My name is Ganesh. I'm an Indian national currently living in Boston, USA. I and my wife Lalitha are planning on traveling to the Lake District and Chilean Patagonia from the 1st of April to the 11th of April.
Can someone please suggest the best itinerary based from Puerto Montt and involving any combination of day trips (boat, car, bus) to puerto varas, vulcan osorno, petrohue, chiloe, puella through the lagos (not to bariloche, because i don't have an argentine visa; unless i can get an argentine visa at the border). We are looking for breathtaking scenario and photography opportunities (not much hiking for this trip because of limited time)
I have around 4-5 days to spend around Puerto Montt, after which I want to fly to Punta Arenas (don't want to risk taking the Navimag, because it looks like the weather is dicy) and visit the Torres Del Paine for another 4-5 days (can i include trips to the bernardo and serrano, and the isla magalleno?). I'm not counting my cents, but of course I don't want to be splurging money needlessly on touristy things.
Would renting a car help? If yes, do you have any suggestions for a car rental company? Are car rental comapnies located in/have transfers from the Punta Arenas and Puerto Montt Airports?
Also, how is the weather in April? Would you recommend starting our trip from Torres Del Paine and then going to Puerto Montt and finally return to Santiago, or shall we do the Lake District first and then go to Chilean Patagonia?
Is it better to do it on my own and rent hospedejas when and as I go, or to get it pre-booked through some travel agency and get the tour trips?
Sorry for the deluge of questions and the long post. Thanks very much in anticipation of any help you can offer. I promise I'll "pay you back" with a detailed report of my trip and photos
Cheers 'n Thanks,
Lots of stuff to do in the Lake District.
Firstly, I would stay in Pto. Varas instead of Pto. Montt. Pto. Varas is a much nicer town, and has access to all the tours and areas that you would want to see in the area.
For things to do, check out day trips to Osorno Volcano and Lake Todos Los Santos. There are lots of tour companies to be found in the area that can arrange tours once to arrive.
Are you planning on hiking in TDP? If not, then you only really need a day or two to see the highlights of the park. Then you can do a penguin tour (definately worth it).
Weather in April will be chilly, bring lots of layers. I would make it equivilent to the type of weather you might expect in October or November in Boston.
Thanks so much Greg for your responses. From what I got so far on this and other forums:
1. Drive from Quemchi to Dalcahue is amazing.
2. Parque Nacional Andino
3. Stay in Chonchi for a typical Chilean experience.
4. Drive to Cucao to visit the NP.
5. Drive to Queilen
6. Short day hiking trails in PN Vicente-Rosales at Petrohue
7. Don't bother the boat trip on Lagos Sontos, if the weather is not good or if not going all the way to Bariloche (I can't go to Bariloche because I don't have an Argentinian visa.) - What do people think about a day trip to Puella and back over Lagos Sontos?
8. Visit Ensenada, about 40km east of Puerto Varas. Parque Pumalin is amazing. You have to rent a 4x4 and take the ferry to Chaitien (In January and February you can combien that with Chiloe.
9. There is also a nice small Rainforest National Parc in Chiloe.
Any other must-do things, day trips, etc. in the Chilean Patagonia or the Lakes region that people would recommend?
Also, I'm confused as to whether or not to rent a car. I'm told that the bus service is pretty good in the Chiloe/Patagonia areas, but I was thinking if I rent a car I'd have more flexibility with being able to stop whenever I want (e.g. if I see a beautiful view that I want to photograph for, say, 15 minutes).
And I'm convinced that I can get along in Hospedejas without pre-reservations.
Any ideas/opinions are very much treasured and appreciated. Thanks for the vibrant forum and for the immense service you guys are doing to clueless, newbie travelers like me. I'm trying to make the best possible of my time in Chile, because this might be a once in a lifetime thing for me. I promise I'll come back with a detailed trip report for future wannabe travelers.