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From Licán Ray a good blacktop road heads 20 kilometers (12 miles) southeastward along the north shore of Lago Calafquén to Coñaripe. Dark, ragged bluffs peer from the heavy forest. Occasionally the snowy mastiff of mighty Villarrica Volcano is seen. This road is dotted with small sheep farms. In summer, campgrounds and cabañas bloom along the roadside. Rough black sand beaches trim the teal-blue lake. About midways, the route crosses the escorial, or lava flow from the 1971 eruption of Volcán Villarrica. Near Coñaripe is the trailhead for the four-kilometer (2.5 mile) leg of the Sendero de Chile.

Coming into Coñaripe, the highway becomes the village’s main street, Guido Beck de Ramberga. Along this boulevard are the major enterprises of the town: hotels, restaurants, supermarkets, the lone internet and phone courier. Buses also depart from here. The main square is an overgrown green expanse. An ancient tractor parks amidst flowering bushes. On the plaza is the municipal Infocentro tourism office. In the same building is the Cámara de Comercio y Turismo Coñaripe. A rose and fir garden brightens Iglesia Sagrada Familia, a low, angular church shingled in wood. It has a single bell tower. From all along this road are sights of Villarrica and Lanín Volcanoes.

At the far outskirts of town is the unpaved road heading northeast into Parquer Nacional Villarrica. Along this route are several hot springs. Eco Termas Vergara has five pools with 25-45°C (77-113°F) water that are open year-round. Its cabañas, though, are open only in summer (Km 14, Camino Los Cajones, Tel.: 02-196-3720 / 196-3721, E-mail:, URL: Entry: $10-14). Two kilometers (1.2 miles) further are the spectacular Termas Geométricas, designed by Chilean architect Germán del Sol. A series of wooden walkways lead to 17 stone pools nestled in the forest (Km 16, Tel.: 2-214-1214, URL: Entry: $24-28). This road cuts across the national park to Pucón, but it is a summer-only road for 4x4 vehicles.

Southeast of Coñaripe are another half-dozen or more hot springs on the road to Liquiñe. These include Termas Coñaripe with four pools, hotel, cabañas and restaurant (Km 15, Tel.: 045-43-1407, E-mail:, URL:, Entry: $14 adults) and Eco Termas Pellaifa (Km 16, Tel.: 045-41-1973, E-mail:, which has restaurant and cabañas.

Next to the tourism Infocentro is Calle Tepas. This street goes down to Lago Calafquén. Other hostels (open summer only) are here. Before arriving to the lakefront is Feria Campesina Inalafquén Mileiti, a farmers and artisan market.

Lago Calafquén shimmers silver with the sunlight. Its ebony sand beach is the perfect place to relax and catch some rays. Trout and salmon fishing are good. In summer, kayaks, peddle boats and rowboats are rented. South along the shore are many campgrounds. Over a kilometer down the strand is a river. At the mouth is Isla Millahuapi (Isla de Oro), upon which is a permaculture farm. Walking along the lakeshore is a perfect opportunity for birdwatching.

At lunch time (noon until 2 or 3 p.m.), the village rolls up the sidewalks. In the low season everything is somnolent. It rains much in winter, making camping challenging. In January and February full services are available and prices climb steeply.

Coñaripe comes from the Mapudungún word Koharüpü, meaning The Path of the Warrior. Calafquén is Kabafkeh in that indigenous language, signifying The Other Sea.

Tourism Offices:

Municipal Infocentro tourism office (Monday-Friday 9 a.m.-1:30 p.m., 3-6:30 p.m., may be closed in the off-season.
Calle Guido Beck de Ramberga, main plaza)

Cámara de Comercio y Turismo Coñaripe (Wednesday-Saturday 10 a.m.-12:30 p.m., 3-6 p.m., summer only.
Calle Guido Beck de Ramberga, main plaza)


Tour Operator:

Chumay Turismo Aventura (office open in high season. Las Tepas 201, Tel.: 31-7287, URL: offers trekking and hot spring excursions, tours of the Siete Lagos region and Reserva Ecológico Huilo Huilo, and the Lago Pirehueico crossing into Argentina.

Other services:

The health post is on Las Tejas; it has emergency services. Centro de Llamadas Entremaza, next to Porvenir Restaurant on the main drag, provides international calls. Paquetería Central has slow, expensive internet (Bamberga 703).

Lodging (open all year):

Camping Rucahue — Campsites are on a heavily treed lot near the lakefront; bathhouse (Avenida Costanera s/n, Tel.: 31-7210, E-mail: Griedemann(at), URL: — $5 per person (low season), $25 per site (January and February)

Hospedaje Calafquén (Guido Beck de Ramberga 761, Tel.: 31-7301) — Rooms $8 per person, cabañas for up to five persons, with bath and kitchen $30; prices double in summer.

Hotel Elizabeth (Guido Beck de Ramberga 496, Tel.: 31-7279, E-mail: hotel(at), URL: ) — 1 person $30, 2 persons $44 (high or low season).

Restaurants (open all year):

Several dining choices are on Guido Beck de Ramberga Porvenir Restaurant (no. 661), Café Restaurante Central (no. 727). These are only open until 8 p.m. in the low season. Also, La Terraza Café-Restaurant (Calle Las Tejas and Costanera).
1112 meters / 3614 feet, Population:
1420, Phone Code: 063)


Other places nearby Coñaripe: Lago Panguipulli and Lago Pirehueico.

By Lorraine Caputo

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

08 Aug 2011

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