Puerto Varas is the gateway for sights such as Volcán Osorno and Lago Todos los Santos, in Parque Nacional Vicente Pérez Rosales, and the Cochamó backcountry. Varas is also the staging point for adventure activities such as white-water rafting, hiking, climbing, mountain biking, horseback riding, and fishing. Paved Ruta 225 follows the lakeshore east to Ensenada; at a fork two kilometers farther east, the main road goes northwest to Petrohué, while another paved route heads southeast to Ralún, Cochamó, and Puelo.
Conventional travel agencies include Andina del Sud (Del Salvador 72, tel./fax 065/232811, www.andinadelsud.cl) and TravelSur (San Pedro 451, tel./fax 065/236000, www.travelsur.cl). For activities-oriented operators, try Alsur (Del Salvador 100, tel. 065/232300, www.alsurexpeditions.cl) or Aqua Motion (San Francisco 328, tel. 065/232747, www.aqua-motion.com).
Most of adventure-travel agencies rent mountain bikes and other outdoor-sports equipment. Just north of the pier, Canoas Tour (Av. Costanera s/n, tel. 065/233587) rents kayaks for lake use, but KoKayak (Ruta 225, Km 40, tel. 065/346433, www.kokayak.com) organizes more ambitious kayak trips.
© Wayne Bernhardson from Moon Chile, 2nd edition