Lakes, Volcanoes & Chiloé

While not quite as wild as Chilean Patagonia to the south, this is still arguably the most visually beautiful area of the country, and a perfect place for your Condor Camper road trip. Snow capped volcanoes make the perfect backdrop against vibrant blue lakes and endless miles of virgin and ancient forest. Home to the indigenous Mapuche community you’ll be able to experience their cultures, learn about their handicrafts and discover a world only possible with your own set of wheels. With endless hiking, kayaking, biking, relaxing and even volcano climbing there’s something in this area for everyone. Make it over to Isla Grande de Chiloé and you’ll be rewarded with mystery, UNESCO listed wooden churches, heaps of penguins and the wonderful Chilean dish ‘Curanto’.

Lakes Road Trip 

Start with a few nights in the happening capital, Santiago. Stroll around the historic centre, soak up some heritage in the many fantastic museums, break for a lively seafood lunch in the Mercado Central and spend the afternoon gazing over Santiago from the summit of Cerro San Cristobal. If you’ve got any energy left, be sure to visit the bohemian neighbourhood of Bellavista where you can dine, drink and dance until the early hours.

Starting early, we’ll deliver your Condor Camper directly to your hotel at no additional cost. Before driving off, stock up on cheaper essentials in the city and join the historic Pan-American Highway 5 south to escape in to the unknown. Those with plenty of time may wish to stop at the Parque Nacional Radal Siete Tazas, only 100km south of Santiago, this is a great place for camping, hiking, swimming or climbing. Chile’s best-known wine region Colchagua Valley also makes the perfect stop en route, only 170km from Santiago. Here you can learn and indulge in one of Chile’s most famous, (and delicious), exports – big bodied, excellent value red wines. Buy some to take with you and enjoy on your picnics!

Continue on Route 5 south, taking advantage of your own wheels to stop at roadside markets, little cafes, unknown riversides, local festivals and generally enjoying the freedom you get with your very own campervan.  A worthy stop is the off the beaten track Parque Nacional Laguna del Laja, where there are excellent hiking options as well as your very first glimpse of one of the many snow-capped volcanoes of the region.

Home to the towering Volcán Llaima, one of the largest and most active volcanoes in Chile, Parque Nacional Conguillo is one of our favourite little spots and should not be missed! Entering from the north you can drive your camper in the national park passing through a lava desert before parking up for the night in the Conaf camping area next to the Laguna, immediately under the grand volcano itself. After completing some excellent circular hikes, continue driving south through the park passing the beautiful native Araucaria trees that fill the forest and give the region its name before exiting at the south of the park on the edge of the Lake District.

Next stop is the year round adventure playground for adrenaline junkies Pucón. Nestled on the beautiful Lago Villarica under the smouldering volcano of the same name, travellers can participate in horseback riding, mountain biking, rafting, canyoning, kayaking, rock climbing and of course hiking to the summit of the real lava-spitting crater of Volcán Villarica. An experience of a lifetime! Those who wish to just relax and take in the magnificent views don’t worry, Pucón is the undisputed king of culinary variation in southern Chile, you are sure to find plenty of little cafes, restaurants and bars to relax and enjoy reading your book in. If that’s not relaxing enough, check out one of the brilliant thermal spas which are famous in the area, you’ll have no trouble winding down here for a day………..or four!

Before heading south, another national park worthy of a day trip is the Parque Nacional Huerquehue. Home to the Los Lagos trail, this tough national park is often overlooked in favour of Villarica however, many consider this to be the best trek in all of the La Araucanía region.

Wind your way along beautiful scenic roads through Lago Calafquén and Lago Panguipulli taking in the beautiful scenery, finding your own secluded beach and enjoying picnics on the shore of the lakes. These are the famous lands of the Mapuche indigenous community and every traveller will enjoy stopping by to learn about their heritage, traditions and culture.

Continue through the Lake District and you’ll arrive at Lago Ranco, an off the beaten track lake where tourism doesn’t really seem to have arrived just yet. In one circuit around this lake you can enjoy majestic views of the Andes, quaint simple fishing villages and Mapuche communities. The lake is home to Isla Huapi, a Mapuche community who live on a small island in the middle of the lake. Futrono, the gateway to the island is a dusty old town with a frontier feel, something very different to the rest of the lakes, and something only accessible with your own campervan.

Up next is the immense Lago Llanquihe. The biggest lake in the region makes a perfect picture set as a backdrop for one of the icons of the Lake District, the Mount Fuji-like Volcán Osorno. The little towns and villages around the lake have a shared German heritage, but differ greatly in character. Puerto Octay in the north, has a distinctively Bavarian feel, Frutilar in the west is an enchanting lakeside retreat with excellent restaurants, whilst breathtaking Puerto Varas in the south is a bustling adventure tourism centre which rivals Pucón and makes a great day trip itself.

Catch the local ferry to Isla Grande De Chiloé and you’ll be rewarded with what could be the highlight of your trip to Chile. Be sure to spend at least 3 days here, visiting the beautiful UNESCO wooden churches, hiking along the raging and wild west coast in Parque Nactional Chiloé, wandering the remote islands of Isla Mechuque and spotting Magellanic and Humboldt Penguins at the rugged Monumento Natural Islotes de Puñihuil. If you’re lucky, you might even get to prepare and feast on a bowl of Curanto, Chiloé’s most traditional dish, one of the oldest recipes which still graces the world’s tables.

Depending how long you have your Condor Campervan for, you can continue your trip south to Patagonia. Ferries run from Quellon in Chiloé to Chaiten where you can begin arguably the world’s best road trip- The Carretera Austral. Other options are to return to Puerto Varas where you can return your Condor Camper at our remote location depot or, for those still seeking more adventure, make the journey back up to Santiago via Chile’s coastline and best surfing at Pichilemu.

An alternative option for those wishing to visit Argentina would be to cross in to Argentina via the Paso Cardenal Antonio Samoré where you can visit and eat chocolate in Bariloche, the Ruta de los Siete Lagos and drive north to Mendoza, Argentina’s best wine region on the infamous Ruta 40. An amazing journey through the Parque Provincial Aconcagua, with views of the highest mountain outside of the Himalayas bring an end to an amazing road trip as you arrive in Santiago to return your camper. With time on your side, possibilities are endless, be sure to get in touch with our team who will be more than happy to assist you in planning your trip.

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