An Ancient Land
It’s easy to spend weeks navigating Chile’s Lake District. It’s a vast region with an almost uncountable number of awe-inspiring natural wonders. Amidst ancient forests you’ll find snow-capped peaks, hot springs, thundering rivers and the crystal clear lakes that give the region its name. The region is precious to the Mapuche people, many of whom still live here – and opportunities to get to know their distinct customs abound. In contrast you’ll also find a more surprising Black Forest feel in parts, thanks to an influx of German immigrants who settled in places such as atmospheric Puerto Varas.
The region is a patchwork of national parks, including Vincente Perez Rosales National Park (where top draws include All Saints Lake and the thrilling Petrohue falls), Parque Nacional Puyehue (home to hot springs), and Parque Nacional Villarrica (site of the grand Lake Villarrica). The many active and dormant volcanoes (Osorno and Villarrica to name just two) towering over the lakes and forests are one of the Lake District’s defining images. It’s possible to scale many of these peaks and even ski their steaming slopes. Whether you prefer to be on a horse or in a kayak, outdoor enthusiasts will find very few reasons to ever head back indoors.
Proudly independent, the archipelago of Chiloé – a string of 30 islands in Chile’s south – looks and feels different to the mainland. The architecture of its famous stilt houses, found on Chelin and Mechuque, are distinct, as is the cuisine, with generous helpings of potatoes common. Most of the world’s potato types are actually said to have originated on the islands.
Folklore and Crafts
Don’t miss a visit to Ancud’s produce market to see an incredible haul of seafood and Castro, the island’s main town, to learn about Chiloe’s famous folklore and crafts at the artisan markets.