"Sobriety saves lives. I should know, it saved mine."
Support our intrepid team of Summit for Danny climbers as they hike through Chile. Each climber pays for their own trip expenses and fundraises a minimum of $1,500 for adolescent substance abuse treatment at the Daniel Bryant Youth and Family Center by asking their friends and family to support their climb.
Hikers from our Summit for Danny Team are scheduled to hike from January 8-14, 2024. Follow their journey through Chile, where trails lead into volcanic caves and glowing craters, through the untouched Coihue forest crisscrossed by glacial streams, wind past turquoise waterfalls, footbridges and breathtaking lookouts in the Parque Futangue, and end at Chile's oldest national park, the Vicente Perez Rosales National Park, at the base of the Osorno Volcano.
Hikers will began their trip at Villarica National Park with a private tour of the volcano's caves. Armed with a flashlight and helmet, the tour will begin with a descent toward the Earth's core. While passing otherworldly lava formations above, including stalactites, the guide will enlighten you on volcanology, how eruptions formed the caves and tales about the devastating 1971 eruption of the country's most active volcano. After a picnic lunch, we start our first hike with spectacular volcano and lake views where we will trek through a forest and ascend to a lava field with a row of ancient craters.
At day's end we check in to our home for the next two nights, Hotel Antumalal, set on the shores of Lake Villarica. This unique retreat features retro-futuristic architecture inspired by Frank Lloyd Wright and the Bauhaus movement, and it's hosted such illustrious visitors as Neil Armstrong, Emma Thompson and Queen Elizabeth II, to name a few. This evening we gather for a welcome reception and toast to an exciting week ahead. Then we sit down to a relaxing dinner of local specialties.
Hikers will begin their day with a hike exploring the high-altitude Andean lakes that sit in the shadow of the snow-capped Lanin Volcano, whose summit forms part of the border between Chile and Argentina. After the hike, relax at the beach of one those pristine lakes and enjoy some sopaipillas, a crunchy local treat similar to Native American fry bread.
Next we head to a local restaurant owned by a famous Mapuche woman, local community leader and reputable cook who shares the history, traditions and challenges that her community faces today. The Mapuche—the area's indigenous people—make up almost 10 percent of Chile's population and are the largest indigenous group in South America. Lunch is a true taste of Mapuche cooking, prepared with the ever-changing rainbow of whatever ingredients they can forage at the time. Darwin's mushrooms, Chilean bamboo, quinoa and edible seeds often end up the table, among others.
This morning a shuttle whisks us to the start of our hike at the base of Villarica Volcano. Starting on an abandoned dirt road, we begin our ascent through an untouched coihue forest crisscrossed by glacial streams until stands of magical araucaria (monkey puzzle) trees make their appearance. Higher up we discover lava fields with stunning 360-degree views of the region's majestic volcanoes.
Next, relax and enjoy the view from our shuttle ride to Parque Futangue, a remote private nature reserve on the edge of Ranco Lake, complete with virgin forests, lava fields, lakes, waterfalls, rivers and more than 62 miles of trails. Our home for the next two nights, Futangue Hotel & Spa, is set in the Riñinahue Valley within the reserve.
Today we set out to explore some of Parque Futangue's pristine terrain. Previously impenetrable, the park now has a trail system enabling access to its scenic corners. Our route winds past turquoise waterfalls, footbridges and breathtaking lookouts. As we traverse this remarkable environment, keep an eye out for the star of the show, the endangered Darwin's frog! We will then continue up to the 360-degree vistas to take in the surrounding volcanoes and lakes and, on a clear day, the granite peaks of Argentina in the distance.
In the evening we meet up for a Chilean wine tasting paired with an interactive empanada-making class! Once we're done playing in the kitchen, we let the cooks do the rest of the magic as we sit down to another delicious dinner before ending the night at Futangue Hotel & Spa.
We start the morning hiking along a river all the way to its source—the peaceful clear waters of Laguna Pichi, surrounded by tall cliffs covered with trees and waterfalls. From here we shuttle to the shores of Llanquihue Lake for a German Chilean feast at a ranch overlooking Osorno, a perfectly conical stratovolcano with a permanent ice cap on its summit.
After lunch we travel to our next hike near the slopes of Osorno, which takes us trekking along forests and dry riverbeds eroded by past eruptions. Forr the next two nights we will be staying at Hotel AWA, a modern property set on 50 acres with a private dock on Llanquihue Lake.
The last full day of our trip, we'll spend exploring the wild lands of Vicente Pérez Rosales National Park, Chile's oldest national park. You'll choose your adventure first thing in the morning, as those hiking the long option take an early shuttle deep into the park to tackle the breathtaking Paso la Desolación trail, home to pumas and pudús. Following the base of Osorno Volcano, we hike through volcanic ash, forest and fields with epic views. A descent leads us to the emerald waters and dark volcanic sand of Todos los Santos Lake, bordering the Andes.
Those who prefer a longer morning at the hotel will take a later (and shorter) shuttle around lunchtime and join the route at Todos los Santos Lake. Enjoy the spectacular views across the water to the majestic volcano of Cerro Tronador. From here we hike through the forest to return to the trailhead and a short shuttle back to our hotel. We stretch our legs along the way with a stop at lovely Petrohué Falls, where boardwalks and bridges allow us to contemplate the water as it thunders between volcanic rocks.
Capping off an incredible day, we gather for a cocktail-making class where we try our hand at Chile's favorite libation—the pisco sour—followed by our farewell reception and dinner at the hotel's restaurant, celebrating our journey.
Before saying our farewells we enjoy a last taste of the more domestic side of the Lake District at a farm complex with a delightful cottage garden, cafeteria and ice cream shop in the old colonial farmhouse. The stars of the show are the grazing Jersey cows; on your way out you may want to pick up some of the homemade products made on site with their milk, such as cheese or indulgent manjar (dulce de leche), a South American favorite.
Our wonderful Chilean journey ends with a shuttle back into town, dropping you off at Hotel Cumbres in Puerto Varas or at El Tepual International Airport in Puerto Montt.