|Duration:||6 days, Two 3-day segments|
|Terrain:||Volcanic pass, rainforest path
and lake shore
|Scenery:||Volcano Osorno, large lakes, rainforest, backcountry farms|
|Highlights:||Views of Osorno, birdlife in the rainforest|
|Transport to/from hike:||Bus|
|Potable water:||Osorno: rare, Rainforest: abundant|
|Food on route:||Petrohue, Rio Sin Nombre farms and Lago Rupanco mercados|
|Horses and guides:||Available on Rio Sin Nombre|
|Permits:||None needed for hike|
|Accommodation:||Tent, refugio, occasional B&B's|
|Expenses:||Boat, thermals, refugio, camping|
|Special Equipment:||Knee-high gaiters for weed seeds|
|Annoyances:||Weed seeds and horse flies|
Three days on the volcano and three days past the thermals. The first day is on a dirt road, and may be possible to hitch most of the way. The second and third days could be combined for those who don't wish to camp on the volcano plateau, but it would make for a long day, as the boat trip across the lake is two to three hours long. The fourth day is from the beach to the thermals - four to five hours with packs, half that without. The fifth day is short - three hours - to Laguna los Quetros. From there it is a full day's hike to El Poncho where there is a free camp spot on a beach and a bus to Osorno at 6 am and 2 pm all days but Sunday, when only the 2 pm bus runs.
The Osorno portion of the walk is a long steady climb up to the plateau followed by a steep path down near the lake. Rio Sin Nombre starts with a small climb before crossing two bridges. After these there are five large steep climbs and falls in often muddy terrain with another swinging bridge along the way. The pass to Laguna los Quetros takes two hours to climb, and one hour to descend to the Lagoon. From the Lagoon, there is a small climb to a pond before descending fairly steadily all the way to Lago Rupanco. The path along Lago Rupanco is well traveled and after about an hour of walking becomes a dirt road to El Poncho.
Volcan Osorno is stunning at all times of the day from all angles. The landscape is very dry, as the volcanic soil is very young and still very porous - the streams run underground. Rio Sin Nombre is a mixture of rainforest, vistas over large lakes and remote farms.
Volcan Osorno. The birdlife of the rainforest is varied and wonderfully loud, especially during the morning chorus. From woodpeckers with pointed red heads to large colorful wrens that seem to sneak through the underbrush until coming within a few feet of a resting hiker before letting out a series of very loud red-squirrel-like chirps, watching from a nearby bamboo shoot for a satisfactory reaction.
There is local transport from Puerto Montt, Puerto Varas and Osorno to Ensenada, Petrohue, Bahia Cox, and El Poncho. See the 'walk details' section for specific details - on the navigation bar to the left.
Bring plenty of water for the Osorno portion of the hike. There are a few streams near the road on the way up to the volcano, but past that there is only one spot to find water, and even that may be dry during the summer. The water in this section should be treated for viruses as there was a rat outbreak a few years back that may have brought the Hanta virus into the region. There are many streams along the Rio Sin Nombre section that have no human settlements upstream and have fast flowing clear water.
Varied along the hike. See the 'walk details' section from more information.
Horses and Guides may be found on the Rio Sin Nombre section on the fifth climb in from Lago Todos los Santos and at the farm nearest the lake on the high plateau of the Lago Rupanco side of the hike for those going in the other direction. (The guide may well run out to greet you if he is home, don't worry about finding him.) Neither are needed for travel in either area as both hikes are short and marked with signs (though the Rio Sin Nombre hike is only marked for those heading north).
Refugio La Picada, located near the road end at Volcan Osorno's plateau, will have accommodation when they rebuild, in January 2004 they had only a foundation and a few small huts in place. The refugios marked on the map on the plateau are derelict and two have been knocked down due to the rats that may transmit the deadly Hanta virus. Camping is allowed in this area. There is an expensive hotel at Petrohue, as well as a few private campgrounds. The next accommodation on the route is the refugio next to the thermals. It is well built, but has no bed or bedding available. The cost of 8000 for two people includes the use of the thermal bath hut. Camping is permitted in this area for 500 pesos per person, and an additional 1500 per person for use of the thermal baths. There is a nice campground at Laguna los Quetros for 500 per person. A B&B is along the Lago Rupanco road in the area known as Puerto Rico. A free campspot along the beach of Lago Rupanco makes a perfect end to the trip at El Poncho, where the bus begins its route to the town of Osorno.
Bus fare to/from the trek - variable. Boat charter from Petrohue to El Rincon - 35000 per boat - needed to join the two sections of the hike together as a one-way journey - see 'hike details' section in the navigation bar to the left for ideas for the budget traveler. Refugio at the thermal baths - 8000 for two people per night including the baths - optional. Camping fees for organized campgrounds besides the one at El Poncho - 500 per person. Homemade food along the way - 2000/kg cheese, 500-1200/loaf of bread (may have to wait one hour for it to be cooked - super fresh bread!), 300-500/six eggs.
Seed hitchhikers, Horse flies (tavanos)