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Tuesday, 04 March 2008

Sleeping in a Volcano: Chile's Magic Mountain Lodge

Written by Dale Fehringer
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Deep within Chile’s beautiful Lake District lies a small lodge shaped like a volcano, and furnished like a tree house, complete with every modern comfort. It’s called the Magic Mountain Lodge (La Montaña Magica), and it was our pleasure to stay there last November.

The Magic Mountain Lodge is located in the Huilo Huilo Biological Reserve, 500 miles south of Santiago, Chile. It is without a doubt one of South America’s most unique hotels. It’s not easy to get to, but that’s part of the adventure – past blue mountain streams and thundering waterfalls, and within view of snow-capped volcanoes.

The lodge itself is shaped like a mountain and rises out of the surrounding forest like something out of a fairy tale. The first sounds you hear are birds chirping and a waterfall running down the building’s side.

It’s a magical setting.

Magic Mountain Lodge (La Montaña Magica), Huilo Huilo Biological Reserve, Chile

The lodge, which was completed in 2005, was built exclusively with local wood and stone. It features nine cozy rooms around a central core, accessed via a wood-and-stone spiral staircase. Each room is named for a different local species of bird and decorated in a warm, natural mountain style. Rooms are furnished with rough-cut wooden walls and furniture, spacious well-equipped bathrooms, and comfortable beds. Large windows bathe the rooms with light and add warm tones to the wood.

The surrounding valleys, mountain slopes, and rainforests host a variety of activities and wildlife; including the spectacular Huilo Huilo falls, the longest zip line system in South America, year-round skiing, bird watching, and pudu, the world's smallest deer.

Services offered by the Magic Mountain Lodge compare with those of upscale U.S. hotels – certainly beyond what you would expect in the middle of a reserve in Chile. There is internet access, mini golf, a sauna, a cozy bar with audio-visual equipment, and even a modest amount of shopping in the lobby. Our favorite amenities were the hot tubs; made from hollowed out tree trunks, filled with hot water, and perched on a deck overlooking the forest – they served as a perfect place to enjoy a Pisco sour or glass of Chilean wine and relax at the end of the day.



The cozy restaurant in the Magic Mountain Lodge has a natural woodsy theme. It prepares first-rate fresh local specialties and serves excellent Chilean wines.

The Magic Mountain Lodge is located in Chile’s Valdivia province, 500 miles south of Santiago, on the road that connects Panguipulli with San Martin de los Andes (Argentina). The closest airports are Temuco (118 miles) and the small airfield at Choshuenco (nine miles). By car, you can access the park from the road that leaves Temuco and passes through Villarrica, Lican Ray, Coñaripe, and Neltume Lake, a distance of 106 miles.

Room prices at the Magic Mountain Lodge range from $138 to $182, a bargain for such an experience. Information and reservations are available by calling 63/197-2651; or on their Website, .

If you can’t get a reservation at the Magic Mountain Lodge, you might check next door, at the brand new Bao-Bab hotel, which is a partner of the Magic Mountain Lodge. The Bao-Bab is a 55-room up-scale hotel shaped like a tree house and built around a large tree. Either place will certainly make your list of most unique places you’ve stayed.

© Dale Fehringer

Dale Fehringer is a freelance writer and editor. His articles on people, places, and contemporary culture have been published in a variety of magazines and newspapers. He lives in San Francisco, where he can be reached at 415.602.6116 or by email at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

Last modified on Sunday, 16 December 2012

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