Planning a Trip
By Plane -- El Tepual airport (PMC; tel. 65/294161) is almost equidistant from Puerto Montt and Puerto Varas; it's about 25km (16 miles) from the airport to Puerto Varas. A taxi from the airport costs between $15 and $22 (£10-£15), or you can arrange a transfer with ETM, by either calling ahead or approaching their booth at the airport (tel. 32/294294). They charge $20 (£13) for a car for a maximum of three people. Because there are fewer flights here, there normally are a few people waiting for a transfer, so the price can drop if there are others. LANExpress serves the El Tepual airport with nine daily flights from Santiago. Sky Airline (tel. 600/600-2828; www.skyairline.cl) also has three daily flights to El Tepual airport. Ask your hotel about a transfer shuttle, as many include one in their price.
By Bus -- The following buses offer service to and from major cities in southern Chile, including Santiago: Buses Cruz del Sur, San Francisco 1317 and Walker Martínez 239 (tel. 65/236969 or 65/231925); and Buses Tas Choapa, Walker Martínez 320 (tel. 65/233831). Buses Tas Choapa and the Argentine company Andesmar, Walker Martinez 320 (tel. 65/233831; www.andesmar.com.ar), have service to Bariloche, Argentina (Tas Choapa Thurs-Sun; Andesmar on Mon, Wed, and Fri). Bus Norte, Walker Martínez 239, has daily service to Bariloche (tel. 65/236969).
By Car -- Puerto Varas is just 20km (12 miles) north of Puerto Montt and 88km (55 miles) south of Osorno via the Panamericana. There are two exits leading to Puerto Varas, and both deposit you downtown. To get to Frutillar, you need to get back on the Panamericana, go north, and take the exit for that town. There is about a $1.25 (85p) toll to enter the off-ramp, and another toll for about $2 (£1.30) to enter Puerto Montt.
By Bus -- Buses Cruz del Sur offers transportation to Chiloé and nearly 20 daily trips to Puerto Montt, leaving from an office in Puerto Varas, at Walker Martínez 239 (tel. 65/236969 or 65/231925). There are also cheap minibuses that leave frequently from the corner of Del Salvador and San Pedro across from the pet shop, leaving you at the bus terminal in Puerto Montt. You'll also find minibuses at San Bernardo and Walker Martínez that go to Ensenada, Petrohué, and Lago Todos los Santos every day at 9:15, 11am, 2, and 4pm. Andina del Sud, Del Salvador 72 (tel. 65/232811; fax 65/232511; www.andinadelsud.com), has daily trips to this area as well.
By Car -- Renting a car is perhaps the most enjoyable way (but also the most expensive) to see the surrounding area. In town, try Adriazola Turismo Expediciones, Santa Rosa 340 (tel. 65/233477; www.adriazolaflyfishing.cl); Hunter Rent a Car, San José 130 (tel. 9/920-6888; www.lstravel.com); or Travel Sur at San José 261 (tel. 65/236000; www.travelsur.com), though prices are lower at the airport.
The Casa del Turista tourism office can be found at the pier on the shore (tel. 65/237956; www.puertovaras.org) and is open daily from December to March from 9am to 10pm, and the rest of the year daily from 9am to 1:30pm and 3 to 7pm.
Travel Sur exchanges dollars at its office on San José 261 (tel. 65/236000).