Sea Kayaking in the Lakes and Volcanoes District
Chile's southern region of lakes and volcanoes is an expression
of exuberance. Between volcanic cataclysms, glacial sculpting, torrential
rivers and massive temperate rainforests.
This area is home to one of the most remarkable indigenous cultures
in the Americas, the Mapuches. For nearly three centuries, the Mapuches
defended their homeland, La Araucania, from the Spanish conquistadors.
As the Mapuches ceded their territory to the newly independent republic,
European settlers flocked to this paradise of rich volcanic soils,
ancient forests, and clear glacially formed lakes whose waters reflect
the chain of active volcanoes along the eastern horizon. The pastoral
landscape which characterizes the central valley in this region
- broad undulant pastures, German-style farmhouses, quiet tidy lakeside
pueblos. The Lake Region's forests were a challenge and threat to
these first settlers.
In the northern portion of the Lake Region, La Araucania, national
and private parks protect the last tracts of Araucaria trees, an
ancient conifer dating from the Jurassic age and now a Chilean natural
monument. Where the Central Valley finally sinks into the Pacific
and Chilean Patagonia begins, magnificent old-growth Alerce forests
are home to the world's second longest-lived tree: examples of this
endangered conifer surpass 3500 years of age.
Visits to these parks, Andean lake cruises to Argentina, and numerous
lakeside resorts are excellent great trip ideas for families or
the general interest traveler. More adventurous or specialized travelers
will find nearly limitless opportunities for hiking and mountaineering,
seakayaking , whitewater rafting, birdwatching, mountain biking
and horseback riding, among other activities. The cities of Puerto
Varas and Puerto Montt are jumping-off points for excursions in
this area and to Patagonia
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