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  • Javiera Puentes y Jacynthe Boudreau

Osorno volcano; Paso Desolación trail hike

A awesome trekking with amazing breathtaking lookouts

on volcanoes, lakes and andean mountains

If you are planning to visit the Chilean Lake District, Vicente Pérez Rosales national park is a must go to enjoy the Andes' breathtaking views. One of the most interesting and accessible ways to explore it is by walking the ¨Paso Desolación¨ trail. Goind around Osorno volcano on its North-Eastern side, you'll be litterally walking among Andean peaks while heading to one of its most well preserved glacier lakes, el Lago Todos Los Santos. On this path, on a clear day, you will be able to see 2 volcanoes: Calbuco and Osorno, but also 3 snow-capped mountains of immense beauty : La Picada, El Puntiagudo and El Tronador.

Paso desolación path is the longest trail on the Osorno

and one of the closest to Puerto Varas.

Still, it is not crowded and very peaceful.

Accessible from Petrohue villa, you will have to pay some acces fees and register in CONAF, the organization in charge of the parks managment in Chile. Starting there, you will have to go and come back by the same trail that goes from 189 m to 1096 m of altitude.

Total lenght of the trail is 14 kms, so you might only make half of it if you start in Petrohue.

For anoher kind of experience, participating in our guided tour, you can start in La Picada sector, which is not accessible by public transport. This itinerary brings one way, mostly downhill to Petrohue, for 14 kms. The first half of the trail is then really quiet and you will reach the highest point of 1096 meters above sea level after only 45 minutes. The next hour consists of circling around the volcano's skirt on flat terrain for an hour, before descending to Petrohue. You will cross multiple dry river beds, impressive paths of destruction after landslides and ash acculumations. For the last hour, you will be back under the tree line, where native flora can be seen, with different blossoms of brooms, hazelnut trees and tepus at different time of the year. A driver will wait for you at the end of the trail in Petrohue for the way back to your hotel or hostel. The walk of approximately 14 kilometers lasts between 4 and 6 hours and is apropriate for all types of walkers.

On the trail, dues to the altitude and winds presence, we quickly leave what is left of the forest to pass the line of trees and walk on a volcanic soil, that explains the name of the promenade... Desolation path refering the the absence of vegetation. You will find low vegetation and few wildlife, however the panorama of 360 ° worth it. There is still a chance to see vulture or condor hovering in the sky. Much of the path is covered with ash from the last eruption of Calbuco, carried here by the winds on April 22th of 2015. These ashes form a sandy cover that complicates a little bit your descent and makes walking more demanding, just like walking on the beach, or skiing downhill. Walking poles can be lended to participants and is to be considered if you have your own.

There are some recommendations before you start your hike:

Have good walking shoes or boots

First you must bring boots or hiking shoes, preferably waterproof, in case of rain. A waterproof coat will also ensure you stay dry and warm despite the winds and storms. Be aware that winds can be very cold in altitude even in full summer season and that there is usually snow on part of the trail in spring, fall and winter. The last 3 kilometers (or 3 first if you start your walk in Petrohue), are on top of 30 cms of volcanic ash that has accumulated since the eruption of Calbuco volcano in April 2015: It's like walking on the beach. As the hiking season advances, the soil hardens a little though.

Avoid sunstroke and dehydration

Second, you must also be prepared for a hot sunny day in what is also called ¨Paso Insolación¨. Cap or hat, sunscreen and plenty of water are requiered. No water source is present on the trail, you should then fill up at least 1 or 2 liters at your accomodation before starting your adventure. The water in the Lake District is drinkable and have good taste from the tap. If you book with us, we will provide you a bootle of water at the start of the hike and will have extra water to refill.

Treat yourself with a swim in Lake Todos Los Santos

Third, for the bravest, on sunny day, bring your bathing suit, and enjoy a well-deserved dip in Lake Todos Los Santos at the end of the hike. A short swim in these deep blue waters will give you a last glance at the Osorno volcano before heading back to Puerto Varas.

As a conclusion, be careful, do not leave any waste behind you, even organic waste. Respect mother nature that runs the place and enjoy its beautiful landscape.

Let us help you plan your day, a specialized bilingual guide will provide you safety and security hints with great fauna and flora informations.

Contact us at +56 9 65906458 or

via e-mail

Hope to see you soon nearby Puerto Varas!

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