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Siete Lagos Region

Deep in the Andean foothills, off the beaten track for most travelers, is a world where mists swirl around crystalline lakes. Trout and salmon fishing are excellent here. Rushing rivers guarantee jostling rides for the experienced rafters and kayakers. Enchanting villages provide refuge for journeyer needing a quiet get-away from the rigors of the road. After a day of trekking, hot springs await to soothe tired muscles. This, the RegiĆ³n Siete Lagos, or Seven Lakes Region, encompasses CalafquĆ©n, Pellaifa, Pullinque, Neltume, RiƱihue and Pirehueico Lakes. Connected by rivers fed by Andean snows, the chain of waterways eventually drains into the Pacific Ocean.

The northern-most lake is CalafquĆ©n upon whose shores are LicĆ”n Ray and CoƱaripe. A curious thing is that LicĆ”n Ray is not considered part of Seven Lakes area, as it is in the IX RegiĆ³n de la AraucanĆ­a and not in X RegiĆ³n de los RĆ­os. From CoƱaripe begins the Ruta de Salud, leading to 14 hot springs. Another attraction is the Sendero de JabalĆ­, savoring the Wild Boar, a species introduced from Europe. The third week of July, CoƱaripe hosts a gastronomic fair featuring this feral swine.

An unpaved road leaves CoƱaripe, wrapping around the north shore of Lago Pellaife, to CarirriƱe and LiquiƱe. Along this route are a number of thermal springs that can be visited. From LiquiƱe a poor road continues to Paso CarirriƱe border crossing into Argentina.

To the immediate south of Lago CalafquĆ©n is another small lake, Lago Pullinque, and then Lago Panguipulli, whose principle villages are Panguipulli and Choshuenco. A complex system of rivers weaving together connects Lago Panguipulli with Lago Pirehueico. RĆ­o Neltume, whose birthplace is Lago Neltume to the east, joins with the RĆ­o Fuy from Lago Pirehueico to form the RĆ­o Llanquihue. This network of rivers comprises some of Chile's best and least explored rafting country. Nearby is the Reserva BiolĆ³gico Huilo Huilo. On the northern tip of Lago Pirehueico is Puerto Fuy, from where a ferry departs to Puerto Pirehueico near the Argentine border crossing Paso Hua Hum.

The Rƭo Enco wends from Lago Panguipulli to the seventh lake of the Siete Lagos region, RiƱihue.

On its littoral are only two small hamlets, RiƱimapu and RiƱihue. During the off-season, tranquility reigns in this Region of Seven Lakes and its rivers. Lodging and dining services are limited, with better services being offered in CoƱaripe, Panguipulli, Choshuenco and the Lago Pirehueico ports, Fuy and Pirehueico. In summer, the pace quickens with the arrival of primarily Chilean tourists on holiday. CabaƱas, campground and hostels spring to life. Boat tours on many of the lakes are offered. The bilingual website has good information about what's happening in the region.

By Lorraine Caputo

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

15 Aug 2011

Things to do in Siete Lagos Region

Huilo-Huilo Biological Reserve

Situated 56 kilometers (35 mi) from Panguipulli in the Tenth Region of the Lakes lies the Huilo-Huilo Biological Reserve. Huilo-Huilo can be found near the entrance to the Chilean Patagonia in the ...
National Park
Lago Panguipulli, Chile
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