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Lakes District Border Crossings

In winter, snow can close some of the passes. Check with the carabineros in the nearest town to check on road conditions, especially May-September.

Paso Pino Hinchado

The paved Ruta CH-181 goes to Lonquimay, and after passing through Reserva Nacional Alto Bío Bío, arrives at Paso Pino Hinchado (1,884 m / 6,123 ft), 70 kilometers (42 mi) away. The Chilean border post is Liucura, 22 kilometers (13.5 mi) from the actual frontier (summer 8 a.m.-8 p.m., in winter 8 a.m.-6 p.m.). Pino Hinchado, the Argentine post, is seven kilometers (4.2 mi) from the border (summer 8 a.m.-8 p.m., winter 8 a.m.-7 p.m.). Entering Argentina, the road becomes Argentina Ruta Nacional 22 and heads towards Las Lajas, Argentina, from which Zapala and Nuequén can be reached.

Fuel up in Lonquimay, Chile, or Las Lajas, Argentina. Both towns have casas de cambio, lodging and restaurants.

Paso Icalma

Ruta S-61 passes through a landscape of age-old araucaría forests and volcanoes. This route connects Melipueco, the gateway to Parque Nacional Conguillío and the Villarrica and China Muerta National Reserves, with Paso Icalma (1,298 m / 4,219 ft). The road is unpaved. After 54 kilometers (32.5 mi) you come to the Chilean post Icalma, three kilometers (1.8 mi) from the border (summer 8 a.m.-8 p.m., winter 8 a.m.-6 p.m.). Once crossed over into Argentina, it is 12 kilometers (7.2 mi) to the post at Villa Pehuenia (summer 8 a.m.-8 p.m., winter 8 a.m.-7 p.m.). From Villa Pehuenia, you can reach Zapala and Neuquén.

To cross at Icalma, you'll need a salvoconducto (authorization) from the PolicĂ­a Internacional (Victoria: Sotomayor 740, Temuco: Arturo Prat). Snow may close the pass in winter. This border crossing can also be accessed from the north, going from Lonquimay to Liucura to Icalma; Icalma is 76 kilometers (46 mi) from Lonquimay. The road to Liucura is paved, but the stretch from Licura to Icalma is unpaved.

In Icalma is a casa de cambio. Near Icalma and in neighboring Laguna de Icalma and Galletué are many cabañas and campgrounds. Most are only open in the summer.

Paso Mamuil Malal

From Pucón, Ruta CH-119 is paved as far as Curarrahue. Then a 37-kilometer (22.5 mi) gravel road arrives at Paso Mamuil Malal (1,207 m / 3,923 ft). On the Chilean side the post is called Puesco (summer 8 a.m.-8 p.m, other seasons 8 a.m.-6 p.m.). One kilometer (0.6 mi) on is the Argentine post Tromén (summer 8 a.m.-8 p.m, other seasons 8 a.m.-7 p.m.). The gravel highway then becomes Argentina’s Ruta Provincial 60. This crossing is the most direct way to Junín de los Andes (57 km / 34.5 mi) and San Martín de los Andes (98 km / 59 mi).

Paso Carirriñe

From Liquiñe, a poor dirt road heads into the Andes to the 1,215-meter (3,949-ft) pass at Paso Carirriñe. Seven kilometers (4.2 mi) further on is the Argentine aduana (customs). This route enters Parque Nacional Lanín on the other side of the border. The gravel Ruta Provincial 62 arrives at Junín de los Andes; the paved Ruta Nacional 234 heads southward to San Martín de los Andes. The border on either side is open 8 a.m.-8 p.m. Paso Carirriñe is closed in winter. This crossing can only be done in a private vehicle, as there is no public transport. Foreigners need a salvoconducto from the Policía Internacional in Valdivia (Avenida Ramón Picarte 2582). Check with the tourism offices in Valdivia or the carabineros in Liquiñe for current conditions and requirements. Another useful source for information is

Along the Camino Internacional in Liquiñe are 13 hot spring complexes with varying levels of service. Some have lodging. In Liqueñe there are also hotels.

Paso Hua Hum

The land and lake crossing at Paso Hua Hum (also spelled as two words or as one: Huahum) is quite an adventure. Unlike the famous lake crossing from Puerto Varas to Bariloche at Paso Pérez Rosales further south, this trip is feasible for budget travelers. This route leads into the heart of Chile’s Siete Lagos region. Paso Hua Hum (659 m / 2,142 ft) may be done with public transportation or private car all year round.

The journey begins at the town of Panguipulli on the northwest corner of Lago Panguipulli. The road is paved as far as Neltume and is unpaved for the last 8 kilometers (4.8 mi) to Puerto Fuy on the north shore of Lago Pirehueico (bus: Buses Lafit Monday-Saturday 10 a.m., making connections with the ferry; also Monday-Saturday 5 departures 11:45 a.m.-4:30 p.m., Sunday 6:30 p.m., 7:30 p.m., $5, 2 hours). The bus from Puerto Fuy to Panguipulli leaves at 6 a.m., 7 a.m. and 4 p.m.

The Tranbordador Hua Hum ferry leaves Puerto Fuy for Puerto Pirehueico (12:30 p.m.; foot passenger $3, bicycle $6, motorcycle $8, vehicle $30-40 plus insurance; 1.5 hours), from where it is 11 kilometers by gravel road to Paso Huahum (possible bus from Argentina or hitch). From the border, it is 34 kilometers to San MartĂ­n de los Andes, by way of Ruta Provincial 48. Reservations are not needed during the low season. December 15-March 15 ferries run twice daily; reservations are required (Tel.: 063-31-0435 / 31-0436, E-mail:, URL:

Buses Lafit (Tel.: 063-31-1647) also has a direct bus from Panguipulli to San Martín de los Andes (Saturday 10 a.m., $24). From San Martín, Lafit’s direct service leaves on Sunday. In summer this company also operates a ferry across Lago Panguipulli.

There is lodging in Puerto Fuy.

Paso Cardenal Antonio Samoré

Paso Cardenal Samoré (1,308 m / 4,251 ft) is the most transited border crossing from Chile to Bariloche, Argentina. The trip begins in Osorno, where the paved Ruta CH-215 passes through Parque Nacional Puyehue to Aduana Pajaritos, the Chilean border post located four kilometers (2.4 mi) past the Sector Anticura ranger station. From there it is 22 kilometers (13.5 mi) to the actual border. After crossing into Argentina the highway becomes Ruta Nacional 231. It is 43 kilometers (26 mi) to Villa Angostura, the Argentine post located in the midst of Parque Nacional Nahuel Huapi. It is then 70 kilometers (42 mi) to Bariloche. Another route goes north to San Martín de los Andes. Both border posts are open 8 a.m.-9 p.m. local time. At the Argentina complex is a casa de cambio that exchanges only Argentine and Chilean pesos.

Lodging and camping are available in Parque Nacional Puyehue (Anticura and Aguas Calientes Sectors) and in Entre Lagos on Lago Puyehue.

Paso PĂ©rez Rosales

A dream for many is to sail in a catamaran across Lago Todos los Santos's crystalline waters edged with evergreen forests and sky-scraping volcanoes, through Parque Nacional Vicente PĂ©rez Rosales, on to Argentina's Parque Nacional Nahuel Pan and finishing up in Bariloche. This is the only way to cross from Chile to Argentina at Paso PĂ©rez Rosales. Andina del Sud is the sole provider of this service (Monday-Friday 9 a.m.-7 p.m., Saturday 9 a.m.-1 p.m. Varas 437, Puerto Montt, Tel.: 065-25-7797, E-mail:, URL:

The journey involves three boats and a trio of buses. It commences in Puerto Montt or Puerto Varas, from which tourists can travel by bus to Petrohué (76 km / 46 mi, 2 hours, altitude: 150 m / 488 ft). Here you will find the main ranger station of Parque Nacional Vicente Pérez Rosales, at the foot of Volcán Osorno. A catamaran then sails across Lago Todos los Santos to Puella (1.4 hours, altitude: 150 m / 448 ft). Passengers lunch before boarding a bus to Puerto Frías (27 km / 16.5 mi, 2 hours, altitude: 976 m / 3,172 ft). On the way, they go through immigration procedures at Paso Pérez Rosales.

From Puerto Frías, a ship shuttles tourists across Lago Frías to Puerto Alegre (four nautical miles, 20 min, altitude: 762 m / 2,477 ft). A short bus ride to Puerto Blest is the next leg of the journey (three km / 1.8 mi, 15 minutes, altitude: 756 m / 2,457 ft), from where a catamaran traverses Lago Nahuel Huapi to Puerto Pañuelo (15 nautical miles, 1.05 hours, altitude: 756 m / 2,457 ft). The last part of the trip, into Bariloche, is done by bus (25 km / 15 mi, 30 min, altitude: 760 m / 2,470 ft).

In the fall and winter only tours of at least two days are offered. Guests stay at one of the two lodges in Puella: Hotel Puella or Hotel Natura. The least expensive rooms cost $150. There are no campsites. During the spring and summer months, travelers can choose to do the journey in one day, or to overnight in Puella. In any season, trips leave everyday (except January 1 and December 25), at 7:30 a.m. One day expeditions arrive in Bariloche at 8:30-9 p.m.; two-day excursions at about 7 p.m. The fare from Puerto Montt to Bariloche is $170. In January and February, the price is $230. Prices do not include meals or hotels.

For more information, see,, or Book with Andina del Sud in Puerto Montt. Many travel agencies inside and outside of Chile also make reservations.

Paso Vuriloche

Die-hard adventurers have a challenge awaiting them in the southern Lakes District: Trekking through Parque Nacional Vicente PĂ©rez Rosales to Paso Vuriloche, the route that had been used by Spanish missionaries. This 40-kilometer (24 mi) track is difficult. On horse, the journey lasts five days and can be done only in January and February. Club Andino maintains a refuge along the way. For more information, see:

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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