Here we are going to review the 5 most popular excursions done by most the agencies in Puerto Varas , this could be very useful , specially if you don’t have much time there…Here we go..
1. Saltos del Petrohue , Todos los Saltos Lake ( Petrohue rapids and All saints Lake)
Is located about 65 kilometres (41 miles) from Puerto Varas, good condition road, last 6 kilometres (4 miles ) is a dirt roard not very good, there is one gas station in Ensenada but we recommend you fill your tank in Puerto Varas , Now this tour is very interesting , because you will see a curious basaltic formation rocks, formed by pyroclastic explosions of Osorno Volcano thousands years ago, where the petrohue river “jump” over , forming this famous rapids.
The Rapids are located within the national park Vicente Perez Rosales, so involve a ticket cost of $1200 Chilean pesos (updated June 2009). If you are thinking to take a tour there is a great option, request your travel agency include the Osorno Volcano in the prize. There is a public mini-bus to Petrohue every 30 minutes from downtown Puerto Varas , cost $ 2000 Chilean Pesos ( Updated June 2009 ) , its says ” PETROHUE” in the windshield and the bus stop is on Del Salvador Street next to Banco de Chile. (There are lot of restaurants along the route , we will review some of them soon)
2. Volcan Osorno Excursion
This Volcano is the symbol of the whole lakes district, is a perfect conic formation with a glacier on the top, there is a road that arrives till the ski centre up to almost 4000 feet which is open all year around, including in summer, due to, the chair lift is used either for skiers or for those who wants to appreciate the impressive vistas of the LLanquihue Lake (when is clear) the ticket cost around $ 15.000 Chilean Pesos. The ski centre counts with a nice cafeteria and a souvenir shop.
Try to take this excursion in a day without rain, otherwise, would be a waste of time, because most of the activities up there would be suspended, remember you go mainly for the vista or may be for a trek. Unless you are a skier, a day with rain or fog would be wasted. Call in advance to: 56-65-233445 ext. 601. Ask your agency to include, Petrohue rapids, on the cost, is perfectly doable both in one day.
3. Ancud and Puñihuil penguin Colony
This excursion is very recommendable from October till middle March, you got the best from the Island of Chiloe, plus a very interesting penguin colony where you can find 2 species, Magellan and Humboldt penguins, nesting practically together on volcanic rock islets very close from the beach, but anyway you have to rent a boat if you want to see something.
This excursion involves a ride of 2 ½ hours from Puerto Varas, for just 20 up to 25 minutes of penguins. The only way to do it, is driving towards Ancud then take the coastal road to Pumillahue (dirt road, not very good) and after 11 kilometres you will find the fishermen cove of Puñihuil. Once there, you have to make arrangements for take a boat ride to the islet, the fishermen is very organized, so, won’t be difficult to find a boat. Our recommendation is make previous arrangements with Katia cell : 99552417 (Spanish only).
Note from Alex: You have to consider the time you invest in this excursion, sometimes you have to wait up to 1 hour on high season (December to March) for boarding the ferry to the island , is a variable nobody can control. For Lunch we recommend, to taste the seafood empanadas in the same cove restaurant.
4.Frutillar Half Day Excursion
We really encourage to do this excursion in the afternoon, this town is very quite (too much some times), why in the afternoon? Because is really nice to appreciate the sunset here the location facing Llanquihue Lake is simply great! And you have better chances to find either shops or restaurants open either for lunch or tea.
Frutillar is located 25 Kilometres ( 16 miles) from Puerto Varas , around 30 minutes, About the activities here this is the town of music and high percentage of the original German settlers descendant still live here ,that’s why everything is centred around them. We recommend visiting the Colonial German Museum, just if you have a lot of time to spend, illustrating lifestyle of the second and third generation of the settlers around 1880 to 1920, this museum could be much better but it is not, much of the explanation is in Spanish, and there are no guides available inside unless you take your own, so, we prefer you spend your time appreciating the local architecture which is perfectly conserved in some cases, and the beautiful gardens.
You can also check the activities of “Teatro Del Lago “for your day visit. If you are in the mood of relaxing there is a hidden place which personally I love, in fact, I have to recognize I am a member, SPA SALZBURG, take your bathing suit and spend a delicious and relaxing afternoon, the Spa is located in front of the “Playa Maqui” and is open from Tuesday to Sunday from 10 am to 10 pm and it counts with a heated pool with hydro massage and 4 hot tubs for 8 people , if you like swimming, this is a good option , the daily pass cost $ 10.500 Chilean pesos with lunch included .
The icing of the cake would be to finish your visit, having the local tea time with delicious pastry at “The Lavender Tea House”, is one of my favourite places to have tea, facing the lake this house is surrounded by lavender plantations and is beautifully decorated, our recco thou, Take cash with you ….they don’t accept neither dollars nor credit cards.
5. Peulla with navigation on Todos los Santos Lake
This is a full day excursion and is done by the company which the owner of the hotel in Peulla and the catamaran , we recommend this excursion, just if you have the time and you have a good weather forecast , because is mainly scenic, usually includes the stop over the Saltos de Petrohue. , so if you already booked this excursion, don’t book the Petrohue one, would be more of the same.
Once in Peulla you don’t have much option for lunch , unless you take your own snack, the alternatives are in both of the hotels located there . The company who own this route have a few alternative activities in Peulla , we recommend the canopy adventure and try to avoid any optional tour which has the word “safari” on it.
This excursion involves 1 , 15 hours from Puerto Varas to Petrohue pier, plus 1,40 hour of navigation .