In this guide, you will find our experience and a complete guide to visit the Lanalhue Lake, Cañete, and Lebu, in the Biobío Region, Chile. What to do in the Lanalhue Lake and its surroundings. Also, several tips to make your visit perfect.
Chile has an infinity of landscapes, colors, and attractions; we can find from trekking to volcanoes, ski centers, beaches, lakes, desert, and forests. In the Bio Bio region, in the south of Chile, is beautiful and calm lake between the cities of Contulmo and Cañete: the Lanalhue Lake (in mapudungun: lanallwe, “place of souls in pain”). Nearby you can also find the coastal town of Lebu, popular for its waves and ideal for practicing sports like surf and bodyboard.
The Lanalhue lake is quite popular among locals for summer holidays, but it also offers several other activities such as hiking and trekking in the surroundings. Here we tell you about our trip to the area.
- 1 What to do in the Lanalhue Lake and its surroundings
- 2 Important information to plan your trip to the Lanalhue Lake.
- 2.1 Best time to go to the Lanalhue Lake
- 2.2 How to get to the Lanalhue Lake
- 2.3 Why travel to Lake Lanalhue
- 2.4 What to bring when visiting the Lanalhue Lake
- 2.5 How to move around the Lanalhue Lake and its surroundings.
- 2.6 Where to sleep in Lanalhue Lake
- 2.7 Where to eat in Lake Lanalhue
- 2.8 Shopping at Lake Lanalhue
- 2.9 Hazards in the area
What to do in the Lanalhue Lake and its surroundings
The Lanalhue Lake
With 32.1 square kilometers, the Lanalhue lake extends between the cities of Cañete and Contulmo. You find around it forests of maníos and coigües that surround a beautiful bay with natural lake beaches.
- Water sports: The lake is very popular for practicing water sports especially in summer. You can practice water skiing, wakeboarding, kayaking, rent jet skis and much more; besides bathing in its waters.
- Kepun Astronomical Observatory: Located in Quelen Tourist Center, this observatory works only on clear nights that can be confirmed a week in advance. Click here for more information. We do not visit it because of cloudy skies every day during our visit.
- Canopy: Some companies offer canopy during spring and summer. The places open its doors depending on the number of tourists in the area.
- Hiking and biking: There are some walking routes around the lake. We recommend having a guide if you want to get into the woods. You can also make bicycle routes, the biggest hotels have bikes for rent or free of charge.
Nahuelbuta National Park
Without a doubt one of the biggest attractions in the area. It is about 2 hours from the lake by car, passing through Cañete. You need a car with good traction for the end of the road, that due to the height can have high humidity and dirt on the road.
The “Piedra del Águila” viewpoint is very popular. To get there you have to walk between 30 minutes and 1 hour depending on the time of year, but the road is impressive because of the Araucarias that you can see around you. If you want more information about this park, read our post here.
The city is known for the Fort of Tucapel; that, truly, is in a very bad state of conservation. We only recommend visiting it if you have a lot of time. It’s free, and you can see some cannons in it.
One hour from the lake, this coastal city called Lebu is popular for lovers of surfing and waves. You can also find places like “Caves of Benavides” and “Parque del Carbón”. The latter has samples of machinery and buildings typical of the coal industry of the 80s.
Important information to plan your trip to the Lanalhue Lake.
Best time to go to the Lanalhue Lake
The best time to go to the Lanalhue Lake is during summer, from November to February. In this season there is less rain and the temperature between day and night has less oscillation. These also are the months with the highest temperatures of the year.
During the winter temperatures are quite low, so it is only recommended if you want to go mountaineering with a snowy landscape (May to September).
How to get to the Lanalhue Lake
In all the airports of Chile, there are alternatives for car rental. Many people prefer this option because the landscapes on the way to the south are very beautiful and you can stop at beaches and cities.
From Santiago, it takes between 7 and 8 hours to get here. The roads are in excellent condition and you can easily find gas stations.
The nearest airports are in Concepción and Temuco. Both are national, so if you are coming from another country you will need to stop over on Santiago. From this cities, you can rent a car or take a taxi/bus to the bus stations of Contulmo or Cañete, the closest cities to the Lanalhue lake.
The nearest bus station is in the city of Cañete, where popular companies such as Tur Bus and Pulman operate frequently at least once a day from Santiago, Concepción, Temuco, Los Angeles and other major cities in the country.
The value of a ticket from Santiago is around $20,000 Chilean pesos per person.
Why travel to Lake Lanalhue
Most people come to the area to enjoy the nature and tranquility outside of the big cities, while others want to do some trekking and mountaineering in the popular Nahuelbuta National Park. In the last one, you can find ancient Araucarias: huge trees with thick trunks. You can also do nautical activities in the lake or surf in Lebu (1 hour by car from Lanalhue).
What to bring when visiting the Lanalhue Lake
The south of Chile is always cold at night, even during summer. Be prepared with warm clothing independent of the time of the year you choose to visit this destination. If you came in winter and want to trek, you must also have technical and thermal clothing as it is highly likely to find snow in the area.
How to move around the Lanalhue Lake and its surroundings.
There is no doubt that the most comfortable way to move around the area is in your own car. You can rent one at nearby airports or travel from Santiago on it (7 to 8 hours away). This means of transport will give you the freedom to go out to eat in nearby cities at any time and enjoy your stay without schedules.
If you are not convinced, read here the advantages of renting a car abroad.
There are some tourist agencies in the cities of Cañete and Contulmo, so if you want to do guided tours the easiest way to get one is to ask directly for agencies recommendations in your hotel/hostel. This way, they will include picking you up and leaving you on your accommodation.
Although there are local buses, they are infrequent and there is not a very established schedule. You can ask at your accommodation for more information about where to take them and what the routes are.
Where to sleep in Lanalhue Lake
The area does not have a very advanced hotel development, which is why you can find mostly cabins and leases of furnished houses. Given the distance between the lake and nearby cities, having your own kitchen is an excellent alternative especially if you travel with family and kids.
If you are looking for something more luxurious, you can stay in some of the new hotels that have opened on the lake. One of them is “Quelen Tourist Center“. We stayed here in a double room, including breakfast, and we recommend it. You can read more of our experience here.
The is also “Complejo Pehuen“, cheaper and simpler rooms.
Where to eat in Lake Lanalhue
Hotels generally have their own restaurants, but you can still find some very good alternatives in nearby cities.
- Cañete: We want to highlight a restaurant that we find here, “La Sazon”. A fusion between traditional Chilean food with Mapuche food.
- Contulmo: Popular for its coffee shops.
- Capitan Pastene: +- 1 hour from Lanalhue is this small town of Italian immigrants, popular for its trattorias and pasta restaurants.
What to eat?
The Mapuche food is very popular in the area and, in general, a little spicy because the “merquén” is used a lot. Merquén is like dried chili with other spices and condiments.
Shopping at Lake Lanalhue
We did not find any shop or place that was worth mentioning. Something very popular is buying stems of Nalca (a plant in the area) for cooking and stone mortars. This you can find in small stands on the sides of the road between Cañete and Lake Lanalhue.
Hazards in the area
The lake is very safe, but a little further south the situation has become dangerous in recent years. The Chilean vs Mapuche conflict has led to some people burning cars and close roads as a form of protest against the system.
You will see a lot of police (police) on the roads, especially at the entrance to cities and towns.
The locals and people of the area recommend not visiting the south of the lake through internal roads, nor take these roads to the coast.
To be sure, it is always best to ask someone in the area where it is advisable to go, and where it best not to visit.