There are 43 national parks in Chile.

There is a long story of conservation in the country, with new reserves and national parks created every decade (the last one being Desierto Florido national park in the Atacama desert).

Everything began with the creation of Vicente Perez National Park, one of the most beautiful places in southern Chile. Located in Chile’s Lake District (Los Lagos region), the park was created in 1926 and the peculiar name of the park honors one of the most important Chilean public figures of the 19th century.

Todos los Santos lake

Vicente Perez Rosales National Park is therefore the first national park in Chile and the second one in South America. It covers a vast area of 2,530 sq. kilometers (977 sq mi) and it is connected to two national parks in neighboring Argentina (Nahuel Huapi and Lanín). To put it in a nutshell, Vicente Perez Rosales National Park together with the neighboring protected areas protects a wild area of close to 15,000 square kilometers (5792 sq. mi.). 

Here, you will find a spectacular lake, plenty of lush green forests, a gorgeous waterfall, one of South America’s most beautiful volcanoes and lots of epic hiking trails.

Enjoy the trip!

1. Vicente Perez Rosales is one of the most beautiful national parks in Chile

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Welcome to one of the most picturesque national parks in South America…and the entrance door to Patagonia! The highlights of Vicente Perez Rosales national park are the Todos los Santos lake, the Petrohué Waterfall and the snow capped Osorno volcano (2653 m.a.s.l. / 8701 ft).

All of these destinations can be reached by car, including the western side of the Osorno volcano thanks to a ski resort that was built at 1.672 m.a.s.l. As for the Petrohué waterfall, it offers an epic postcard of the roaring Petrohué river with the Osorno volcano as a backdrop. Todos los Santos lakes is one of the most beautiful lakes in Chile, with its clear blue waters and green mountains as a backdrop. From its beach, you can see the summit of the nearby Puntiagudo volcano (yes, there are dozens of volcanoes in the area).

2. It is a paradise for volcano chasers

Hiking to the Osorno volcano

Practice the joy of volcano-chasing in Vicente Perez Rosales!

Everywhere you go, you will see the beautiful Osorno volcano with its glacier at the top. The Osorno volcano is actually one of the most accessible volcanoes in Chile, as you drive to the ski station and get closer to the summit thanks to a cable-car (you can ski there depending on the snow conditions). The most adventurous travelers can summit the volcano in a 2-day (very) demanding expedition.

However, you can still enjoy some fantastic views only by hiking on the short trail next to the ski station. From there, you will see another active volcano that became famous on April 15th, 2015 with an impressive eruption : the Calbuco volcano (2015 m.a.s.l. / 6610 ft.).

Keep your eyes wide open while entering the park and you will see two other stunning volcanoes : the steep Puntiagudo volcano (2493 m.a.s.l. / 8179 ft.) and the great Tronador volcano (3,491 m.a.s.l. / 11,493ft.).

3. There are plenty of amazing outdoor activities you can do here!

Osorno Volcano hiking

There are more than a dozen stunning (and well-marked) hiking trails in Vicente Perez Rosales national park. The most epic full-day hike (4 to 5 hours) is the “Desolation Trail” (Paso Desolación), a 14-kilometer (8.8 mi) hike that will take you around the base of the Osorno volcano. This popular hike starts right outside the boundaries of the national park (on the eastern side of the Llanquihue lake) and will take you through volcanic landscapes and beautiful forest areas before you reach the Petrohué waterfall.

Near the well-known waterfall you will also find a nice, easy hiking trail to enjoy some nice views of the Petrohué river and its narrow channels shaped by ancient lava. 


Those seeking water activities can kayak in the crystal clear waters of the Todos los Santos lake, open for kayakers of all abilities. If you’re looking for a more adrenalinic experience, you can do some nice whitewater rafting in the Petrohué river, right below the Petrohué waterfall. 

4. Vicente Perez Rosales national park protects a spectacular fauna & flora

Flore of Vicente Perez rosales national park

The vegetation of the park is dense thanks to the intense precipitations (especially between May and September). It corresponds to the Valdivian temperate rain forests (basically “cold jungles”) in its mountain variant. The composition of the forest varies depending on the altitude and average temperature of the location. And because you can explore areas as low as 50 meters (164 ft) and as high as 2650 meters (8694 ft), you should be able to spot plenty of fascinating species. The most common trees are the coihue, muermo (or ulmo), tineo and teñiu. Beautiful plant species can be found here, including plants that rely on hummingbirds for pollination.

As for wildlife, about 30 species of mammals live in the park. While most of them are shy and difficult to observe, you should know the elusive puma and the tiny pudu (smallest deer in Chile) inhabit the forests of the park. The park is home to two species of marsupial mammals, the rare monito del monte and the long-nosed shrew opposum. 

Finally, if you’re a birdwatcher, you’ll have plenty of birds to search, with 80 species of birds inhabiting the area!

5. Getting to Vicente Perez Rosales national park is beautiful

Puerto Varas in Chile

In order to travel to Vicente Perez Rosales national park, the most popular option is by flying from Santiago de Chile to Puerto Montt. Then, you can drive to the nearby Puerto Varas, a beautiful quiet town at the shore of the great Llanquihue lake. Puerto Varas is full of colonial charm with plenty of German inspiration, as it was founded by German settlers in the middle of the 19th century (also visit the nearby Frutillar!). Most travelers stay here to explore the national park during the day, and you will find plenty of quality accommodation and delicious food in downtowns. 

It takes about 50 minutes (55 kilometers / 34 miles) to drive from Puerto Varas to the entrance of the park, near the small town of Ensenada. It is a scenic route that offers some amazing views of the Osorno and the Calbuco volcanoes at the shore of the stunning Llanquihue lake. 

Some travelers come from Argentina, as a border crossing (called “Cruce Andino”) through the park is possible. It combines a bus and ferry across the andes and connects Bariloche in Argentina to Puerto Varas in Chile. Maybe the best excuse to cross the Todos los Santos lake!

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Do you want to travel to Vicente Perez Rosales National Park? Check out our tours here or go directly to our Lake District Adventure or Lake District Premium Tour

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