Chilean Christmas – Lakes District

The Lakes District of Chile is a land of blue waters, dark evergreen forests, and snow-

capped volcanoes. 



And delightfully funky birds. This is a black-faced ibis.

It is also where Chris’ brother Greg and his wife Katherine were meeting us for Christmas and we were eagerly awaiting their arrival – we hadn’t seen anyone since October and everyone was getting slightly massively tired of each other.

Long story short: we’d been talking up Auntie Katherine and Uncle Greg’s visit for months.


In true Team J fashion, we leapt right into activities: Chris and Katherine spent a day trekking up Volcun Vilarrica. Chalk this up as one of those excursions that would never be allowed in the US. They hand you crampons, an ice ax, a gas mask for the deadly gases, and a sled. And then you begin climbing an active 9,380′ volcano.  No experience necessary.

Last eruption? 2015.

They limped home 9 hours later, completely exhausted but thrilled with the experience. To hear them tell it, the sled ride down the mountain was just shy of terrifying.

The next day we went rafting in a freezing river. I consider this prep for the Grand Canyon trip we’re taking later this year: we’ll be legit river rats.

And each evening we warmed our tootsies in a wood burning hot tub. While looks lovely, but is a royal PITA: six hours of constantly attending to a fire that, if you’re lucky, will warm the tub up to a tepid 95 degrees. Perfect for kids. Less ideal for adults that are nursing sore muscles.

My favorite day was visiting  the Termas Geometricas (Geometric Hot Springs), an hour outside of Pucon.

Imagine a steep-sided valley covered in prehistoric vegetation. Steam wafts from holes in the rock and a shockingly cold stream tumbles over the rocky earth. 



There are 16 pools nestled amongst the ferns. A small sign denotes the temperature. This one was a toasty 43 degrees Celsius (109 fahrenheit).

Getting in takes patience.

If you are in the Pucon area, Termas Geometricas is a must-do! Bring a swimsuit, towel, flip-flops, and lunch. They’ll provide changing rooms and lockers.  Get there early or very late at night – this is a popular spot. 

And then, suddenly, it was Christmas Eve. Major shout-out to the Alaskan fairies that assisted Santa in bringing gifts to Chile.

The little girlie goes out to take stock of her presents…still half asleep. 

And then the building begins. 

Party time. 


We spent our vacation building legos, gorging on fresh produce, and drinking our weight in Chilean wine. Not a bad Christmas break.

We were beginning the next part of the journey, the massive drive through the wilds of Patagonia, refreshed and rejuvenated. And happy to have spent it with these two. 



A few notes: Nothing is inexpensive in Chile. And especially not in tourist hot spots. These activities blew our budge but were completely worth it – and made all those cost-saving hacks (nights spent in truck stops and PB&J sandwiches for lunch) that much sweeter. Money well spent.

All activities are highly recommended.

Volcano Vilarrica Tour: Summit Chile

River Rafting: Summit Chile

Hot Springs: Termas Geometricas 

Walk around both Pucon and Puerto Varas – they are cute little towns and worth a nice mosey through the shops.


Pucon: This house was ah-mazing. It had a pool, hot tub, and was palatial in size. Very private and only a few minutes outside of town. Highly recommended. Fabulosa casa in Pucon.

Puerto Varas: This house gets a tepid recommendation. We knew it was right next to an identical house, what we didn’t know was that it was also in the owner’s backyard so using the amenities (basketball hoop, playground, and BBQ area) felt slightly intrusive. It was also farther out of town and had an annoying entry system. We managed ok but it wasn’t as fantastic as the Pucon House. Las Magnolias Lofts #2. 


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