LAGO VILLARRICA, tucked in the mountains some 86km to the southeast of Temuco, is Chile’s most visited lake. The reason for its popularity is Pucón, a prime outdoor adventure centre. At the other end of the lake from Pucón is Villarrica, its more sedate counterpart.
The area around Lago Villarrica was first settled by the Spanish in the late sixteenth century, but they didn’t have much time to enjoy their new territory: their towns were sacked by the Mapuche in 1602. Recolonization didn’t take place until the Mapuche were subjugated 250 years later. With the arrival of the railroad from Santiago in 1933, the area became one of Chile’s prime holiday destinations.