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Insider secret! The best lake route in Chile!

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There is simply something about lakes that is hard to translate into words. We all know that water is a good energy conductor, allowing negative energies to flow out of our bodies, lose themselves to the elements and revitalize us in the process. I feel grateful when I stand near a huge body of water such as the wonderful lakes we have here in southern Chile. I am reminded how lucky we are to have such vast quantities of fresh water to rely on if our taps were to ever run dry, and that feeling is magnified when I take in the lush mountains that surround those lakes, often clad by mist, allowing the world to stop, even if just for a moment, while we contemplate the raw beauty of the nature that surrounds us.

So, where in the world can you begin a self-drive, a long bike ride, or a local bus hopping experience, that affords you unforgettable vistas and volcanic sand beach wanders mixed with a bit of canoeing or even just a simple fishing boat ride, in silence and in nature? Southern Chile of course!

The Ruta InterLagos (Linked Lake Route) is a stroke of genius, as well as pretty impressive intra-regional administrative coordination! Created over the last three years the paved route connects the regions of the Araucanía, Los Ríos, and Los Lagos in southern Chile. For those of you who have the tourist guidebook to hand, that means an area spanning from roughly Pucón to Puerto Montt. 1.920 km of roads now proudly link 22 lakes and benefit a population of around 500.000 people living in 21 communities in this central southern area of the country.

Mapa red interlagos


The complete route has been created using 6 independent circuits meaning you can go as far as you like for however long you choose. It can be a day trip out from the tourist hub of Pucón, or a 3 to 7 day overland journey ending in Puerto Montt full of viewpoints, photo opportunities, picnics and overnight stays. With one longitudinal axis, 12 transversal axes and 9 complimentary roads, the route may seem complicated at first glance. However, the ability to pick and choose according to time, budget and interests adds an incredible plus to the current tourist offer in our corner of the world.

Take a look at some of these views and I guarantee you will want to add extra time to your Chile itinerary just so you can lose yourself on the back roads and remember what it's like to be off the beaten track.

Lago 1

Lake VillarricaLake Llanquihue

lake pirihueicolago pirihueico

Of course lakes mean rain. Without the water falling from the sky the lakes would have dried up centuries ago. According to the Köppen climatic classification, our area here in southern Chile is defined as "temperate oceanic". I think that sounds great. It makes me think of sea breezes, warm to the face with refreshing intermittent showers. The textbook definition says that rainfall is "adequate and reliable", which is a lovely poetic way of saying that is can rain cats and dogs for days on end. True, but without it the lush dense forests reminiscent of Jurassic Park, and deep vast lakes lost to view by surface mists, would simply not exist.

If you know this, and come prepared with the right gear and mindset, you will almost feel deceived if you make it to Puerto Montt from Pucón without donning your new Goretex waterproofs. This was actually a complaint I received during my years of tour leading in southern Chile! The truth is you just never know.

Given that our area does experience some extremely high temperatures bereft of rainfall during the summer months, it can be argued that we fall into the Mediterranean climate category, but who cares. There are so many thermal hot spring options en route that come rain or shine, you will be happy by the vastness and the peace.

Below is the full, seemingly endless list of national parks, lakes and Andean border crossings that provoked the creation of this Ruta InterLagos. My plea to you is to add on additional time from your plan to see the already über photographed Atacama desert, Torres del Paine and Easter Island, to come spend some time here, in virgin territory, where your friends back home will marvel at your Facebook images and wish they too had come along for the ride!
Start your trip hanging out with a beer with your friends here at Sol y Nieve, and complete the off the beaten track route with the penguins in Chiloé Island. I personally guarantee you will not go home disappointed!

Andean Araucanía Circuit - Main attractions are:

  • National Park Tolhuaca
  • National Park Malalcahuello
  • National Park Conguillio
  • National Reserve China Muerta
  • National Reserve alto Biobío
  • Lake Icalma
  • International Border Crossing Pino Hachado

Lake Araucanía Circuit - Main towns are Pucón & Villarrica.

  • Lake Conguillio
  • Lake Villarrica
  • Lake Caburga
  • National Park Huelquehue
  • National Reserve Villarrica
  • International Border Crossing Mamuil-Malal

7 Lakes Circuit - Main town is Panguipulli.

  • Lake Panguipulli
  • Lake Pirihueico
  • Lake Riñihue
  • National Reserve Mocho Choshuenco
  • International Border Crossings Carirriñe & Hua –Hum

Lake Ranco Circuit - Main town is Futrono.

  • Lake Ranco
  • Lake Maihue

Northern Patagonia Circuit - Main town is Entrelagos:

  • Lake Puyehue
  • Lake Rupanco
  • National Park Puyehue
  • International Border Crossing Cardenal Samoré

Lake Llanquihue Circuit - Main town are Puerto Varas, Frutillar & Puerto Octay.

  • Lake Llanquihue
  • Lake Todos los Santos
  • Lake Tagua Tagua
  • National Park Vicente Pérez Rosales
  • National Reserve Llanquihue
  • International Border Crossing Pérez Rosales


©Sarah White 2014      Author’s rights reserved


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Guest Wednesday, 18 October 2017