Best of Sur Chico
Sector Conguillío: The fame of the monkey-puzzle tree was such that, nearly a century ago, the famous conservationist John Muir went far out of his way to visit the part of Parque Nacional Conguillío that now protects much of southern South America’s endemic araucaria forests.
Volcán Villarrica: Every summer, hundreds of hikers slog up the snow-covered slopes of Chile’s most active volcano, in its namesake national park immediately south of Pucón, for the views and the thrills.
Sendero Lago Verde: Just northwest of Pucón, Parque Nacional Huerquehue is the place for shaded woodland hikes alongside rushing streams over ruggedly scenic terrain.
Termas de Puyehue: On the edge of Parque Nacional Puyehue, the lake district’s most venerable grand hotel has updated its facilities without disregarding its traditions.
Anticura: Its remaining forests resemble the rainforest woodlands north and south of it, but Parque Nacional Puyehue’s most impressive sight is the barren high country wrought by the lava flows and ash from the 1960 eruption of its namesake volcano.
Puerto Varas Historic District: On Lago Llanquihue’s western shore, studded with shingled houses that recall the Middle European origins of its first settlers, Puerto Varas has the Sur Chico’s finest services and restaurants, making it the ideal gateway to the bus-boat crossing to the Argentine lake district city of Bariloche.
Sector Volcán Osorno: On the eastern shore of Lago Llanquihue, in Parque Nacional Vicente Pérez Rosales, Osorno is a beacon of Fuji-like perfection. Ski facilities have recently been upgraded, but it’s also a summer favorite for climbers and hikers.
Parque Nacional Chiloé: Only on Chiloé’s wild west coast can hikers traipse through dense dwarf woodlands where, according to legend, the troll-like Trauco awaits the unwary.
© Wayne Bernhardson from Moon Chile, 2nd edition