The city of Puerto Montt stands out on the map as it dwarfs the little town of Puerto Varas. However as you proceed through Chile you will hear time and time again from other travellers that Puerto Varas is the best location to make base camp and explore the surrounding areas. The authentic little village sits lakeside at the bottom of two hills, and is a quiet little hub you will be happy to return to after spending the daylight hours doing these activities.
Todos Los Santos Lake
All the Saints have combined to give you this giant beauty of a lake just about an hour around the corner from Puerto Varas. The lake on which Puerto Varas sits has multiple villages and towns that surround it, but Todos Los Santos just up the road is much more natural in its beauty, with essentially no civilization in sight other than some amenities at the end of the access road so you can peer out towards mountains upon mountains that look like they have been layered by an artist.
From almost anywhere in Puerto Varas with a view over the lake, Osorno Volcano will be making an appearance in the background, and although the town to the north shares the same name as the volcano, the main and closest access point is through Puerto Varas. You can head out and make your own way up the mountain from multiple angles, and being nestled between both lake Llanquihue and Todos Los Santos, you will get a jaw dropping view from the summit.
Not as famous, and not as visible from Puerto Varas, the Calbuco volcano is not ready to be overshadowed or outdone by Osorno, even if it’s not as grand in elevation as its neighbour. This volcano offers more greenery during both your ascent and descent in comparison to the rocky Osorno, and also offers a tremendous panoramic view from the summit, even if you are a few hundred metres lower.
As mentioned, the city of Puerto Montt may be what jumps out to you as the sensible option for accommodation, but the village of Puerto Varas is probably a more aesthetically pleasing option. However, Puerto Montt is perfect to visit for the day. Walk along the ocean as you look out at the enormous inlet and Isla Tenglo, take in some history at one of the museums, or equip yourself for Patagonia with some good hiking boots, soft socks, and more at the many markets in town.
On your way out to Todos Los Santos Lake, and before you arrive at the actual town of Petrohue, you will pass by the Petrohue Falls, which are very easily accessible right off the side of the road, and provide a view so stunning, with the tumbling waterfalls in the foreground and snow capped volcano in the background, that it genuinely looks Photoshopped.
Vicente Perez Rosales National Park
One of the reasons that Todos Los Santos Lake and the surrounding nature is so pristine and has not been tainted with civilisation, is because much of it is inside the Vicente Perez Rosales National Park. This park covers an area of over 2,500 square kilometres, which is almost completely located within the Andes Mountain chain making the incredibly diverse scenery the very definition of breathtaking.
Senda Nativa Romahue
With so many attractions in the Puerto Varas area to the east of the town, it may feel weird heading west towards the coast, but if you do you can see some of the most interesting wildlife very unique to Chile, like the Tricahue parrots, and Pudues, which are the smallest deer in the world. The list of activities continues with horseback riding, fly fishing, and even troll in a tin boat through what is named The Sunken Forest, a dense mangrove portion of the Maullín River and home to immense biodiversity.
If your joints and muscles are knackered from exploring the more demanding trails of the National Park but you want to get back in motion, then take your time to stroll the relatively even ground and well-manicured trails and paths around the Green Lagoon. Just north of Ensenada, a tiny town north east of Puerto Varas, you will find the trails and walkways that lead around the, you guessed it, Green Lagoon, with other options to continue on a little farther if you have started to heat up and want to keep moving.