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South of the Biobío River, where Chile's Mediterranean climate gives way to a West Coast maritime regime, lush forests of conifers and hardwoods cover the lower slopes of snow-topped volcanic cones that rise above strings of finger lakes left by Pleistocene glaciers. Literary conservationist John Muir was one of the earliest American visitors to enjoy the monkey puzzle forests of what is now Conguillío National Park. On the shores of Lake Villarrica, the resort of Pucón is a hyperactive chaos in the summer peak, but its access to the hiking trails of Huerquehue and Villarrica national parks — beneath the smoldering summit of ...

South of the Biobío River, where Chile's Mediterranean climate gives way to a West Coast maritime regime, lush forests of conifers and hardwoods cover the lower slopes of snow-topped volcanic cones that rise above strings of finger lakes left by Pleistocene glaciers. Literary conservationist John Muir was one of the earliest American visitors to enjoy the monkey puzzle forests of what is now Conguillío National Park. On the shores of Lake Villarrica, the resort of Pucón is a hyperactive chaos in the summer peak, but its access to the hiking trails of Huerquehue and Villarrica national parks — beneath the smoldering summit of the Villarrica volcano — is unmatchable. On Lake Llanquihue, settled by 19th-century German colonists, Puerto Varas is a slice of Mitteleuropa that's the gateway to Lake Todos los Santos and Vicente Pérez Rosales National Park. Muir's friend Theodore Roosevelt made an early tourist crossing of Todos los Santos, to Argentina, on a South American excursion after his political career ended. Across the Chacao Channel, the archipelago of Chiloé is the cradle of Chilean folklore, home to a fascinating vernacular architecture, and site of a namesake national park on its wild Pacific shoreline.

Wayne Bernhardson
About the Expert

Wayne Bernhardson is the author of Moon Handbooks to Argentina, Buenos Aires (including coastal Uruguay), Chile (including Easter Island), and Patagonia (including the Falkland Islands).

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Wayne Bernhardson for Triporati

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Facts at a Glance

  • Location: Western Coast of South America
  • Language: Spanish
  • Currency: Chilean peso (CLP)
  • Research: Chiloe | Chiloe
  • Weather: Daylight | Rainfall
  • Current Time:

Climate

  • Best Time to Visit:

    October to April