Pristine Beauty

Explore southern Chile from Temuco to Puerto Montt

This journey will take you from the land of the Mapuche near Temuco to Argentina and then back to the southern Chilean lake region near Puerto Montt, which is distinguished by German settlers. The area around Temuco is called “Araucanía” - thanks to the many araucaria trees that grow there in the altitudes. This area is the region with the highest indigenous population in Chile and the center of Mapuche culture in Chile. “Mapuche” means “people of the earth” (mapu = earth, che = human). Originally, the entire area between the “little north” of Chile and the Island of Chiloé was home to the Mapuche. Depending on the region, they lived either as farmers, fishermen or hunters and are also famous for being very skilled silversmiths and weavers. Today, many Mapuche communities are engaged in tourism.

Chile’s southern lake region is the gateway to Patagonia - and 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, you will find some of the most pristine and beautiful landscapes of Chile there. The region is also famous for its delicious food. With your own rental car, you are flexible to discover all the amazing attractions of beautiful southern Chile – a really unique experience! Well planned with the right partner, a rental car trip to Southern Chile is safe and uncomplicated.

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 and Argentina:

You should be prepared for some rainy days, even in summer. However, when the sun shines, the radiation is quite high, even if the temperatures are not. 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. Please be aware, that many 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.

There are many accommodations between Temuco and Puerto Montt, ranging from simple campsites, hostels, holiday homes and middle-class hotels to extravagant luxury hotels and boutique hotels. There is something for every budget and every need.

Be respectful! Although many Mapuche open their doors to tourists and explain their ceremonial items, instruments, clothing and rites to the travelers, many things remain sacred to them to this day. If you are offered to wear traditional clothing, play instruments or join the demonstration of a ritual, don‘t be shy! However, please do not just take or use instruments and other items and always ask kindly for permission before taking pictures of people.

There are wild pumas living in the area. However, they generally avoid people. In case you should encounter one, for instance in the Alerce Andino National Park, 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 from Temuco to Puerto Montt

  • Day 1

  • Day 2

  • Day 3

  • Day 4

  • Day 5

  • Day 6 + 7

  • Day 8

  • Day 9

  • Day 10

  • Day 11

  • Day 12

  • Day 13

Araucanía Airport/Temuco - Pucón

Pick up your rental car at the Araucanía airport near Temuco. Start your journey on Ruta 5 Sur towards Freire and then follow the signs to Villarrica and Pucón. Spend the rest of the day exploring the lovely tourist town of Pucón, dine at one of the many restaurants and relax on the beach of Lake Villarrica. It is also a good idea to drop by one of the many agencies and see the offer of guided excursions for the next few days.

Overnight stay in Pucón or surroundings. Distance covered: about 95 km on asphalt.