Puerto Montt, Chile
Chile’s adventure capital is less well-known than famous tourist destinations like Patagonia and the Atacama Desert. But the Lake District south of Santiago has long been a playground for Chileans and Brazilians, with skiing in winter and all sorts of water and mountain sports come summer. Most large ships use tenders to take passengers to the public pier inside Canal Tenglo. From there it’s a 20-minute walk to the heart of town, or a 30-minute drive to nearby Puerto Varas, a thoroughly adventure-minded town.
What We Love
Volcanoes: The area is blanketed with snow-covered cones that are shaped just like the volcanoes you drew in grade school. This makes for attractive photos, and opportunities for outdoor adventures: hiking, snowshoeing, and skiing, for example.
Lake LLanquihue: Once you learn to pronounce it (yan-key-way), the lake that links Puerto Montt is a great deal of fun, for everything from scenic cruises to waterskiing.
Best Known For
Bavarian Culture: Ski areas in South America have a field day with trying to evoke European mountain towns, though here it’s totally justified because the region was originally populated by German immigrants. That means old-world architecture, German foods like kuchen (a German fruit flan) and frosty Bavarian-style beer.
Osorno: The most iconic of the region’s volcanoes is this perfect cone, where dozens of outfitters offer nature trips for people of all ages and abilities.
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Who It's Best For
Adventurers: The whole economy is geared toward getting your adrenaline going; you'll be jumping on the bandwagon, too.
Beer Snobs: That Kunstmann beer is actually quite good — and even better in a German-style pub.
Don't Say We Didn't Warn You
Those Volcanoes Are Still Highly Active: The nearby Calbuco Volcano erupted dramatically in April 2015, spewing ash and smoke. Though outfitters and residents are cautious and prepared for this sort of thing, these natural occurrences have a way of messing up excursion plans. The plus side: opportunities for amazing photos.
Earthquake Are a Fact of Life Here: Building codes are the best in the world, and the safety systems are top-line — hardly anyone outside the epicenter even batted an eye at the 8.3-magnitude earthquake in September 2015 — but for people who don’t live with the rumble, it can be a lot. Know that you might feel the earth move.
Ann Abel is a Brooklyn-based contributor to ShermansCruise who has also written for Departures.