The snow-capped cone of Osorno Volcano is one of Chile’s most recognizable landmarks. Towering over Lake Todos Los Santos and Lake Llanquihue in the Andean mountain range, Osorno is the starting point of Chilean Patagonia and is a magnet for adventurous outdoor enthusiasts who come here to ski, hike, and trek.
A winding road leads you to Centro de Ski y Montaña resort, where chairlifts ferry passengers to a point near the volcano’s peak—the views of the alpine lake below make it a worthwhile excursion even if you don't ski. The lift is open year-round, and trekking and hiking on the volcano are popular summer activities, often combined with visiting the Petrohué Waterfalls and rafting on Lake Llanquihue. Experienced climbers can make the full-day trek to Osorno's summit.
Multiple tour operators provide day trips up Osorno, typically leaving from Puerto Montt or Puerto Varas. This is a great option if you don't feel confident making the trip independently—it’s also a good way to skip the hassle of driving.
Things to Know Before You Go
- Osorno Volcano appeals to adventure-seekers, but you need to plan your trip in advance.
- Dress in layers; the summit is always snow-capped.
- Don’t forget to bring sunscreen; even in winter, the sun can be harsh.
- It’s possible to hike one way and take the ski lift the other.
How to Get There
It takes around one hour to drive the 56 miles (90 kilometers) to Osorno from Puerto Varas and around an hour and a half to drive the 66 miles (107 kilometers) from Puerto Montt. There is no public transportation, so if you don’t have a car, your best bet is to join a tour.
When to Get There
If you want to ski, visit in winter (June to October), but if it's hiking and exploring the lakes you're after, November through May is preferable for more mild temperatures.
Where to Eat
The ski resort Centro de Ski y Montaña also runs a year-round restaurant selling simple meals. Otherwise, the closest restaurants are in Ensenada and Petrohué where you find unpretentious local eateries serving Chilean fare.