Tour companies and outfitters have changed ownership over the past few years, but, thankfully, many have matured and I can now recommend several with a clear conscience. Aquamotion Expediciones, San Pedro 422 (tel. 65/232747; fax 65/235938; www.aquamotion.cl), is a professional, competent operation with a bilingual staff that can organize trekking, rafting the Petrohué, horseback riding, canyoneering, journeys to Chiloé, and much more. They also custom-plan excursions and offer packages that include accommodations; and they are better than their competition, CTS, across the street. Tranco Expediciones, San Pedro 422 (tel./fax 65/311311), and Aquamotion Expediciones both offer ascents of Volcano Osorno, for about $180 (£120) for two, which includes gear, lunch, and transportation.
For city tours and sightseeing tours around the Lake District, including trips to Frutillar, Puyehue, and Chiloé, try Andina del Sud, Del Salvador 72 (tel. 65/232811; fax 65/232511; www.andinadelsud.com). Andina del Sud is the company that provides boat excursions on Lago Todos los Santos and the Chilean leg of the lake crossing to Argentina.
For sightseeing trips to Bariloche via road, contact LS Travel, San José 130, Puerto Varas (tel. 65/232424; www.lstravel.com).
Boating -- During the summer, it is possible to rent kayaks and canoes at the pier, located near the main plaza. For a sailing cruise around Lago Llanquihue, try Motovelero Capitán Haase (tel. 65/235120; fax 65/235166; www.teambuilding.cl). The amicable owner and captain offers one daily cruise aboard his "antique" yacht (built in 1998 to resemble a turn-of-the-20th-century boat) using antique designs. You can't miss it moored in the bay. "Sunset with the Captain," from 6:30 to 9:30pm, is a quiet, romantic trip using sails and no motor; the cost is $20 (£13) per person, which includes an open bar. Inquire about charters if you have a large group.
Fishing -- This region is very popular for fly-fishing, principally along the shores of Río Puelo, Río Maullín, and Río Petrohué -- but there's fish in the lake, too. The best and most exclusive fishing expeditions are offered to guests at the Yan Kee Way Lodge. There's also Gray's Fly-Fishing Supplies, which has two shops, at San José 192 and San Francisco 447 (tel. 65/310734; www.grayfly.com). Gray's is a central hub for information, gear, and fishing licenses, and they can arrange day trips for river and lake fishing. Another good option for day trips is Adriazola Fly Fishing, Santa Rosa 340 (tel. 65/233477; www.adriazolaflyfishing.com). The owner, Adrian, will custom-arrange any fly-fishing and trolling day tour with a bilingual guide. Both outfitters charge around $140 (£93) for a half-day and $300 (£200) for a full day (for two guests, including transportation, boat, lunch, wine, and fishing guides).
The exclusive, full-service Río Puelo Lodge (tel. 2/229-8533 in Santiago; fax 2/201-8042; www.riopuelolodge.cl) caters to fly-fishermen and hunters, but also offers horseback riding, boat rides, water-skiing, and more. The stately wood-and-stone lodge is tucked well into the backcountry on the shore of Lago Tagua Tagua, and it caters mainly to groups of guys who come to have fun in the backcountry. Packages average around $350 (£233) per person per day, including meals, an open bar, guide, boats, horseback riding, trekking, and use of a heated pool. Ask about discounts for groups.
Horseback Riding -- Campo Aventura, San Bernardo 318, Puerto Varas (tel./fax 65/232910; www.campo-aventura.com), offers horseback riding year-round, leaving from their well-designed camp in Valle Cochamó, south of the national park. Both day and multiday trips can be planned with the outfitters, with lodging in rustic shelters they have set up along the trail. Gear and bilingual guides are provided, and multiday trips are all-inclusive. Other tour companies, such as Aquamotion (tel. 65/232747; www.aquamotion.cl), offer day horseback-riding trips in Vicente Pérez Rosales National Park, among other areas. Horseback riding through a forested area is a good option for a rainy day -- just throw on a waterproof jacket and pants, and let the horse walk through the mud for you.
Kayaking -- Ko'Kayak, a small outfit run by French kayak enthusiasts, is the best choice for kayaking both for the day and for multiday kayak/camping trips. They have a base in Ensenada at Km 40, but make a reservation at their main office at Casilla 898 (tel. 65/511648 or 9/310-5672; www.kokayak.com).
Rafting -- Few rivers in the world provide rafters with such stunning scenery as the Río Petrohué, with frothy green waters that begin at Lago Todos los Santos and end at the Reloncaví Estuary. Rafters are treated to towering views of the volcanoes Osorno and Puntiagudo. The river is Class III and suitable for nearly everyone, but there are a few rapids to negotiate with sudden bursts of heavy paddling, so timid travelers might consult with their tour agency before signing up. For rafting, go to AlSur Expediciones, Del Salvador 100 (tel. 65/232300; www.alsurexpeditions.com).