The Lake District's altitude descends sharply from the towering peaks of the Andes on the Argentine border to forests and plains and finally to sea level, all in the space of about 200 km (120 mi). Throughout the region, big volcanoes burst into view alongside the many large lakes and winding rivers. Architecture and gastronomy here are unlike anywhere else in Chile, much of it heavily influenced by the large-scale German colonization of the 1850s and '60s. The Pan-American Highway (Ruta 5) runs straight down the middle, making travel to most places in the region relatively easy. It connects the major cities of Temuco, Osorno, and Puerto Montt, but bypasses Valdivia by 50 km (30 mi). A drive from Temuco to Puerto Montt should take less than four hours. Flying between the hubs is a reasonable option. The region also now has a passenger train connecting Temuco and Puerto Montt, as well as many towns in between.
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