Extending from the Río Biobío south to the city of Puerto Montt, the Lake District is one of the most popular destinations for both Chilean and overseas visitors. The main cities are Temuco, Valdivia, Osorno and Puerto Montt, but the most attractive scenery lies further east where a string of lakes stretches down the western side of the Andes. Much of this region has been turned into national parks and the mixture of forests, lakes and snow-capped volcanoes is unforgettable.
Between Temuco and the Pacific coast, meanwhile, is the indigenous heartland of Chile, home to the largest Mapuche communities. Here you will find
rucas(traditional thatched houses) and communities still fiercely proud of their traditions, hinting at the sort of country that the first
conquistadoresmight have found.
The major resorts include Pucón on Lago Villarrica and Puerto Varas on Lago Llanquihue. The cities of Temuco and Puerto Montt are also popular: Temuco for excursions into the Mapuche communities towards the coast and Puerto Montt as the starting point for longer voyages south to Puerto Natales, Puerto Chacabuco and the San Rafael glacier, as well as east across the lakes and mountains to the Argentine resort of Bariloche.
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