Before Chilean territory officially becomes the mythical land of Patagonia lies the beautiful Lake District. This 600m long sliver of mountainous terrain at the foothills of the Andes boasts numerous lakes that are laid out in a line heading south between the mountain range and the sea. This area of Chile astounds visitors with its snow-capped volcanic peaks, forest-rimmed lakes, and rustic charm, as well as the wealth of adventure sports and outdoor activities that can be enjoyed in the region. The Chilean Lake District lies in Chile Zona Sur, an area which stretches between Temuco in the north and Puerto Montt in the south. The region itself is called Sur Chico, or Little South, by locals, and is the gateway to Patagonia, with natives fiercely proud of their identity as the gateway to the famous Patagonian wilderness, including Torres del Paine National Park. This area attracts visitors who value a slower, more relaxed pace of discovery, where the lakes and their surroundings can be explored independently, away from the crowds and tourist traps of southern Patagonia, to give you that desired feeling of pure isolation in nature.
Given its proximity to Patagonia, the Chilean Lake District shares many climatic qualities with this region. The weather in Patagonia can often be unpredictable, raining one moment and sunny the next. Depending at what elevation and where you are regarding the terrain, the weather can also vary a lot, so make sure you bring adequate clothing for rain, sun, heat, cold and even snow. Spring and summer are the driest seasons, and it is best to visit between November and April. It can get severely cold between May and October, and these are also the wettest months. Given the precarious climate, there is often flooding in the region, so this may affect your travel plans.
The easiest way to access the Chilean Lake District is to fly to Puerto Montt, which is serviced by flights from Santiago or Punta Arenas. If you are coming from neighboring Argentina, you will likely cross near Bariloche and can reach the border either by car or by bus. All internal and regional flights will be arranged for you as part of your itinerary, but speak to our travel experts if you would like to rent a car to explore the lake district independently. Alternatively, we can organize private transfers or transport for you during your stay.
There are lots of high-end resorts and hotels to stay in in the Lake District, as well as private cabins that offer a more rustic and authentic experience. As many of the highlights are spread out, they are accessed by road, but the infrastructure in the area is highly developed. This area has long been home to the Mapuche Indians, and you will find lots of their handicrafts for sale in the small markets and boutique shops that are dotted around the little villages. Food lovers will rejoice in the many delicious fish options that are available in this area, as well as hearty stews and the activity of taking high tea in the afternoon. Keep an eye out for the many German bakeries that proliferate in this area, given its heritage as a region of German immigration and settlement.