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Glamour Style and Serenity
Sophisticated hotels, luxury dining and a sense of peace lets you enjoy the beautiful scenery of southern Chile to the fullest.
Located over 600 miles south of Santiago, Chile’s Lakes Region is full of more than just lakes: islands, forests, volcanoes and an endless array of hidden spots spill over with peace and beauty. The two main cities are the regional capital Puerto Montt and Puerto Varas, a taste of Germany in the south of Chile.
Since you can fly in to the capital, it’s the simplest place to start your journey. In Puerto Montt, if there’s one not-to-be-missed classic, it’s a visit to Angelmó, a market specializing in fish and other seafood, folk art and a range of products from the area. On the building’s second floor, a number of restaurants enjoy a view of the sea. Why not start your day with a plate of sea urchins at Chilotito Marino? As you savor this energizing delicacy, take in the eatery’s photos and decorations, which recount 50 years of history. Chilotito Marino was one of the first places in the Angelmó market to obtain a liquor license. Prior to that, wine was sold in simple cups, and it was common to order a tecito (a cup of tea, which meant you wanted white wine) or a cafecito (cup of coffee, meaning red wine). Today, Chilotito Marino even has WiFi.
As you explore Puerto Montt, make time for some culture. The Casa del Arte Diego Rivera features a theater, exhibits by local artists and a second-floor café called Sirope, which opened a little over a year ago. Sirope is small, has a lovely view and serves Italian coffee and delicious apple strudel. For those with more traditional tastes, the centrally located and often busy café Rhenania is a tearoom and bakery that dates back to 1959. Try the kuchen americano, which is actually a delicious cake.
If it’s a clear day, crossing the Chacao canal aboard the ferry to the island of Chiloé is a spectacular experience. Ferry passengers are often accompanied on the half-hour trip by seals and dolphins, and the landscape becomes truly impressive as you approach the island’s shores. En route to the city of Ancud, stop at Ostras Caulín (several signs point the way). This restaurant serves fresh oysters from its own farm, raw or fried, in soup or in a cocktail. Pleasant ambiance, a view of the sea and service every day of the year – “whenever the sun is up,” says the Website.
After touring Ancud and visiting the penguin colonies (less than 20 miles outside the city), if you have not had a chance to sample the famous curanto al hoyo – a special dish traditionally cooked in a hole in the ground – stop in at the restaurant Kurantón to try a version of this dish prepared in a large pot. Also known as pulmay, this hearty fare includes pork, chicken and seafood, as well as chapapele and milcao, both made with potatoes. The broth is served on the side, in a cup, and it is spectacular. If you don’t have the appetite for this much food, try the excellent mussel stew. The atmosphere of Kurantón is cozy, and the service is warm and welcoming.
The Crown Jewel
Currently the region’s tourism gem, Puerto Varas is home to the best hotels, dozens of restaurants and pubs, as well as a casino. Located on the shore of Lake Llanquihue, the city was founded in the mid-19th century, during a period of German colonization in the south of Chile. A number of lovely, wooden buildings date back to that era. The city isn’t terribly large; you can take in almost everything on foot.
Among the wide selection of dining options are notable hotel restaurants, like Cumbres del Lago at the hotel Cumbres Patagónicas, under the watch of chef Claudio Úbeda, and the much more private Alelí, at the hotel Arrebol Patagonia. Among the other fine dining options is the Trattoria da Alessandro, a warm, friendly establishment, where you can enjoy excellent homemade pastas. For beef tartar and sandwiches with a German influence, try Café Haussmann, one of the city’s classics. Another highlight: La Marca, a small restaurant that serves exquisite grilled meat cut by their own butcher shop, El Maitén, located right next door. Other popular eateries specializing in meats include Las Buenas Brasas and Puro Toro.
If you want to enjoy craft beer, don’t miss Tronko’s Brewery, owned by the affable Spaniard David Gil, who learned the art in Germany and England. His Indian Ale is truly incredible, and the place has a vibrant energy at night. Dominga Patagonia is another nightspot popular among locals.
For shopping, the store Puerto Skúa is an absolute essential. Eugenia Vera hails from Chiloé, but she began knitting while living in Punta Arenas. Her store has been going strong for three years. She specializes in hand-knit designs made with Chilean wool that she dyes herself. Primitiva, another local shop (with two locations), is known for a great selection that ranges from folk art to natural cosmetics, essential oils and gourmet products. Vicki Johnson’s chocolates are a regional favorite, with flavors including orange, spiced prune and the especially delectable cinnamon. Almacén La Murta is another standout, with knit items and local products, all 100% natural.
On the Lake
On the shore of Lake Llanquihue, north of Puerto Varas, you’ll find the town of Frutillar. The impressive Teatro del Lago boasts a schedule packed with concerts and performances and also features a small café with a view of the lake called Cappucini. It’s the perfect place to stop and catch your breath. Frutillar is home to the Museo del Colono, where an interesting collection of objects will give you a sense of the area’s German history. It’s very well put together and well worth a visit. Hungry? Stop at Gutten Appetit for a couple of “carolinas” (plump, German-style sausages) served with purple cabbage. Gaze out onto the lake as the waitresses do cross-stitch embroidery on their breaks. And if you’re there in the afternoon, have a slice of kuchen, the representative German pastry, offered at a number of places, including the carefully decorated Lavanda Casa de Té, which also has a terrific view.
Heading north along the lake, you can take the lovely road that leads to Puerto Octay, a town that Chile’s Council on National Monuments recently declared a zona típica (typical zone). As you pass rolling hills and take in the view of the Osorno Volcano, you’ll see a number of wooden houses built by German settlers. Before you reach Puerto Octay, stop at Rancho Espantapájaros, a restaurant open year round, with an incredible view and an eternally lit grill used to prepare boar, beef and chicken. On Sundays, they also serve lamb, and offer an all-you-can-eat salad and drink buffet.
Puerto Octay is distinguished by its gourmet acumen: a single block across from the town square is lined with a chocolate factory, a bakery and a cheese house. This charming little town is worth exploring on foot. Stroll over to Hotel Centinela, a wooden, German-style house with a view of the volcano and a splendid park. Puerto Octay is also home to Hotel Hasse, another German-style manor that offers lodging and onces (typical Chilean tea).
From Puerto Varas, you can also explore the road that runs along the lake towards the southeast and leads to Ensenada, the capital of murta (or murtilla) production. Similar to a cranberry, this Chilean berry is rich in antioxidants and used to make kuchens and marmalades. One place that serves these and other delicacies is Onces Bellavista. Here you can sample a traditional German tea, choose from the a la carte menu or indulge yourself with the all-you-can-eat buffet. The restaurant also offers one of the best views around. On the way to Ensenada, there is one place that is rather unusual for the area: in addition to being a restaurant, Bombón Oriental serves Turkish coffee and Middle Eastern sweets. It’s a great break from all the German fare.
Don’t miss the opportunity to visit the Petrohué Falls, in the heart of Parque Nacional Vicente Pérez Rosales. Hike along the park’s numerous paths and, if you’re in the mood, take a 20-minute ride aboard a jet boat down the river to the falls, with the Osorno Volcano looming above. Tours are available through Katarata Outdoors.
Continue your explorations by taking the road to Ralún – in the Reloncaví estuary, the first fjord of Chile’s Patagonia region – which is a spectacle in and of itself, even though the town is rather small. Finally, you’ll reach Cochamó, another picturesque town, where you can enjoy fly fishing, horseback rides, trekking through evergreen forests, biking and camping in domes. This area is pristine and peaceful, with few people. And therein lies the region’s charm: incredible landscapes and silent spaces, complemented by excellent hotels and local and international cuisine. What more could you want?
Where to Stay
$$$ Hotel Cumbres Patagónicas: A terrific view of Lake Llanquihue and the volcano, with its own restaurants and German tea service, as well as a heated pool and a spa.www.cumbrespatagonicas.cl
$$$ Hotel Arrebol Patagonia: A boutique hotel with just 22 rooms, where wood is the featured player in the well-preserved architecture.www.arrebolpatagonia.com
$$$ Hotel Salzburg: A German-style building with a view of Lake Llanquihue. They also offer cabins, a restaurant and a heated pool.www.salzburg.cl
$$$ Bauernhaus: wooden mansion, built in 1918, offers lodging and breakfast, with eight lakefront cabins.www.hotelserenade.cl
$$$ Hotel Centinela: A hotel in the middle of a large park; cabins are also available.www.hotelcentinela.cl
$$$ Hotel Hasse: A traditional, German-style building.www.hotelhaase.cl
Where to Eat
Chilotito MarinoPalafitos de Angelmó, local 19, second floor www.chilotitomarino.cl
SiropeQuillota 116, 2º piso Tel. 56-65-260-977
RhenaniaAntonio Varas 328 www.rhenania.cl
AncudOstras Caulin Tel. celular 56-9-643-7005 www.ostrascaulin.cl
KurantónArturo Prat 94, Ancud Tel. 56-65-622-216
Trattoria da AlessandroAv. Costanera, Puerto Chico Tel. 56-65-310-583 www.dalessandro.cl
Café HaussmanSan Francisco 644 Tel. 56-65-237-600
La MarcaSanta Rosa 539 Tel. 56-65-232-026
Tronkos’s BrewerySanta Rosa 218 Tel. 56-65-233-080 www.tronkosbrewpub.cl
Dominga PatagoniaWalker Martínez 551 Tel. 56-65-238-981
CapucciniTeatro del Lago, Av. Philippi 1000 Tel. 56-65-422-900 www.teatrodellago.cl
Gutten AppetitBalmaceda 98 Tel. 56-65-421-145
Lavanda Casa de TéKm 1.5 on the road to Quebrada Honda www.lavandacasadete.cl
Rancho Espantapájaros,Quilando, Km 6 from Puerto Octay to Frutillar Tel. 56-65-330-0049
Onces BellavistaOn the road to Ensenada Km 34 Tel. 56-65-335-323
Bombón OrientalRuta 225 Km 40,8 on the road to Ensenada Tel. 56-65-212-066
Where to shop
Puerto SkuaSan Francisco 320 www.puertoskua.cl
PrimitivaSanta Rosa 306 B www.primitiva.cl
Vicki JohnsonSanta Rosa 318 Tel. 56-65-232-240 www.vicki-johnson.com
Almacén La MurtaSan Pedro 571
what to do
$$ Moderately Priced
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