Lake Todos los Santos, Chile

Lake Locations:

Chile - Central -

Also known as:  Lago Todos los Santos,Lago Esmeralda, Purailla, Pichilauquen, Quechocavii (historical names)

One of the crown jewels in Chile’s glittering Lake District is Lake Todos los Santos. This huge, nearly 43,000-acre lake, although off the beaten path, is one of the primary destinations for tourists in Chilean Patagonia. Part of an old water route across the Andes into Argentina, Lake Todos los Santos has been visited by European travelers since the missions of the Jesuit and Franciscan monks beginning in the early 1600s. The name translates in English to ‘All-Saints Lake’. Monks used an inland route across a series of lakes and mountain passes to travel to Argentina in order to avoid possibly unfriendly native tribes. Today, Lago Todos los Santos is still a popular, scenic route connecting the Pacific coast in Chile to Lago Nahuel Haupi on the Argentina side of the Andes.

Located in one of Chile’s most popular Central Region vacation areas, Lake Todos los Santos is a refreshing and serene change from busier nearby Lake Llanquihue. The lake lies entirely within the Vicente Perez Rosales National Park, within the Southern Temperate Rainforest. One of Chile’s oldest national parks, Vicente Perez Rosales – along with adjacent Puyehue National Park in Chile and Nahuel Huapi and Lanin National Parks in Argentina – protect nearly 6,000 square miles of contiguous, pristine natural area across the Andes. Because there is limited development along the shoreline, the lake is a sought-after destination of nature lovers, photographers and fly fishermen.

Although travel along Lago Todos los Santos is limited mostly to ferry boat, two main lake ports – Petrohue at the western end and the village of Peulla at the eastern end – offer excellent accommodations to passengers arriving via ferry. The two towns are not connected by road. Several fishing and leisure resorts along the shoreline are also boat-accessible and offer excellent rooms and meals, although not much in the way of electricity. During periods of low water levels, the lake is well-supplied with sandy beaches that are popular for sun-bathing or even swimming for those daring to challenge the cold waters. Scuba diving is popular here as is hiking the many marked trails into the nearby forest.

Most visitors to Lake Todos los Santos arrive via the town of Puerto Montt on Reloncavi Sound, often by way of Puerto Varas on Lake Llanquihue, less than 50 miles away. A regular tourist service supplies transportation by bus and boat on Lake Llanquihue and Lake Todos los Santos and all the way to San Carlos De Bariloche, Argentina for those taking the full tour. Many however, remain at Puerto Varas to enjoy the ski slopes of the Osorno Ski Area, then move on to Petrohue to enjoy hiking, canyoneering, rafting, fly-fishing and horseback riding. One of the most scenic attractions near Petrohue is the Petrohue Waterfalls, a short distance downstream from the lake’s outlet.

Surrounded by mountains, there is little flat land near Lake Todos los Santos, and most visitors come prepared to do some hiking into the virgin forest surrounding the lake. The protected forest shelters several interesting animals found only in the Patagonia region, including two varieties of marsupials, pudu deer, coipos (often called “nutria”), chilla (looks like a fox but is unrelated), puma, Southern River otter, and a number of waterfowl and shore birds including several varieties of grebes, cormorants, black-face Ibis and night herons among others.

Fly-fishing is popular at Lake Todos los Santos, as the clear cold lake is well-supplied with several varieties of sport fish, including rainbow trout, Atlantic salmon and coho salmon. Surprisingly, none of these varieties of fish are native to the lake. Because of repeated onslaughts of volcanic ash, which often killed off the fish, limited tributaries where fish could escape during these events, and the short lengths of the few inflowing tributaries, there has been little chance for native fishes to evolve or migrate into the lake. German settlers actively stocked the waters with their favored species, trout and salmon, which soon offered too much competition for the smaller native varieties. Today, the only native fishes in the lake are thought to be the perch trout and catfish. The lake is a perfect spot to spend a week or two fly-fishing, and fishing resorts are quite popular much of the year.

Kayakers enjoy the rugged shoreline and small tributaries, while photographers take advantage of the wide expanses of water reflecting the perfect cone of Osorno Volcano rising 8,700 feet above the western shore. There is one 250-acre island on the lake: Isla Margarita.

Leaving Osorno behind while traveling down the lake, visitors are greeted by the sight of two other massive snow-capped mountains: the Puntiagudo to the north, and the Tronador to the east. After a two-hour trip to the far eastern end, the small town of Puella nestles next to the main tributary flowing into the lake, the Rio Peulla. During the rainy season, a massive influx of water often causes the lake level to rise up to ten feet.

Originally gouged out of the surface by glaciers, Lake Todos los Santos was once part of a considerably larger water body as it was joined with what is now Lake Llanquihue. The eruption of Osorno Volcano separated the proto-lake into two separate lakes, with Osorno towering above them both. How long ago this separation occurred is unknown, but it is safe to speculate that it happened gradually and in several volcanic events. In several spots near the volcano, dead trees can still be seen standing underwater, indicating a sudden rise in water levels.

Many visitors see Lake Todos los Santos only in passing while touring the old Lakes Crossing route to San Carlos De Bariloche. But the wise vacationer makes Todos los Santos a destination in itself. Both the towns of Petrohue and Puella offer modern hotels and occasional seasonal rentals, while resorts and fishing camps offer lodgings in varying degrees of luxury. Some offer free-standing cabins, swimming pools and gourmet meals. Camping is available on the sandy beach near Petrohue, and tour guides offer a variety of treks, adventures and activities. Real estate may be available in the towns but seldom on the lakefront itself. Nearby Puerto Varas has a large number of lodgings choices, nightlife and opportunities for water sports and boating. Lake Todos los Santos is a never-to-be-forgotten experience just waiting for your arrival.

Things to do at Lake Todos los Santos

  • Vacation Rentals
  • Fishing
  • Boating
  • Swimming
  • Swimming Pool
  • Beach
  • Kayaking
  • Scuba Diving
  • Camping
  • Cabin Rentals
  • Hiking
  • Horseback Riding
  • Waterfall
  • Wildlife Viewing
  • Birding
  • National Park

Fish species found at Lake Todos los Santos

  • Catfish
  • Coho Salmon
  • Perch
  • Rainbow Trout
  • Salmon
  • Trout

Lake Todos los Santos Photo Gallery

Lake Todos los Santos Statistics & Helpful Links

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Lake Type: Natural Freshwater Lake, Not Dammed

Surface Area: 42,873 acres

Shoreline Length: 78 miles

Normal Elevation (Full Pond): 620 feet

Average Depth: 626 feet

Maximum Depth: 1,106 feet

Water Volume: 27,888,534 acre-feet

Water Residence Time: 4 years

Drainage Area: 1,172 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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