Ansorena 425 local 4 · Pucón · Chile · · · Phone/Fax (56) 452444040 · Mobile phone (56) 9-93536886
Home > Excursions > Hikes > Villarrica Traverse Central Part: "Los Venados" and "Las Avutardas" Trails
Villarrica National Park:
  Mirador Los Cráteres
  Los Nevados
  Valle Turbio
  Quetrupillán Ascent
  Villarrica Traverse:
  First Part:
Ski Center - Chinay
("Challupén - Chinay")
  Central Part:
Chinay - Puesco ("Los Venados" and "Las Avutardas")
Huerquehue National Park:
  Los Lagos Trail
  Quinchol and San Sebastián
Villarrica National Reserve:
  Laguna Huesquefilo
Other areas:
  Santuario El Cañi


Villarrica-Traverse, Central Part: Chinay/Palguín Alto to Puesco
“Los Venados” and “Las Avutardas” Trails – Villarrica National Park
It is the most popular excursion among the ones that last more than one day. It offers a wide variety of landscapes, from different kind of forests, highland pastures and marsh zones, to extensive volcanic dump areas and highland deserts. It also visits three lagoons that could not be more different from each other.
This trail is part of the “Sendero de Chile”, a project to connect the whole country through a pedestrian trail from north to south, and that should be finished by 2010 to commemorate the bicentenary of the Chilean Independence.
General Information:

Distance and duration:
The total distance, from the Conaf’s rangers’ office to the Camino Internacional, is 43,4 kilometers with more than 2.130 meters of total ascent. It is meant to be done in 3 days, staying overnight at the lakes Azul and Avutardas; the last day is an easy one with only 3 to 4 hours downhill. But it is also possible to do it in only two days, camping at Laguna Blanca.
More detailed information of each part you will find in the description below.

Physical demand:
High, you have to carry the full equipment for several days and there are many climbs.

The trail is frequently used and well marked with iron stakes, which are easy to follow. However, since it is very high –more than half of the trail runs over 1.600 meters—it is very exposed to the elements, so it is common to be “in the middle of the clouds” and sometimes the visibility hardly reaches 50 meters. Generally there are vast parts covered with snow until late December or even January (high summer), and snow falling at any time during the summer is not uncommon. With a little snow and bad visibility it is almost impossible to find the correct route.

Best time to do it:
January to April, being careful and with a good weather forecast for the next days.
The national park authorities Conaf don't allow to do this hike with snow and close the trail in the end of may until mid-December. After a rough winter, it may be re-opened only in January.

Due to the rocky parts, firm trekking boots are a must. There are parts without water for 2 to 3 hours. The tent must be good enough to stand up against strong winds. Take your own cooking stove and do not contribute destroying the frail forest around Laguna Azul.

Entrance fee:
CONAF charges $ 8.000 for the use of the trails and campsites.

How to get there:
Getting out of Pucón take the paved road to Argentina (Camino Internacional) until the crossing Palguín (km 20), turn to the south and continue towards the Hot Springs of Palguín through a good gravel road. Instead of entering the thermal resort (km 30); take the road to the left with the sign “Coñaripe”. At km 35 there is a welcoming arch to the National Park and the road gets worse. This area is known as “Chinay”. A bit farther ahead there is the Conaf’s rangers’ office (km 36) where they charge the entrance and you can ask about the conditions of the trail.
From Pucón, it is a 50 to 60 minute-drive.
Route description:

1st part: Chinay – Laguna Azul (“Los Venados” Trail):

Distance and duration:
There are 18,1 kilometers with a total ascent of 1.450 meters. Carrying a backpack it takes about 6-8 hours.

Conaf’s Rangers’ Office Quetrupillán: 980 m
Cerro Los Pinos: 1.740 m
Junction with Mocho trail: 1.440 m
Pass: 1.920 m
Laguna Azul: 1.590 m

The beginning of the trail is well marked, and starts about 50 meters before reaching the CONAF’s rangers’ office. Through a catwalk you must cross the Chinay River and then we get closer to the mountains on the other side. After 30 minutes the trail starts to climb a mountain slope with continue zigzags. Take it easy, the climb is very long, and there are about 700 meters to gain. The forest is mixed, with raulíes, coigües, colihues and many notros which in springtime bloom fire-red. 15 minutes later the first araucarias appear. Soon you will have the first views towards the valley of Palguín Alto, and the Villarrica volcano with the Pichillancahue valley on the other side. Farther ahead you will find a sign that indicates that there is water 20 meters downhill; even though the access is not easy, it is better to get some here, since the next chance to find clear water again is several hours ahead.
After 1½ to 2 hours walking you will reach the limit of the forest. There is still some coirón, the typical highland grass, but it becomes scarce. Now the land gets more desert-like and you will find a rather thin thread of water, but it is not safe. Soon the trail turns into a pass, but instead of getting downhill, you have to turn right and keep on climbing; some stones in a pile will confirm that you are on the right track. At this point there are usually strong winds that make it hard to walk, especially if the “Puelche” is blowing, a very strong wind that comes against you from Argentina. The trail continues along the left side of the summit of Cerro Los Pinos, and then along the edge of the Mocho Range, going up and down all the time. There are some rocky parts that take turns with areas of stubby lengas. The views are great: Towards the north there are the volcanoes Llaima, Tolhuaca and Lonquimay, in front there is the Quetrupillán volcano, and farther, the impressive Lanín.
To the left you can see the valley of the Mocho River, much devastated by forest fires. Here there is an alternative entrance to the estate “Paraíso Escondido”, which avoids the steep climb to the Mocho Range and shortens the first part in a couple hours, but does not have the views and sensations of the original trail.
About half an hour after having reached the highest point next to Cero Los Pinos, the trail gets downhill and enters into a thick forest. Finally it gets to the bifurcation where it meets with the Mocho Trail. From the Conaf’s rangers’ office to this point there is an about 3 to 4 hour-walk.
From this union, the trail starts to gently climb and reaches the limit of the forest in half an hour. Here you have to cross some outlets of the Mocho River, but in the dry season they are practically empty. In some travel guides they recommend to camp here, but we don’t think it is a good place to do it. However, if you want to do the ascent of the Quetrupillán as a part of the Villarrica Traverse, this is the area where you get the closest to start it.
After leaving the forest behind, it begins a long part with a gentle climb along the slopes of the Quetrupillán, making a wide turn to the south. To the right there is a bizarre rocky peak– the remains of an ancient volcano. After about 20 minutes we cross a crystal-clear creek, and 15 minutes later we arrive to a meeting of another two, which actually originate the River Llancahue that runs all the way down to Coñaripe. Immediately afterwards there is a bifurcation: if you continue straight ahead there is the "Colonia Benavides" Trail which connects with the gravel road Palguín – Coñaripe near the Hot Springs El Rincón. It could be used as an “emergency exit” if you don’t want to continue in case of bad weather. Next to the bifurcation there is a plain ground where you can pitch a tent if it is not too windy.
The main trail here turns to the southeast and starts climbing again. With good visibility you can see from afar the route between the mountains and the pass we will have to reach. After another hour walking and an exhausting climbing, you will notice a depression between two mountains, but it is still not possible to see the Laguna Azul there. The trail gets away and climbs a bit more; here we reach the highest point of the whole trail. Now there is a long way downhill to get to the goal. While going downhill you can notice several volcanic craters and the lava flow that formed the plug that originated the Laguna Azul (some maps call it Laguna Los Patos). After another hour, at the end going in zigzag, we reach the shore, next to the outlet. In a small lenga forest there is enough space to pitch a tent. If there are too many people and the best places are gone, you can cross the outlet and walk through a path for about 5 to 10 minutes until it gets downhill and approaches to another river. Through this route it is possible to get down all the way to the Liquiñe valley, few kilometers ahead it turns into a wide road for four-wheel-drive vehicles. Several Chileans use this road when they come to fish or make a picnic at the Laguna Azul.
This lagoon, with its deep blue waters, narrowed between desert-like mountains, is an overwhelming experience. Unfortunately its surroundings have been seriously deteriorated in the past years. The small forest is almost completely littered by all kind of garbage, and visitors without ecological conscience cut the twigs to make fire.

2nd part: Laguna Azul – Laguna Avutardas (“Las Avutardas” Trail ):

Distance y duration:
Including the detour to Laguna Blanca there are 16,9 kilometers with a total ascent of 520 meters. Carrying a backpack it will take you 5 to 6½ hours.

Laguna Azul: 1.590 m
First pass: 1.720 m
Laguna Blanca: 1.640 m
Second pass: 1.830 m
Laguna Avutarda: 1.450 m

Continue the march between the mountain you used to arrive here and the lava flow that plugged the lagoon. Few minutes later the trail crosses a much eroded lava field, formed by big volcanic rock chunks. After a short climbing you have to cross another arm of the same lava tongue. To the left, at the slopes of the Quetrupillán, you can see the crater partially open from where the eruption came.
40 to 50 minutes later we reach a pass, and a wide volcanic dump area appears ahead of us. However, the trail turns to the southeast getting gently downhill towards a wide ditch. Through the middle of it runs a thin river. Even though its waters carry a lot of sediments, they still could be OK for drinking if you let them set for a while. Each time the river grows, there is a chance that the trail gets erased, but a line of stakes indicate the route at the bottom of the ditch towards the west side where you can see a small climbing towards another pass. From the top it is possible to see the Laguna Blanca. Getting down there is a small spring that manages to create a green spot with surprising plants amidst the dryness around.
The Villarrica Traverse passes half kilometer away of Laguna Blanca. There is no sign, but you can notice a path that leads there. It is a well-worth detour. The milky colors of its waters, along with the dark rocky formations on the shores, create a unique landscape. On the top you can see the south side of the Quetrupillán, covered with wide glaciers, meanwhile its west side has not always snow. It is possible to camp at Laguna Blanca. It is not the best place though, but people who want to make the whole excursion in only tow days, can stay overnight here.
From Laguna Blanca the trail continues to the south, going along the dry riverbed of a long ravine. To the right there is a volcanic cone with a deep red color. All the ground is covered with sediments of previous eruptions. In the neighboring mountains there are stripes of rocks, remains of ancient volcanic calderas. After half an hour we turn to the east and start to climb the slope, passing along the right side of a tongue of solid lava. Once on the top, you will realize that you have climbed the edge of a big crater. At the back you can see the Quetrupillán and, for the last time, Laguna Blanca. In this part another trail comes together, the one that comes from Rinconada, but it is seldom used and not very well marked.
We continue walking still very high through the slopes of a mountain range heading south-southwest. From here you can see the upper valleys of Liquiñe, covered with thick forests, and the volcano Mocho-Choshuenco at the back. Then the trail turns east and we enter into Argentinean territory for about 2 kilometers (be aware that some maps don’t show this part of the trail correctly). In this area you will gently go downhill and cross two crystal-clear brooks, the best water you will find on the second day, then you will have to climb on the other side to get to the next pass and enter Chile again. At this point, a fantastic landscape opens before your eyes, with the Lanín volcano and the Peinetas mountains, the Quinquilil and all the valley of River Puesco. To our feet there is a wide plain ground covered with grass and some stuck-watered ponds. The trail continues along the left side to the north, approaching a cliff. Through big loose rocks you get downhill to another marsh-like plain ground you have to cross towards southeast. Stubby lenga forests grow isolated in the driest zones. We cross several brooks that serve as outlets to the plain grounds and originate the River Puesco. Then the trail continues through a rough hill that separates two valleys. From here it is possible to see the Avutarda Lagoon in the background. Soon afterwards we enter the forest and it gets easier to continue downhill. Half an hour later the trail gets out of the forest and crosses another marsh area that goes all the way to the shores of the lagoon. To complete this second part of the trail you have to go again into the forest and continue along all the north shore of the lagoon. Through the foliage you can distinguish a sandy beach on the east side. To get there you have to take the trail to a clearing covered with grass, where remains of old fires indicate the camping area. Through the bushes you can get to the lagoon, and take some water. Unfortunately, this area has also a lot of garbage.
The Avutardas Lagoon (in some maps it is also called “Laguna los Patos”) is surrounded by mountains on three of its sides. It has a lot of vegetation on its shores, save the part with marsh where the outlet is. Its name is a local voice for two families of geese –Caiquén and Canquén- which usually nest in this marsh.

3rd part: Laguna Avutarda – Puesco:

Distance y duration:
To the end of the trail in the Camino Internacional there are 8,4 kilometers with a total ascent of 170 meters and 660 meters downhill in all. Carrying a backpack it takes about 2½ to 3 hours.
To the CONAF’s rangers’ office in Puesco there are another 3,4 kilometers with a total descent of 370 meters, and about 1 hour-walk .

Laguna Avutarda: 1.450 m
Highest point: 1.480 m
Meeting with the Camino Internacional: 1.000 m
CONAF’s rangers’ office at Puesco: 730 m

From the clearing at the Avutarda Lagoon the trail gets into the forest, now dominated by lengas, which are no more bushes, but impressive trees. Soon coigües, canelillos and quila join the vegetation, among other species. About 20 minutes after the start of the march, the trail crosses a crystal-clear brook, with better water than even the lagoon. After a small climbing we reach a marsh plain ground. First the trail goes along its left side, then crosses through it and gets again into the forest on the other side of the valley. Now it appears a plain area with a lovely forest. Very noticeable are vast spots with alstromerias and a great number of ancient fallen trees. In this area there are usually woodpeckers, which you can hear hammering from afar.
After another short climbing we reach a clearing on the slopes of a hill and you can see the bottom of the valley of River Puesco, where you will have to get to. The descent is quick and steep; parts with forest take turns with grass covered clearings. Remains of old gates show that these lands used to be worked. Half an hour later, in a ñirres zone, the trail comes together with a road for four-wheel-drive vehicles. There is a big sign that indicates that here starts the trail to the Quilquilil volcano, commonly known as the Colmillo del Diablo (Devil’s Fang). The Villarrica Traverse, however, continues to the east through the trail, keeping an altitude between the 1.000 and 1.050 meters for about 40 minutes before reaching the Camino Internacional that leads to the International Pass Mamuil Malal or Tromen.
Here you can try to hitchhike or you can walk 3,4 kilometers to Puesco, where is the CONAF’s rangers’ office. At the back of the house, next to the river, it is possible to camp if you have to wait for the buses that run through this area early the next morning.
If your goal is to make the Villarrica Traverse all the way through, you have to take the Camino Internacional towards south to the bridge Momolluco, for about 2,2 kilometers. Here is the starting point of the “Momolluco” Trail, which along its continuation the “Lagos Andinos” Trail will provide you two extra days of adventure.


Support for this hike:

If you don't have your own transport, we can organize the transfer for you (please ask at least with one day in advance). These are the different options, all rates for the ride with up to 4 people:

Transfer to the trailhead:
Ch$ 50.000
Picking up at Camino Internacional / Puesco
Ch$ 55.000

For larger groups over 4 people, please ask for rates.
Note: The rates do not include possible entrance fees.

GPS Rental:
We can also rent you a GPS device with the uploaded track and waypoints you will need.
For detailled information>



Click aquí here to see enlarged images

Area map

View to Villarrica volcano from the Chinay ascent

Cerro Los Pinos, highest peak of the Cordillera del Mocho.

Refreshing creek coming from the slopes of Quetrupillán

Trails through a bizarre landscape

Laguna Azul with Villarrica volcano

Laguna Azul, also known as "Laguna los Patos"

Mushrooms growing on lenga trunks

A small creek produce this green spot in the middle of the desert

The solitaire Laguna Blanca

Last view towards Quetrupillán volcano, from the right descents an ancient lava flow

About 500 meters wide crater

The marsh that originates the Puesco river, with Colmillo del Diablo and Las Peinetas in the background

Dawn at Laguna Las Avutardas

A creek flowing through the lenga forest

A male woodpecker with its typical red head

For more information, please contact us at:

TravelAid · Ansorena 425 local 4 · Pucón · Chile · ·
Phone/Fax (56) 452444040 · Mobile phone (56) 9-93536886 · ·