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The Chilean Lake District

January 3, 2013

Maybe it’s the name but the Lake District in the UK is known for its perpetually wet weather and we found similar conditions in the Lake District in Chile. The lakes here are surrounded by beautiful snow-capped volcanoes but we were only teased with occasional glimpses of the snowline.

Waterfalls at Salta de Petrohue

However the Lake District is very beautiful even in the rain and we managed to enjoy ourselves regardless.

Pool at Termas Geometricas

Our first stop was 17km up a narrow dirt road from Conaripe at what are considered to be the nicest Thermals in the area, Termas Geometrica, and we were definitely impressed. Unfortunately they wouldn’t let us camp in the car park but we managed to have two good soaking sessions. The pools are on either side of a narrow valley with a waterfall at its head. There are 17 pools in total all bounded by the sheer cliff walls of the valley, slate floors and red wooden walkways giving the place a real Asian flavour.

Walkway and pool at Termas geometricas

After we’d finished soaking which was heaven sent in the cold rainy conditions we drove back down the dirt road to Conaripe where we found a place to camp right on the shore of Lago Calafquen.

Camping Conaripe

With no change in  the weather the next day we decided to head South looking for improvement and drove to Entre Lagos which is on the banks of Lago Puyehue. On the way we visited Panguipulli to see its unusual church.

Church at Panguipulli

The weather in Entre Lagos was still bad though so we again found a lake side camping spot and spent the night.

Entre Lagos Camping

Continuing to push south on scenic gravel roads, well they would be if the cloud level wasn’t about 100m, we arrived at Puerto Octay, a pretty village (apparently surrounded by 3 volcanos of which we saw none) founded by Germans in the mid 1800’s and situated on the banks of Lago Llanquihue.

Puerto Octay Church

After a few nights free camping we decided we wanted a touch of luxury and checked into a really lovely campground where we could park on a concrete pad (necessary with the pouring rain) right on the lake.

House in Puerto Octay

The rain continued to pound down but interspersed with short sunny breaks in which we managed to explore the town.

Puetro Octay Rainbow

Still no improvement in the on/off rain so we again drove South around the eastern side of Llanguihue Lake to Ensenada. The road was entirely paved, a nice surprise as our 2012 map had it as mostly gravel, so we made good time.

Salto de Pertrohue

We first visited the Saltos de Petrohue which are some short but immensely powerful waterfalls on the massive fast-flowing river between Lagos Todos Los Santos and Lago Llanquihue.

Boat at Petruhue Falls

We then drove 5kms further on a badly pot-holed gravel road to the shores of Lago Todos Los Santos (All Saints Lake), considered to be one of the most beautiful lakes in the District.

River and Mountain

The campground where we stayed in Ensenada had two sites right on beach, down a 4×4 track that we just managed to fit down having to squeeze between some trees, but it was definitely worth it.

Ensdenada View 2

The place was so gorgeous, despite the weather, that we decided to stay two nights and enjoy the location. The campsite is right in the shadow of a snow-capped Volcano but unfortunately we never saw it !

Enseneda View

Our last stop in the Lake District was at Puerto Varas which is the biggest town in the area. However it was very busy and difficult to find parking. We did manage to wander round for an hour or two but didn’t see anything that would make us want to stay so decided to continue on our way. There is a very unusual church however !

Puerto Varas Church

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