The so-called "city of roses" was created to give home to the German settlers who settled on the shores of Lake Llanquihue between 1852 and 1853, plan through the government of the time sought to incorporate uninhabited territories of the southern zone to the rest of the country.
Due to its proximity to the sea, it has a rainy oceanic climate in which rainfall occurs throughout the year accompanied by winds from the north and northwest. Although in winter there are more rainy days, those of spring are more intense and violent, however these are of shorter duration than the winter ones. It is common for the vegetation line to also be the snow line in winter, which is why winter precipitation is usually liquid or in the form of hailstorms, but snow fall below a thousand meters of altitude is very uncommon. Summers used to be mild, with maximums rarely exceeding 30°C and rainfall in summer months was nothing new. However, in recent years temperatures close to 35 ° C can sometimes occur, and rainfall in January and February is much scarcer.
Lake Llanquihue, the second largest in the country, and together with the Osorno and Calbuco volcanoes define the landscape from the city. Both volcanoes are displaced to the west of the Andes mountain range, close to the sea, which adds particularities to each of them. The sector of La Picada, north of the Osorno volcano was the area in which mountain activity was developed during the first half of the twentieth century. A series of shelters gave life to what is now known as "the path of desolation", but also to skiing and hiking. Hand in hand with the exploration of the forests, logging was developed, and with it the deforestation product of the excessive felling of larch trees, those that gave life to the wooden tiles that are today part of the architectural heritage of the lake basin. It is in those same forests that the first national park of Chile was created in 1926, and with it the protection of flora and fauna, and important ecosystems that have allowed the development of this tourist destination in the region of Losa Lagos, thanks also to the ancient trade route used by different Mapuche peoples of Chile and Argentina, which was converted into an important route for the economy between San Carlos de Bariloche and Puerto Varas during the first decades of the time of German colonization. Navigating the lakes Llanquihue and Todos Los Santos, various goods were collected from the ports of settlers and inhabitants to be marketed in their different destinations. Thus the town of Ensenada connected by land with the port of Petrohue, to continue traveling to Peulla and from this point cross to the neighboring country. It is the route that today is known as the "crossing of lakes" and that by the year 1913 with what is considered the creation of the first tourism company in Chile (Andina del Sud) marks the tourist seal of Puerto Varas.
Less than twenty minutes by car from Puerto Montt airport (PMC) or a night trip of less than 12 hours on a bus from Santiago, Puerto Varas is a small city with a wide range of accommodation, restaurants and other tourist services. A city that can be explored on foot, but to enjoy its main attractions and activities it is necessary to move towards the sea or the mountain range. Trips that do not require more than an hour of transport, but that in the middle of the summer season can be delayed in hours and days of high demand. But it also has a wide range of services in its surroundings. A mountain refuge in the middle of the Osorno volcano, the Teski Refuge, or an endless number of cabins and lodgings around Lake Llanquihue. A lake that can be traveled almost entirely by bicycle and that from Ensenada allows you to connect with the Carretera Austral, following the course of the river and the Petrohué Falls in the direction of the Ralún hot springs and the first fjord of Patagonia.
Trekking in Vicente Pérez Rosales National Park
Despite its 253,780 hectares of surface there are not many trails with infrastructure that we find inside. But there are four sectors of great accessibility in the surroundings of the Osorno volcano less than an hour's drive from Puerto Varas.
Osorno Volcano. One of the most popular sectors due to its excellent vehicular road, which allows you to reach without great difficulty up to 1,100 meters of altitude. Here we find the path that reaches the glacier of the volcano; the trails that run through the red crater sector in the ski center and the interpretive trail in the forest of the Teski Refuge. You can also walk in the Laguna Verde sector and the "Solitary Trail".
La Picada. The northern sector of the volcano is the beginning of the trekking of desolation, and trekking on the slopes of Cerro la Picada. Both trails stand out for their views, both the volcano and also the lakes and the flora and fauna with an air of Patagonia.
Petrohue. Where the path of Desolation ends (or begins), but also hides other trekking routes in the national park, such as the path of "Los Alerces" that allows us to access the beautiful beach of Lake Todos Los Santos known as "La Poza" or "El Rincón del Osorno"; the trail to the Mirador de La Picada is also a good target. Some less common trails take us to the araucarias that are in this sector and the upper part of the waterfall.
El Callao. This is undoubtedly one of the most interesting trekking trails in the park. A route that connects Lake Todos Los Santos with Lake Rupanco, and that perfectly combines country life with the latest nature. Normally this route is covered in three days, but it is possible to extend it either by making the ascent to a hill, enjoying the families that live here or connecting with other trails to make a larger journey.
Skiing on the Osorno volcano
There are only two sections of lift, eleven tracks and about five possible kilometers to travel on prepared slopes, but it is its proximity to Puerto Varas, the cozy Refuge, the views during the ascent and descent that make piste skiing in Puerto Varas a must-see to experience in winter season. Major words are off-piste and mountain skiing. Randonnée skiing on the Osorno volcano is a classic ascent; and the descent of the thousand meters by its north face an unmissable activity to be carried out together with that of the Llaima volcano, in the neighboring region of Araucanía. The descent by the normal route, on the west face, if conditions permit, will transport us from the summit, to the hidden valley, and from here directly to the terrace of the Teski refuge to enjoy the best sunset in southern Chile.