Visiting Saltos del Petrohué & Lago Todos Los Santos

The Lagos Region of Chile isn’t yet an incredibly popular destination among those traveling to this country, but after some adventures around Puerto Montt and Puerto Varas, we decided that we would absolutely love to return and spend more time exploring the stunning natural spaces here. If you’re staying in the area, we definitely recommend adding a trip to Saltos del Petrohué and Lago Todos Los Santos to your list of places to see!

Saltos del Petrohué with Osorno Volcano in the distance
Saltos del Petrohué with Osorno Volcano in the distance

Getting There

Both the Saltos del Petrohué and Lago Todos Los Santos sit on Ruta 225 a ways outside of Puerto Varas. While it is easier to reach these spots on a tour or by renting a car, it is cheaper and totally doable to visit using public transport.

From Puerto Montt

We were staying in Puerto Montt for a few days between exploring Bariloche and Santiago and wanted to see a little more of the countryside. So, we decided to make a day trip to the Petrohué area. There are no direct buses to Saltos del Petrohué that we know of. We were told by our local Airbnb host that we must connect in Puerto Varas.

Buses leave from the main Terminal de Buses in Puerto Montt starting around 7:15 a.m. There are 10-20 buses leaving daily from this terminal and there are multiple reputable companies, like Pullman. We showed up the day of and bought our tickets to Puerto Varas. It only takes 20 to 30 minutes to get from Puerto Montt to Puerto Varas and tickets cost between $2 to $5 USD (1500-4000 CLP). The bus dropped us at the corner of Del Salvador & San Pedro in Puerto Varas. This is where we also caught the bus on the way back to Puerto Montt.

Buses to Puerto Varas in front of the Puerto Montt Terminal
Catch buses to Puerto Varas in front of the Puerto Montt terminal

From Puerto Varas

Once you’re in Puerto Varas, head to the corner of Walker Martinez and San Bernardo to catch the bus to Saltos del Petrohué. This is just a bus stop, not a station, but you’ll see combis parked on the street. Just confirm that the bus is headed to the falls or Lago Todos Los Santos. You can pay the driver as you board. It only costs a couple USD (1000-2000 CLP). Buses leave about every 30-45 minutes and it takes about an hour to get to the Saltos del Petrohué. It is a bit shorter by car or tour since you won’t be making stops along the way.

If you want to visit Lago Todos los Santos first, stay on the bus until you reach the last stop near the lodge at Petrohué. This is only about 10 minutes past the stop for the waterfalls. After your visit at the lake, catch the bus back at the lodge and hop off near the entrance to Saltos del Petrohué or ride it all the way back to Puerto Varas. If you visit Saltos del Petrohué first, just head back out to the road near the parking lot when you are ready to catch the bus to Lago Todos Los Santos.

Saltos del Petrohué visitor's center
Saltos del Petrohué visitor’s center

Visiting Saltos del Petrohué

The Saltos del Petrohué are a series of cascades that sit in Vicente Pérez Rosales National Park. This spot in the national park is popular among both international travelers and locals for good reason. Ribbons of vibrant blue water flow among dark lava rock with lush forest and the towering Osorno Volcano as a backdrop. Furthermore, getting to the beautiful waterfall overlook only requires a short walk on a well-maintained path, making it easily accessible.

Saltos del Petrohué park info
Saltos del Petrohué park info

We hopped off the bus and walked into the visitor’s center to pay our park fee. It only cost about $4 USD (3100 CLP) per person and is valid for the entire park. If you drive here and park in the lot, it costs a bit extra. You can now buy national park tickets in advance online here. The visitor’s center has restrooms and information on park activities. The park/park facilities are open daily from 9 a.m. until 6 p.m. (5 p.m. in the winter). Check the park website for updates and holiday and seasonal hours.

Standing on the bridge overlooking the Saltos del Petrohué
Standing on the bridge overlooking the Saltos del Petrohué

From the visitor’s center, walk the manmade walkway towards the falls. It is only 0.6 kilometers (0.4 miles) to the falls. Saltos del Petrohué are no Iguazú Falls, but the view is extremely pretty, especially with Osorno Volcano in the distance. There is a bridge and platform to view the falls. After taking in the view, we walked downstream for a bit. This trail goes along the river and leads to another little waterfall in the woods. It is just over a mile round trip from the visitor’s center to the falls, down this portion of the trail, and back.

After exploring the area, we looped back to the visitor’s center and waited by the road for a bus. After 40 minutes, we were about ready to start walking to Lago Todos Los Santos, but one eventually arrived.

Views along the trail below the falls
Views along the trail below the falls

Lago Todos Los Santos

Lago Todos Los Santos also sits in Vicente Pérez Rosales National Park. We visited on a beautiful winter day in June, so it was pretty empty. But supposedly, this is a very popular spot to hang out in the summer. People come here to swim, boat, kayak, hike, fish, and more. There are plenty of tours that offer fishing excursions, treks, and more in the area if you are interested. Most of these tours can be booked in Puerto Varas and Puerto Montt.

You can also hike and explore the area on your own, but we suggest downloading maps beforehand. A popular hike in the area is Paso Desolación for a pretty view of Osorno Volcano and over the lake. Plenty of people also come here to just relax on the shores.

An old cabin floating on Lago Todos los Santos
An old cabin floating on Lago Todos Los Santos

We hopped off the bus at the beautiful Petrohué Lodge and walked towards the lake. Before returning to the port area to take a boat ride, we walked north along the shore for a ways to take in the views . We definitely recommend the boat because it is cheap, and the views of the lake and surrounding scenery are stunning! It costs $6-10 USD for a 30 minute ride around a portion of the lake and you may be able to get a discount for a group. In the summer, it may cost a little more than in the winter. Aside from the stunning blue water and snowcapped peaks, we also saw an old floating cabin that we thought was pretty unique!

There was only one other visitor from Santiago on the boat with us. We ended up make friends with him and ended our excellent day exploring by grabbing a drink with him back in Puerto Varas before heading back to Puerto Montt.

Docked boats that can take you out on Lago Todos Los Santos
Docked boats that can take you out on Lago Todos Los Santos

What to Bring when Visiting Saltos del Petrohué & Lago Todos Los Santos

Cash: We paid for everything this day in cash. It is best to carry smaller denominations of Chilean pesos to pay for bus rides because they may not be able to break large bills and only take cash. The boats tours also only took cash and we aren’t sure if you can pay using card at the Saltos del Petrohué visitor’s center.

Park Pass: If you purchased your park pass online beforehand, make sure you bring the pass with you.

Comfortable walking shoes: Not a lot of walking is required on this trip. However, the trails at the Saltos del Petrohué can get a bit wet, so it is best to have good tread. If you want to do a longer hike in the area, bring proper hiking shoes.

A chilly, but sunny winter day on the lake
A chilly, but sunny winter day on the lake

Layers: Even on sunny days, winds can make it a little chilly. Bring a warmer layer, especially if you choose to head out onto the lake on a boat. Packing a rain jacket is a good idea too.

Water: Facilities are limited, especially in the winter, so it’s best to bring your own water.

Food: If you make a day trip out of this excursion, bring snacks or a packed lunch! You can also grab lunch at the lodge restaurant near the lake.

Camera: This is a stunning place to take some photos

Looking back at the lodge with Osorno towering above it
Looking back at the lodge with Osorno towering above it

Thoughts on Visiting Saltos del Petrohué & Lago Todos Los Santos

Saltos del Petrohué is a pretty popular place to visit among those traveling to the Lagos Region. While the waterfalls are truly beautiful, we highly recommend adding another activity to your day if you are going to take the time and effort to make it out to the falls. If you take a tour, many companies combine this with another activity. We really enjoyed combining this with a laid back afternoon at Lago Todos Los Santos, but there are many options and activities in the area.

If you want to do some extensive exploring in and around Vicente Pérez Rosales National Park, check out some of the accommodation around Petrohué on the shores of the lake. There are also camping and accommodation options near Ensenada and plenty of accommodations in Puerto Varas.

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