Beneath the Volcanoes

The southern Lakes Region will surprise you

Chile’s southern lake region is the gateway to Patagonia. It is a very special zone, because around 1850 German settlers began to settle down in this once inaccessible wilderness. Many were disappointed by the German revolution of 1848 and attracted by promises made by the Chilean government. Hundreds of artisan and peasant families came to the region to seek a better life. Their traces are still present everywhere today. At the same time, here you will find some of the most pristine and beautiful landscapes of Chile. The region is also famous for its delicious food - try exquisite salmon, seafood, grilled and sweet dishes, only to name a few. With your own rental car you are flexible to discover all the amazing attractions of this picturesque and wild land - an unforgettable experience! Well planned with the right partner, a rental car trip to Southern Chile is safe and uncomplicated.

Our sample itinerary offers a good balance between cultural experiences and natural highlights, relaxation and adventure, there is an experience for every taste. Depending on your interests, you can change the focus and create either a more active or a more easy-going trip. It’s best to plan your trip in Chile with your own rental vehicle in stages and to cover the long distances with domestic flights.

First, a few tips on trips with a rental car to Southern Chile:

This region is beautiful and green, because it rains a lot. You should definitely expect some rainy days, even in summer. However, when the sun shines, the radiation is quite high, even if the temperatures are not, so one might be tempted to seek the sun.

So, in addition to rain gear, you should always have sunscreen in your equipment. With your own rental car, you are flexible and can adapt to weather.

Some roads are remote gravel roads where you rarely see other vehicles. There may be poor cell phone reception, so in case of a breakdown you should be well prepared. Remote roads are made of gravel, sand or stones, so we recommend careful driving. Keep in mind that, on gravel roads you can only go about half as fast as on asphalt.

Our sample itinerary only includes two base stations, Puerto Varas and Castro. We recommend exploring the region from there via day trips, so there is no need for packing bags daily.

The accommodations in Puerto Varas and Castro range from simple hostels and holiday homes to extravagant luxury hotels and boutique hotels. There is something for every budget and every need.

There are wild pumas living in the area. However, they generally avoid people. In case you should encounter one, please stay calm and create the impression to be a very large animal by staying close together and holding your backpacks over your head.

Sample Itinerary for a Rental Car Trip to the Southern Chilean Lakes Region

  • Day 1

  • Day 2

  • Day 3

  • Day 4

  • Day 5

  • Day 6

  • Day 7

Puerto Montt - Puerto Varas

Pick up your rental car at the airport in Puerto Montt. From Puerto Montt Airport, follow the signs to Puerto Varas. Before you reach Ruta 5, take a detour to the “Monumento Natural Lahuen Ñadi”. There you can see how the landscape in the whole region looked like before the German colonization around 1850. Due to excessive forest clearance, these wonderful Alerce forests exist today only in protected areas such as national parks - fortunately, there are quite many of them.

After the walk of about an hour at Lahuen Ñadi, drive to Puerto Varas. Spend the rest of the day exploring this pretty town at the shore of Lago Llanquihue and try your first local delicacies.

Overnight stay in Puerto Varas. Distance covered: about 35 km on asphalt.

There is a wide range of excellent gastronomy in Puerto Varas, some with lake views. The offer ranges from grill restaurants to fish specialties, great cafes, international cuisine and locally inspired burger and pizza adaptations, among others. For fish lovers, we recommend the restaurant “La Olla” (expect waiting times) with a large selection of local specialties and generous portions.