The Chilean Lake District is one of the most beautiful parts of Chile, its landscape of mountains, lakes, snow capped volcanoes, rainforests and white water rivers makes the lake district an idyllic yet wild place. Such stunning topography provides an unrivalled venue for walking, mountain biking and horse riding in the beautiful national parks.
There are also dozens of natural hot springs in the region, the waters are rich in many minerals and renowned for their curative properties. A relaxing soak in hot spring water is also a great way to recover after a day in the saddle or a long trek.
Puerto Varas is only 16 miles from Puerto Montt airport, the main point of arrival in the Chilean Lake District. It is a picturesque town that has grown in recent years as a result of tourism and it now boasts several excellent hotels, some of which have prime locations on the shore of Lake Llanquehue with fantastic views across to the impressive snowy cone of the the Osorno volcano. Just north of town is the lovely village of Frutillar which has a sleepier feel and some good guest house accommodation.
Puerto Varas is within easy reach of three national parks: Vicente Perez Rosales, Llanquehue and Alerce Andino all of which show off the lakes district's scenery and offer great opportunity for outdoor activities.
Huilo Huilo is a UNESCO Biosphere Reserve situated approximately 2 hours drive inland from the city of Valdivia. It was awarded Biospere status in 2007 in recognition of the need to protect the biodiversity and endemic species within its 100,000 hectars of temperate rain forest. The reserve is very unusual in that its remoteness and poor road access are in contrast with very good infrastructure and accommodation within the reserve. There are a great many activities can can be arranged including trekking, mountian biking, bird-watching and even snow boarding.
There are good road connections between the towns on either side of the border in the Lake District making it a convenient place to cross to Argentina from Chile or visa versa if you plan to visit both countries. It is possible to make the crossing by a combination of road and boat from Puerto Varas to Bariloche, via the lakes Todos los Santos and Nahuel Huapi. There are also less known lake crossings on smaller lakes in the northern lake district.