Nicknamed “the king of the South”, the Osorno Volcano, is a huge, snow-peaked volcano that overlooks a glorious lake and miles of beautiful forest. And, if you think looking at it is nice, the views from the top are even better.
If you’ve always wanted to tick ‘climb a volcano’ off your bucket list then the Osorno Volcano in Puerto Montt of the Lake District, Chile will complete your mission. But there is more to do at the Osorno volcano than just the climb. Read on to find out all about the exciting opportunities that lie in wait for you at the Osorno Volcano.
There are two ways you can tackle the Osorno Volcano. You can either grab your ice axe and hike to the summit or don your skis and hit the pistes. Or both, if you’re feeling extra energetic.
1. Climbing Osorno Volcano
Dormant for well over 100 years, hikers who decide to take on the Osorno Volcano can feel safe in the knowledge that an eruption is highly unlikely. However, the 2,652m Osorno Volcano is not an easy climb. Generally undertaken by those who already have some climbing experience, this gigantic stratovolcano is not for the faint-hearted.
To climb all the way to the top you will need to use crampons and other hiking equipment. This will help you battle the ice. Both the ascent and descent are challenging, but far from impossible and worth every step when you get to the top. On a clear day, the views are impeccable. On a cloudy day, you will have to make do with a sense of achievement.
- Best time: Summer (December to March). The weather is at its clearest, affording a majestic view.
- Difficulty level: A bit of experience will help you, but you definitely don’t need to be an expert.
- Duration: 10 hours
- Do not attempt to climb the mountain if the weather is bad. Strong winds can literally blow you off the volcano.
- You will need to get a permit from a local agency before you can climb the mountain.
- Take a tour – you should usually have one guide per two people.
2. Skiing on Osorno Volcano
What could possibly be cooler than skiing down a volcano? Not much is the answer. The Osorno Volcano is more than just a hiking destination. People from all over take to its slopes every year with skis and snowboards in tow. The ski centre at the Osorno Volcano isn’t the biggest resort you’ll find in Patagonia but that doesn’t mean it isn’t worth visiting for a day.
Boasting 12 trails and a snow park, the Osorno Volcano ski field will certainly keep you occupied. The site also has a restaurant, a ski rental shop and a ski school for those looking to build up their confidence before heading out solo. Skiing down this majestic mountain will be a memory that you will keep forever.
- Best time: Winter (June – October). This is when there will be the most snow.
- Difficulty level: There are some trickier runs for those who are up for a challenge.
- Hours of Operation: 9 am – 4 pm
- Do not expect people to speak English here. It is a good idea to learn some basic Spanish before you go, especially if you are going to the ski school.
- Wear lots of layers so you can add or take away as the day cools down or heats up.
Skiing is a must if you are headed to Chile for a winter vacation; and the country has more skiing destinations to offer than just Osorno Volcano.
If you are headed to the Osorno Volcano from Santiago, like most people, you have the option of taking a 1-hour and 40-minute flight or a 12-hour bus journey.
There are many flights that leave every day with a number of different airlines from Santiago to Puerto Montt (about 20 km outside of Puerto Varas, the nearest city to the Osorno Volcano).
For land transportation, there are many bus companies running from Santiago to Puerto Varas daily. If you book yourself onto a nice bus then you should be able to sleep for most of it.
In either case, you will need to cover an hour’s journey to reach Osorno Volcano from Puerto Varas.
Firstly, do not confuse the Osorno Volcano with Osorno the city. They are over 100km apart and despite sharing a name, have nothing to do with one another. Secondly, you will regret it if you only give yourself enough time in Puerto Varas just to see the volcano and leave. There are all kinds of beautiful things to see in the town of Puerto Varas, including some wonderful old buildings and a whole host of national parks. In fact there is a host of activities to enjoy in the Lake District, before you decide to leave.
If witnessing a spectacular volcano in Chile is on your list of things to do in Chile, then make the Osorno Volcano be the one for you. It is utterly spectacular to behold and even more exciting to get up close and personal with.
If you want to know about other exciting volcano climbing opportunities in Chile, read our ten popular volcanoes to climb in Chile.