Above: Osorno Volcano and the Petrohué River near Puerto Varas, Chile

Exploring Chile’s Lake District

My affection for Chile grows stronger with each return trip. The scenic splendor of this Andean nation is reason enough to recommend it. So is its geographic diversity, from the Atacama Desert to fertile wine valleys, snow-covered peaks, Pacific fjords and Patagonian trout streams. Equally alluring are the country’s political stability and economic prosperity. And when it comes to personal security, the comfort level is high.

On my recent trip, I opted to explore the Chilean Lake District, the northern border of which lies around 500 miles south of Santiago. There, dramatic snowcapped volcanoes are reflected in cobalt-blue lakes. For decades, this has been a popular vacation spot for Chileans. The plethora of water sports is an attraction, as is trekking in national parks that boast thick hardwood forests and dramatic waterfalls. But lately, the opening of several upscale hotels has helped to make it a destination for international travelers as well.

&Beyond Vira Vira

&Beyond Vira Vira in Pucón - &Beyond

The most appealing of these new hotels is &Beyond Vira Vira, which is located outside the city of Pucón (population 22,000), on the Liucura River, in the shadow of the snowcapped Villarrica Volcano. (The property is reached after a 90-minute drive from Temuco Airport, which is an 80-minute flight from Santiago.) The original Hacienda Hotel Vira Vira debuted in 2014, but after an extensive refurbishment, it reopened as an &Beyond resort last September. This is the company’s first venture in South America, &Beyond having made its reputation with a stable of excellent African safari lodges, several of which are Hideaway Report-recommended.

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Above: Osorno Volcano and the Petrohué River near Puerto Varas, Chile

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Adventures in Chilean Patagonia Politics of the Pisco Sour