillín (southern river otter, Lontra provocax), quique (lesser grisson, Galictis cuja) and two species of Chilean marsupials: comadrejita trompuda (Chilean shrew opossum, Rhyncholestes raphanunis) and monito del monte (austral opposum, Dromiciops gliroides). When hiking, keep an eye on the sky for the Condor (Vultur gryphus), Huala (Great Grebe, Podiceps major), Pato Quetro (Steamer Duck, Micropterus cinereus), Pato Correntino (Torrent Duck, Merganetta armata), Martín Pescador (Ringed Kingfisher, Ceryle torquita), Traro (Crested Caracara, Polyborus plancus), Picaflor Chico (Green-backed Firecrown Hummingbird, Sepanoides galeritus), Carpintero Negro (Magellanic Woodpecker, Campephilus magellanicus), Caiquen (Magellan Goose, Chloephaga picta), Tagua (Red-gartered Coot, Fulica armillata) and Águila (Black-chested Buzzard-eagle, Geranoetus melanoleucus).


PN Vicente Pérez Rosales is divided into six sectors. In the western part are Ensenada, Saltos de Petrohué and Petrohué. To the north of these are sectores Volcán Osorno and La Picada. In the extreme east is sector Peulla. Guarderías (ranger stations) are at Saltos de Petrohué, Petrohué, Volcán Osorno and Peulla. At Salto de Petrohué the entry fee is $1.40. Conaf in Puerto Montt (Ochagavá 458, Tel.: 06-5-486115) has a pamphlet with a relief map of the park, but it doesn't show any of the trails.


The lands have long been laced with trails leading from one side of the Andes to the other, as the Poya and Puelche indigenous traders traversed this area. The Spanish used a route through the southern section of the modern park in their missionary travels from Chiloé to Nahuelhuapi. Today visitors journeying to PN Vicente Pérez Rosales have a choice of 16 trails to hike, including multi-day treks and mountain expeditions. The paths fall into three categories: sendero recreativo (recreational trail), sendero educativo or interpretativo (educational or interpretive trail) and sendero de excursión (excursion trail).


Recreational trails:


Saltos del Río Petrohué:

Distance: 370 m/1,203 ft

Difficulty: Easy

Duration: 10 minutes

Leads to the spectacular waterfalls near the park’s western entrance.


Los Enamorados:

Distance: 600 m/1,950 ft

Difficulty: Easy

Duration: 30 minutes

In Sector Saltos del Río Petrohué.


Laguna Verde:

Distance: 180 m/ 585 ft

Difficulty: Medium

Duration: 20 minutes

Another short trail in the western sector, to a brilliant emerald-colored lagoon.


Velo de la Novia or Cascada de los Novios:

Distance: 400 m/ 1,300 ft

Difficulty: Easy

Duration: 25 minutes

Leads to a cascade from the Sector Peulla ranger station.


Interpretive trails:



Distance: 980 m/ 3,185 ft

Difficulty: Medium

Duration: 45 minutes

In Sector Saltos del Río Petrohué.


Los Pilleyos:

Distance: 1.2 km /1 mi

Difficulty: Easy

Duration: 45 minutes

In Sector Ensenada


Excursion trails:

For security reasons, trekkers doing any of the senderos de excursión must stop into the Conaf office at Secto Petrohué to register and obtain information.


Paso Desolación:

Distance: 12 km/7.2 mi

Difficulty: Medium

Duration: 5-6 hours round trip

This trail traverses the eastern slopes of Volcán Osorno, to an altitude of 1,100m (3,608 ft). Views of Volcán Tronador and Lago Todos los Santos.


Rincón del Osorno:

Distance: 5 km/3 mi

Difficulty: Medium

Duration: 4 hours round trip

Beginning in Petrohué, the hike follows the shores of Lago Petrohué.


El Solitario:

Distance: 6 km/3.6 mi

Difficulty: Medium

Duration: 2 hours

This sendero begins six kilometers (3.6 mi) down the road to Volcán Osorno and ends one kilometer (0.6 mi) from Saltos del Río Petrohué.


Laguna Margarita:

Distance: 8 km/4.8 mi

Difficulty: Difficult

Duration: 8 hours round trip

From the Peulla guardería to Laguna Margarita, a small lake surrounded by lenga forest.


Los Alerzales:

Distance: 3.4 km/2.1 mi

Difficulty: Difficult

Duration: 4 hours


El Cayutúe:

Distance: 25 km/15 mi

Difficulty: Medium

Duration: 5 hours

First, you must boat to the inlet on the south bank of Lake Todos los Santos to the trail head, then hike to Laguna Cuyutúe.


Cerro Rigi:

Distance: 8 km/4.8 mi

Difficulty: Medium

Duration: 5.5 hours

In sector Peulla, near Paso Pérez Rosales.


Paso Vuriloche:

Distance: 40 km/24 mi

Difficulty: Difficult

Duration: 5 days on horse

To the border crossing into Argentina, traveled only January through February. Club Andino maintains a refuge along the way. For more information, see:


Volcán Osorno

Distance: 6 km/3.6 mi

Difficulty: Expert

Duration: 10 hours

Scaling the steep slopes of this stratovolcano.


Termas de Callao:

Distance: 8 km/4.8 mi

Difficulty: Medium

Duration: 5 hours

The journey begins with a launch ride to the north shore of Lago Todos los Santos ($70 one way whole boat). The path heads to the hot springs Termas de Callao, where lodging is available. Another trail begins at the mouth of Río Techado.


Other Activities


PN Vicente Pérez Rosales offers other adventures for nature seekers. Swimming and trout fishing (November-May) are possible in Sector Ensenada on Lago Llanquihué. You can also cast your line at Peulla. Rafting and canyoning the white waters of Río Petrohué is guaranteed to get the blood pumping. Kayakers will find a challenge on that river, too, or they can enjoy the tranquil waters of Lago Todos los Santos. Volcán Osorno attracts mountain climbers in warm months, and skiers and snowboarders in winter at the 600-hectare Centro de Ski y Montaña Volcán Osorno. Those seeking to scale Osorno or other peaks must register with Conaf and show their credentials. Finally, given the great diversity of species here, be sure to bring your camera and binocculars.


The park service has a campground at the Petrohué ranger station. The 24 sites have fire pits, tables, parking, potable water and bathrooms ($16 per site per day, for up to five persons).


There is privately owned lodging in various sectors of the park:


Sector Petrohué:

Hotel Petrohué (Ruta 225, Km 64

Tel.: 065-21-2025, E-mail:



Sector Volcán Osorno:

Refugio Los Pumas (Camino Ensenada – Volcán Osorno, Km 12)

Centro de Ski y Montaña Volcán Osorno (Camino Ensenada - Volcán Osorno, Km14.3, Tel.:065-23-3445 / 09-7659-1522 / 09-9262-3323, URL:, Refugio Teski (Camino Ensenada – Volcán Osorno, Km 16)


Sector La Picada:

Refugio Termas El Callao (Valle El Callao, Tel.: 09-820-2337) – privately owned cabaña at the El Callao hot springs


Sector Peulla:

Hotel Peulla (Tel.: 065-36-7094, URL:

Hotel Natura (Tel.: 065-36-7094, URL:


Ensenada village has hotels, restaurants and other services. Camp stove fuel can be bought here and in Ralún.


Other places nearby Parque Nacional Vicente Pérez Rosales: Lago Pirehueico, Lago Ranco, Ralún, Parque Nacional Puyehue, Parque Nacional Villarrica, Ensenada, Curarrehue , Lonquimay, Parque Nacional Conguillio and Reserva Nacional Malalcahuello-Nalcas.

By Lorraine Caputo

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

07 Jul 2009

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