During a South American cruise, travelers who love natural scenery won't want to miss a shore excursion to Puerto Montt. This Chilean town is the gateway to the country's Lake District, a region that has been likened to the mountainous terrain of Switzerland.
With a population of 130,000, this destination is ideal for those who want to appreciate both the atmosphere of a small town and the majesty of Chile's towering mountains. The friendly people of the region are sure to welcome you, as they are eager to share their culture. In Puerto Varas, you can explore the so-called "city of roses" as you check out the famous local handicraft fair. Meanwhile, you will learn more about rural Chilean life when you visit Fundo Olguita, a traditional farm that raises horses.
The German heritage of the Lake District is on full display in Frutillar. In this charming village, you can see timber buildings with gabled roofs, sample authentic kuchen and learn about the area's early immigrants at the German Settlers Museum.
The true star of a visit to Puerto Montt, however, is its amazing natural landscape. Towering over the town's skyline is the massive Osorno Volcano, an imposing snow-capped peak that dominates views from the city center. This mountain is a fun destination at any time of year, hosting skiers in the winter and hikers in the summer.
If you would rather have an aquatic adventure, visit the Petrohue River. At this rushing stream, you will walk across catwalks until you get to the magnificent Petrohue Falls, where you can see a crashing waterfall set against a backdrop of the nearby volcano. For a more serene experience, you can relax on a cruise on Lake Llanquihue or Lake Esmerelda.