At the far western end of Lake Lacár by the placid shores of Lake Nonthué, Chachin Waterfall spills 66 feet through the green Valdivian forest. This isolated cascade near the Chilean border is a highlight of Lake Lacár boat trips, and one of the most popular outings and day trips from San Martin de los Andes. Admiring the tumbling waterfall itself only takes a couple of minutes, but it’s the journey to get there that makes it such a popular and enjoyable trip. To reach Chachin waterfall, visitors must board a three-hour cruise from the port in San Martin de los Andes, and disembark by the port of Chachin on Lake Lacár’s western end. The cruise to Chichin passes small islands that spring from the impossibly blue lake, and skirts past sea caves that were once used by indigenous Mapuche settlers. Or, to drive to the waterfall, rather than cruise, the drive down gravel Route 48 passes numerous hidden beaches. Once in Chichin, a 30 minute hike leads through temperate rainforest to the lookout over the falls, where snowmelt gathering from the Andean peaks will eventually make its way down to Lake Nonthué and on to the big blue Pacific.
While the trail to Chichin waterfall isn’t long, it’s important to still use caution on the trail since it’s often slippery and wet. If visiting by car, continue the trip with a stop in Hua Hum just a few miles closer to the border, although in the event of rain, the dirt road can quickly turn to mud and potentially become impassable. When sunny, however, the drive from San Martin to Chichin Waterfall should take approximately 45 minutes.