Chile’s Lake and Volcano District is home to fifteen active volcanoes and twelve major lakes, which makes it a pretty scenic place for heading out on a bicycle tour. Start in hip Temuco, the region’s capital, before heading out on quiet dirt roads and singletracks to spots like Araucarias Biosphere Reserve and Chile’s most active volcano. Along the way, there are natural hot springs to soak in and comfy cabins to spend the night in.


  • Explore the lakes and volcanoes of Chile by mountain bike
  • Ride through ancient forests
  • Bathe in natural hot springs
  • Visit the local waterfalls

Brief Itinerary

Day Highlights Overnight
Day 1 Arrival in Santiago Santiago
Day 2 Flight to Temuco - Explore the City Temuco
Day 3 Biking around Temuco Temuco
Day 4 Explore the length of Conguillío National Park Malalcahuello
Day 5 Get to know Nalcas-Malalcahuello National Reserve Corralco
Day 6 Ride through the Las Raices range Cordillera Las Raices
Day 7 Check out the waterfalls near Pucón Ojos del Caburgua
Day 8 Bike in Villarrica National Park Villarrica
Day 9 Departure  

Detailed Itinerary

Day 1: Arrival in Santiago

Ride the gondola or hike to the top of Cerro San Cristobal

Welcome to Chile! Upon arrival at Santiago International Airport, a driver will meet you and transfer you to your hotel. You'll have the rest of the day to explore the city at your leisure. 

Suggested activities include:

  • Hike to the top of Cerro San Cristobal, where you can get your bearings by surveying the area from a high vantage point. Pathways lead 2,788 feet (850 m) up this central hill to a series of lookouts that offer wraparound views of Santiago. If you aren't the hiking type, not to worry: catch a scenic gondola instead.

  • Stroll the cobblestone streets of Barrio Bellavista. On the north side of Santiago, you'll find this trendy enclave, at once fashionable and bohemian. Stroll past colorful houses adorned with graffiti art and choose between an eclectic array of eateries and bars—great for people watching.

  • Visit the Plaza de Armas, a stone plaza located in Santiago's historic center dating to 1541. There's also the impressive Catedral Metropolitana, a neoclassical church dating to 1748 whose towering twin bell towers dominate the north side of the plaza.

  • Snap pics in front of the Palacio de la Moneda. Chile's opulent Presidential Palace (known simply as "La Moneda") is a short stroll from the Plaza de Armas. It was here in 1973 that Chile's armed forces, backed by the U.S. government, overthrew President Salvador Allende, kicking off a brutal right-wing military dictatorship that would last for 17 years. Visitors are welcome.

For dinner be sure to get out of the hotel and enjoy a culinary adventure in the city. In recent years Santiago has emerged as a global foodie destination. Chilean chefs are reinventing traditional dishes like empanadas, cazuelas (stews), and seafood with ingredients harvested all the way from the northern deserts and southern Patagonian regions. You can find great restaurants and wine bars not only in the Bellavista neighborhood but also in the revitalized historic barrios of Yungay and Italia. 

Day 2: Flight to Temuco - Explore the City

Take a final stroll around the capital before heading south

After breakfast, transfer to the Santiago airport for your flight south to Temuco, a city in central Chile. This is the former home of Pablo Neruda, one of the most influential poets of the 20th century. Its leafy central square, Plaza Aníbal Pinto, is adorned with imported palm trees, while the nearby Regional Museum of Araucania is a colonial building housing traditional Mapuche costumes and decorative objects, plus archaeological artifacts.

When you arrive, check out the Feria Pinto—a colorful Mapuche produce-and-food market that takes up several blocks along Barros Arana. For dinner on the town, Temuco offers an array of local specialties and international options including sushi. 

Day 3: Biking near Temuco 

Biking in Chile's Lake and Volcano District

This morning, you'll start off near Temuco, which is the main city in the Lake and Volcano District, and get your legs ready for the upcoming week's riding with a relaxed 12-mile ride. 

Biking distance: 12 miles 

Day 4: Cycle in Conguillio National Park

Biking in Chile's Lake and Volcano District

After breakfast, travel to Melipeuco until you reach the gateway of Conguillío National Park. Time to bike the park from north to south! The first section is a slightly steep path that'll take you to the park's main entrance by Truful Truful waterfall overlooking Llaima, which is the second-most active volcano in the country.

From there, you'll be riding by moon-like lava fields and through ancient forests of Nothofagus beech trees and Araucaria araucana. The latter are the Chilean national tree, and they live for so long they're technically considered a living fossil. After riding all day under the hulking shadow of the Sierra Nevada range, finish up at lake Captré before dinner and a night in a cozy lodge.  

Biking distance: 31 miles 

Day 5: Discover Nalcas-Malalcahuello National Reserve 

Biking in Chile's Lake and Volcano District

Today you'll be riding through more pristine forests of ancient Araucaria trees, this time in Nalcas-Malalcahuello National Reserve, before coming up to the Navidad crater of Lonquimay Volcano. Its last eruption was in Christmas, 1988 — hence the cool name.

Biking distance: 19 miles 

Day 6: Bike in the Las Raices Range

Biking in Chile's Lake and Volcano District

Once again, you're in for a day of awesome scenery! Today you'll be riding through the Las Raices range, which is all thousand-year-old trees and views of the grand Lonquimay volcano. Your legs deserve a break after all that riding. At dusk, visit a local spa for a soothing bath in a thermal pool. You might also want to get a massage (or two!) while you're here before bedding down in a lodge for the night. 

Biking distance: 31 miles 

Day 7: Explore Waterfalls Near Pucón

Biking in Chile's Lake and Volcano District

A new day means even more Chilean countryside to pedal through. First up, Pucón. It's the main adventure tourism destination in the Lake and Volcano District, and from town you can cycle to the Hanging Bridge of Quelhue to meet and get to know a local Mapuche community. Then carry on biking until you reach the Ojos del Caburgua waterfalls. Head back to Pucón, check out the local bar and restaurant scene, then head to bed.

Biking distance: 19 miles

Day 8: Bike Under the Shadow of Villarrica Volcano 

Biking in Chile's Lake and Volcano District

A perfectly cone-shaped (and active!) volcano, Villarrica sits at the northern end of the Lakes Region. Also known as  Rucapillán (which translates to "Devil's House" in the Mapuche language) this 9,340-foot-tall mountain dominates the horizon south of Pucón. 

From here, head west on the Villarrica-Pucon highway before pedaling up a dirt road to the entrance of Villarrica National Park.  Continue biking up the road to Villarrica ski center. There you'll find amazing views of the Andes and the surrounding lakes and volcanoes. You might even see smoke coming out of Villarrica volcano.

Biking distance: 16 miles 

Day 9: Departure

Consider tacking on a few days to explore other Chilean cities like Valparaiso

Time to say goodbye to the lakes and volcanoes of Chile. After breakfast, head to the city of Temuco, about two hours' drive away. If you wish, you could spend a few days hanging out in this fun town, or continue on to some of Chile's other great cities like Santiago and Valparaíso.