Lake Llanquihue, Chile

Lake Locations:

Chile - South -

Also known as:  Lago Llanquihue

One of the largest lakes in South Chile, Lake Llanquihue (Lago Llanquihue in Spanish) covers over 200,000 acres. This picturesque lake, second only in size to General Carrera Lake, lies in the shadow of magnificent conical Osorno Volcano. Surrounded by lush vegetation and a haven for native flora and fauna, Lake Llanquihue has become a favored destination for sightseers, skiers and vacationers from all over the world. The lake was first discovered by western explorers when Pedro de Valdivia arrived in 1552, but remained relatively untouched by colonialists until the end of the 19th century. The name means ‘submerged’ or ‘submerged land’ in the native Mapuche language and was no doubt often visited in prehistory; the archeological site of Monte Verde a few miles away holds firmly-dated evidence of the earliest human culture in the Americas, some 1500 years older than the better-known Clovis culture. What the lake looked like to those visitors some 12,500 years ago, we may never know, but archeologists are actively digging into the issue. Llanquihue was scraped out of the earth by the last glacier to leave the area, as were most lakes in the Chilean Lake District.

Today, of course, most visitors come to Lake Llanquihue to relax, fish, ski and trek the several national parks and reserves in the area. The only outflow from the pristine lake is the Maullin River, which originates at the lake and flows southwest to the Gulf of Coronados on the Pacific. The lake is an excellent fishery, with fario trout, rainbow trout, silver or coho salmon and perca trout as the sport fishing favorites. A number of fishing lodges and resorts arrange pleasant modern accommodations and offer fishing expeditions on Llanquihue Lake, the Maullin River, and the many mountain streams draining into the lake. The lake is also excellent for water sports, with its wide expanses of open water and excellent lakeside accommodations. Kayaking, canoeing, water skiing, jet skiing, swimming and river rafting are all favorite pastimes for vacationers.

The surrounding countryside is perfect for an active vacation: hiking, mountain biking and nature observation in summer vie for popularity with skiing on the slopes of the Osorno Volcano, which has a ski resort located right on the lakeshore. The tourist-oriented towns of Frutillar, Llanquihue and Puerto Octay lie along the western lakeshore, while larger Puerto Varas anchors the southwestern shore. All have beautiful beach areas and spectacular views of snow-capped Osorno Volcano. Puerto Varas in particular shows its German heritage most clearly in the architecture and cuisine. As one of the oldest resort regions in Chile, the Llanquihue Lake area has modern cultural and entertainment facilities such as theaters, galleries, a casino and music venues as well as a well-preserved natural environment.

German immigration was actively encouraged in the mid-1800s when settlers were needed to develop farming in the Northern Patagonia region of both Argentina and Chile. The small city of Puerto Varas in particular is graced with soaring Germanic-style churches and homes. The city is well-known for its many restaurants serving authentic kutchens, marmalades, sausages and craftsman-style beers. The city is geared toward travelers and visitors, with annual festivals and activities planned for nearly every month of the year. Many hotels, resorts, guest houses and vacation rentals assure there is always the perfect lodging choice available. All types of tour operators are headquartered here and can provide expert guidance and equipment for nearly any type of activity. The views are spectacular: seven volcano peaks can be seen from the Llanquihue lakefront pier. A road, mostly paved, circles the entire lake. Just south of the lake near Puerto Varas, the Reserva Nacional Llanquihue or Llanquihue Reserve is a favorite among rain forest fans and also features Mount Calbuco, a huge active volcano that last erupted in 1893.

Puerto Varas is also the starting point for one of the old Lake Crossing routes across the Andes. Originally the favored route of Jesuit priests centuries ago, the tour begins by bus to Lake Todos los Santos within the Parque Nacional Vicente Perez Rosales; this national park is the oldest in Chile and holds both Osorno Volcano and Lake Todos los Santos. Lake Llanquihue and Todos los Santos were once joined into one huge lake, but volcanic eruptions separated the two, sending their outflow in different directions.

The 570,000-acre Parque Nacional Vicente Perez Rosales is a favorite for nature observation, thermal baths, skiing, fishing and boat tours. There is a hotel and some camping available in the park. Bird watchers spot great grebes, flightless steamer ducks, torrent ducks, kingfishers, crested caracaras, green-backed firecrowns, Magellanic woodpeckers, ashy-headed geese, Chilean coots, and eagles. Animals seen in the park include pudu deer, grey foxes, river otters, pumas, wild cats, ferrets, long-muzzled weasels, and little mountain monkeys. Several hiking trails take sightseers to view waterfalls and magnificent views overlooking the lake. The Lake Crossings route across the border requires taking a ferry boat down the length of the lake, then boarding another bus which takes travelers across the Argentina border to yet another lake and another boat-ride, finally reaching San Carlos De Bariloche on Lake Nahuel Huapi.

Lake Llanquihue is an excellent choice for an extended vacation in Patagonian Chile. A variety of rentals can be found along the lakeshore including holiday guest houses, apartments and private residences. Some real estate is available, but the area is quite popular and may require a search for the perfect property. Properties range from bare land to summer cottages to established homes. So, pack up the ski boots and suntan lotion, the swim trunks and fly fishing gear. You’re headed to northern Patagonia on the trip of a lifetime. And, before you know it, you’ll be looking for your own little piece of Lake Llanquihue to call your own.

Things to do at Lake Llanquihue

  • Vacation Rentals
  • Fishing
  • Boating
  • Swimming
  • Beach
  • Canoeing
  • Kayaking
  • Jet Skiing
  • Water Skiing
  • Camping
  • Hiking
  • Biking
  • Waterfall
  • Wildlife Viewing
  • Birding
  • National Park
  • Casino Gambling

Fish species found at Lake Llanquihue

  • Coho Salmon
  • Rainbow Trout
  • Salmon
  • Trout

Lake Llanquihue Photo Gallery

Lake Llanquihue Statistics & Helpful Links

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Lake Type: Natural Freshwater Lake, Not Dammed

Surface Area: 213,993 acres

Shoreline Length: 122 miles

Normal Elevation (Full Pond): 230 feet

Average Depth: 597 feet

Maximum Depth: 1,040 feet

Water Volume: 128,579,113 acre-feet

Water Residence Time: 62.9 Yrs

Drainage Area: 664 sq. miles

Trophic State: Oligotrophic

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Trophic State | LakeLubbers

Trophic State measures the level of algae and nutrients in a lake.

An oligotrophic lake is very clear (blue in color) and does not support much plant or fish life. A hyper-oligotrophic lake is the clearest of all lakes, and is nearly devoid of plants and fish.

A mesotrophic lake is slightly green and supports a moderate degree of plant and fish life. A lake's most desired trophic state is generally this mid-point - the mesotrophic state.

A eutrophic lake is somewhat murky and supports a large amount of plant and fish life. A hypereutrophic lake is clouded with algae, plant life, and fish life. A eutrophic or hyper-eutrophic lake can be difficult to navigate by boat - and is often an unpleasant place to swim.

The use of phosphorus-rich and nitrogen-rich fertilizer on lawns and golf courses surrounding a lake can cause it to become eutrophic or hypereutrophic.


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Catchment or Drainage Area | LakeLubbers

This is the surrounding area that drains into a lake, including land, rivers and their tributaries. This is also known as the lake's "catchment basin".

Small lakes at the highest peaks of mountains have small drainage areas. The world's oceans have the largest drainage areas.


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Lake-Area Population | LakeLubbers

This is the estimated number of people who live in a house with a view of a lake, plus those who self-describe the lake as their home, for example: "I live at Smith Mountain Lake."


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Water Residence Time | LakeLubbers

This is the estimated time that it takes for an amount of water equal to the entire volume of a lake to flow out of - or evaporate from - the lake.

Residence Time can be as short as a few days for fast-flowing small lakes, and can exceed 100 years for slow-flowing large lakes.


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Completion Year | LakeLubbers

This is the year that a reservoir was first filled to the reservoir's normal elevation - or the year that a natural lake was first dammed. A large reservoir can take more than a year to fill after its dam is first closed.

The Grand Anicut in southern India is generally considered the world's oldest dam that still operates. Grand Anicut was constructed in the second century BC. It now impounds an irrigation network that includes roughly one million acres.

You can find many of the the world's newest reservoirs on LakeLubbers. Many of the world's oldest reservoirs appear on the last page of that list.


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Water Volume | LakeLubbers

This is the estimated volume of water that a lake contains -- measured at the lake's normal elevation. By this measure, the world's largest freshwater lake is Siberia's Lake Baikal.

You can find many of the the world's largest lakes (by water volume) on LakeLubbers.

Water Volume can be measured in acre-feet, in cubic miles, or in cubic kilometers. One acre-foot is the amount of water needed to cover one acre (43,560 square feet) to a depth of one foot. One cubic mile equals 3,379,200 acre-feet. One cubic kilometer equals 810,713 acre-feet.

1 acre-foot is equal to 325,851 US gallons. Siberia's Lake Baikal contains about 6,276,367,740,000,000 gallons of freshwater - nearly 1 million gallons for every living person on earth.

The other - and more widely used - measure of a lake's size is the lake's surface acreage. By that measure, the world's largest freshwater lake is North America's Lake Superior.


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Maximum Depth | LakeLubbers

This is the estimated greatest depth of the water in a lake -- measured at the lake's normal elevation. The world's deepest lake is Siberia's Lake Baikal; that lake's maximum depth is estimated at 5,314 feet.

You can find many of the the world's deepest lakes on LakeLubbers. If you select the last page of that list, you will find the (maximum depth of) the shallowest lakes in our database.


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Average Depth | LakeLubbers

This is the estimated average depth of the water in a lake -- measured at the lake's normal elevation. If the water volume and surface area of a lake are known, an estimate of the lake's average depth can be calculated:

Water volume ÷ Surface Area = Average Depth

Example: 1,000,000 acre-feet ÷ 20,000 acres = 50 feet average depth


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Maximum Elevation | LakeLubbers

This is a lake's highest water level, measured by the lake's surface distance above sea level, that can occur during flooding. A lake's highest possible maximum elevation is usually the top of the lake's dam or spillway.

At lakes that include residential development, government regulations usually forbid the construction of homes below a lake's maximum elevation.


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Minimum Elevation | LakeLubbers

This is a lake's lowest water level, measured by the lake's surface distance above sea level, that can be reasonably expected to occur. Low lake levels can occur due to deliberate seasonal draw downs for irrigation or impending snow melt, reduced water inflows, drought and evaporation, residential or commercial water demands, and hydropower generation.

Some lakes' minimum and maximum elevations are virtually the same. Lakes that generate hydropower may vary by several feet - according to power demand. Lakes whose primary purpose is to prevent flooding can seasonally vary by 100 feet or more.

When some lakes reach their minimum elevation, their boat ramps may not be long enough to permit boat access - and boats docked on shallow parts of the lake may end up on dry ground. In those cases, kayakers and shore-based anglers may be among the few happy recreational users of the lake.


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Normal Elevation | LakeLubbers

This is a lake's normal water level, measured by the lake's surface distance above sea level. For a reservoir, this water level is also known as "full pond" or "full pool".

You can find many of the world's highest-elevated lakes on LakeLubbers. Lakes with the lowest elevations (known by LakeLubbers) are shown on the final page of that list.


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Shoreline Length | LakeLubbers

This is the length of the exterior shoreline around a lake - measured at the lake's normal elevation. The shoreline length can be considerably shorter or longer when lake water levels are lower or higher than normal.

A lake with many coves has a much longer shoreline than a lake of similar surface area that is nearly circular in shape.

When known, the shoreline miles that we report in our statistics include only the lake's exterior shoreline, and exclude the shorelines of islands located within a lake's boundaries. In lakes with many islands, those islands' combined shorelines may exceed a lake's exterior shoreline.

You can find many of the world's longest-shoreline lakes on Lakelubbers.


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Surface Area | LakeLubbers

This is the area (acreage, square kilometers, etc.) of the top surface area of a lake - measured at a lake's normal elevation. The surface area can be considerably smaller or larger when lake levels are lower or higher than normal. North America's Lake Superior is the world's largest freshwater lake by this measure.

The other measure of a lake's size is the lake's water volume. By that measure, the world's largest freshwater lake is Lake Baikal in Siberia.

You can find many of the world's largest lakes (acres) on Lakelubbers. There is no widely-accepted minimum surface area that defines a lake. What Lakelubbers describes as a lake, you might call a pond. The smallest lake that Lakelubbers currently includes is Hawaii's 2-acre Lake Waiau.


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Water Level Control | LakeLubbers

This is the organization that controls water releases or outflows from the lake or reservoir. In the USA, this is often the US Army Corps of Engineers, a power company, a municipal water system, an irrigation district, or a paper manufacturing company. In the case of private or gated lakes, a homeowners' association may be the lake's controlling authority.

Many lakes cross borders, including North America's Great Lakes. The control of such lakes and their coveted freshwater may be amicably shared - or hotly disputed.

"Water wars" continue at many lakes as growing populations and crop irrigation needs compete for the freshwater that lakes contain.


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Lake Type | LakeLubbers

There are 3 basic types of lakes that are currently included on LakeLubbers. 2 types may be dammed or not dammed, producing 5 classifications.

- A Reservoir is a man-made freshwater lake that is usually created by damming rivers.

- A Natural Freshwater Lake occurs naturally - often by glacial activity - and has a salinity of less than 30 parts per thousand. It may be dammed to produce electricity or for other reasons.

- A Natural Saltwater Lake occurs naturally and has a salinity of more than 30 parts per thousand (ppt). It may be dammed.

"Brackish" water may be categorized as freshwater or saltwater, depending on its salt content (salinity). Oligohaline water has less than 15 ppt of salt. Mesohaline water has 15-29 ppt. Polyhaline has 30-335 ppt.


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