Bordering Argentina, this pint-sized orchard town occupies the windy southern shore of Lago General Carrera. A sunny microclimate makes it a pleasant oasis on the steppe. It is linked to Chile by ferry or a roller-coaster road. Locals who traditionally earned their living from raising livestock and farming turned to gold and silver mining. With the mines set to close, many are jumping into tourism.
Hikers shouldn't miss the Reserva Nacional Lago Jeinimeni, 60km away, with solitary treks in an arid wonderland of flamingo-filled, turquoise mountain lagoons. Travelers can cross easily to Los Antiguos, Argentina, and onward to Ruta 40 and points south.