Puerto Varas is in the Chilean lake district across the Andes from Bariloche and the Argentinian lake district. It sits on the southern edge of Lago Llanquihue and offers commanding views of the iconic, snow-capped Osorno Volcano [the cone shaped volcano at sunset below] as well as Calbuco Volcano. It is in the heart of the German settled part of Chile [the government gave heavy incentives to Germans back in the mid 1800's to tame the land] and retains a distinct German character but it is not a land of tall, handsome, blond, blue-eyed folks. Unfortunately it doesn't seem to have any of the delicious German food either. It is a cute village of mostly wood structures on a hilly slope on a beautiful lake. It has a small mountain-town feel to it with one very large Asian “mas barato” store that has almost everything you could image. Historically it has been a major agricultural center and port and still is today with a healthy dose of tourism added in.
You can cross the Andes from Puerto Varas to Bariloche in Argentina. You can drive [we took the bus] or you can go via bus, boat, bus, boat, bus, boat, bus which we did on the return. It rained during most of the bus trip making what would have been an interesting trip with nice views not so great. The bus/boat multi-combo deal, on the other hand, was special. Most of the bus portions are on dirt roads through the mountains connecting the boat rides across picture-perfect mountain lakes. The ever-unfolding landscape of mountains, rivers and lakes as you climb up one side and down the other side of the Andes is both breathtaking and exhilarating.