Torres del Paine National Park

Saltos del Petrohue Waterfalls

Saltos del Petrohue cascades

Saltos del Petrohue, one of the tourist icons not to be missed when visiting the Tenth Region of Chile. Petrohue is a group of cascades belonging to the homonymous river, in Vicente Perez Rosales National Park, with an area of 253,780 hectares, the oldest in Chile, created in 1926.

The site has well-built bridges and footbridges that allow visitors to admire the beauty of the cascades and the surrounding nature. The average water flow of the falls is 270 m3 per second, but it can be much larger during the rainy season. The watercourse originates in Lake Todos los Santos and flows into the Reloncaví estuary, after traveling some 36 kilometers. Petrohué is an exceptional place to enjoy nature and activities such as hiking, rafting, kayaking, fishing or photography. 


Best time to visit Petrohue, Climate

The best time to visit Saltos del Petrohué is during the summer months, between December and March in the Southern Hemisphere. This period offers mild temperatures, about 19 °C on average, with a daily maximum of around 25°C (77°F). which makes it ideal for exploring the area and performing all the activities involved in this type of tourism.

The place has a temperate-rainy climate, and the vegetation is abundant and evergreen, not based on high temperatures but on the climate. During the summer months, the climate is mild, with an average daily maximum temperature of around 25°C (77°F). 

The rainiest months in the area are June, July, and August, while the least rain is recorded in January, February, and March. However during the winter, is when the river flow increases and the cascades are even more beautiful. 

The river and its surroundings  

The origin of the Petrohue River dates back to the retreat of the glaciers and the formation of the Osorno volcano.  Primitively, the entire area was one large lake, but the repeated eruptions of nearby volcanoes divided this large lake into two, forming what we know today as the Llanquihue and Todos los Santos lakes. The Petrohue River would become the only natural drainage of Todos los Santos, giving rise to one of the most beautiful watersheds in Los Lagos Tenth Region.
The renowned cascades were formed about 600 years ago by the accumulation of lava rocks from the eruption of the nearby Osorno volcano, one of the most active volcanoes in Chile. As in all of southern Chile, vegetation is abundant and evergreen, not based on high temperatures but on a Temperate-Rainy Climate.   

The viewpoints of the Saltos del Petrohué are visited by more than 600 thousand people a year, making Vicente Perez Rosales the most popular National Park in the country.

Excursions in Petrohue
There are multiple excursions available from the neighboring cities of Puerto Montt, Puerto Varas and Osorno, also many of the tourists who make the route to the Argentine tourist city of San Carlos de Bariloche stop here to enjoy the wonderful views. 


How to Get There

The main nearby cities are Puerto Montt, 78 km. away, Osorno 112 km. and Puerto Varas 61 km.  By bus or car from the city of Puerto Varas, bound for the towns of Ensenada/ Saltos de Petrohue. Access to the place is through Route 225. Along the way, you can see the landscape of the evergreen forest, Llanquihue Lake, Calbuco and Osorno Volcanoes.


Petrohué Waterfalls and surrounding area provide a wide range of excursions that cater to the interests and activity levels of all visitors, making it an ideal destination for nature lovers and outdoor enthusiasts. 

The most striking feature of Los Saltos del Petrohué is its cascade of turquoise waters that run between rock formations of volcanic lava. These waters come from Lake Todos los Santos and flow through the Petrohué River, creating an amazing audiovisual spectacle. The intensity of the water color is truly impressive and is due to the minerals it carries from the glaciers in the Andes Mountains.

One of the main activities is the 15-20 minutes boat trip on the choppy waters of the river visiting the falls, however, the navigation is safe, carried out by professionals. 

Hiking Trails: The area features several hiking trails that allow visitors to explore the natural surroundings and enjoy the stunning views of the waterfalls. The trails vary in length and difficulty, catering to both casual strollers and experienced hikers.

Interpretive Trails: In addition to hiking trails, there are interpretive trails that provide information about the local flora, fauna, and geology. These trails offer a more educational experience for visitors interested in learning about the natural history of the area.

Excursions to Nearby Attractions: Visitors can also take excursions to nearby attractions such as Laguna Verde, Cascada de Los Novios, and Rincón del Osorno. These excursions allow visitors to explore the diverse landscapes and natural wonders of the region.

Volcano Tours: For more adventurous travelers, there are excursions to explore the nearby Volcán Osorno. These tours offer the opportunity to hike to the summit of the volcano and enjoy panoramic views of the surrounding area.

Water Activities: The Petrohué River and Lake Todos los Santos offer opportunities for water activities such as rafting, kayaking, and fishing. These activities allow visitors to experience the natural beauty of the area from a different perspective. 

As mentioned, in the place, as well as within the Vicente Perez Rosales National Park, there is a good number of trails (Spanish "senderos") to enjoy the magnificent environment. The following is a list of trails within the Vicente Perez Rosales National Park, published by CONAF (National Forestry Corporation of Chile):

Sendero Saltos del Petrohué, recreational, 600 mts., of easy access and suitable for all public, 30 minutes
Sendero Laguna de Los Enamorados, recreational, 900 mts., 45 minutes
Sendero Laguna Verde, recreational, 180 mts., 20 minutes
Sendero Cascada de los Novios, recreational, 400 mts., 25 minutes
Sendero Los Pilleyos, recreational, 1200 mts., 45 minutes 
Sendero Carilemu, interpretative trail, with a length of 1200 mts. and it is covered in approximately 45 minutes
Paso Desolación, excursion of 10 km., 6 hours
Rincón del Osorno, excursion of 5 km., 4 hours
El Solitario, excursion of 6 km., 2 hours
Laguna Margarita, excursion of 8 km., 8 hours
Termas del Callao, excursion of 8 km, 5 hours
Los Alerzales, excursion of 3,4 km, 4 hours
Cayutue, excursion of 25 km, 5 hours
Cerro Rigi, excursion of 8 km, 5 hours
Paso Vuriloche, excursion of 40 km, 5 days (on horseback)
Volcan Osorno, excursion of 6 km, 10 hours

For sport fishing lovers, Petrohue river runs along one of the most privileged settings in southern Chile. Surrounded by lush forests in all its extension, the river is born from Lago Todos Los Santos, and after a 36  km. travel, it flows into the Seno de Reloncavi, near the city of Puerto Montt.
The water courses of this part of Chile are famous for the Trout and Patagonian Salmon fishing.

Learn more about the south of Chile....