Chile's World Class Yan Kee Way Lodge
by Larry Larsen
n the middle of nowhere. Best value for your dollar. Culturally and environmentally beautiful. Safe and easy to visit. There are many more descriptive phrases for Yan
Kee Way Lodge in Southern Chile. Bottom line, you should include Yan Kee Way in the list of places you must visit in your lifetime.
We have been fortunate to have visited the resort twice. In December 2000, we had scheduled a half day to visit this resort to go trout fishing during a brief cruise ship stop.
We were so impressed with the facilities that we promised we would return someday. That trip occurred in September 2006.
Puerto Montt is only a 1 ½ flight south of Santiago, the capital of Chile. Upon arrival by air or ship, the Yan Kee Way
Lodge transportation is waiting to take you on the 1 hour scenic drive to the lodge. The facility gets its name from the lake - Llanquihue - a native word meaning "submerged place."
Yan Kee Way Lodge is located in the southeast corner of the lake, in a small bay or "Ensenada" which was
once the port of Ensenada, and now is a small village with the same name. The Lodge location is unique;
undoubtedly the only place in the world like it. The impressive focal point, Volcano Osorno, at the waters' edge, forms the northeastern shoreline of the bay. It is
one of, if not the only place in the world, where one can see a volcano in a stand-alone setting. The most similar comparisons are Mt. Fuji in Japan and Mt. Rainier in
Washington State. Unlike other volcanoes, Osorno is not lost amidst a surrounding mountain range. One can see precisely where this 8,730-foot tall volcano begins and ends.
Yan Kee Way is open year round, with summer high season from December to early March. From the end of April to end of October, it's winter and the "off season",
but during this time, the lodge is still a beautiful place to visit. Guests then get preferential treatment when visiting the popular areas nearby because there are fewer people.
The lodge features bungalows and chalets. Bungalows are two-story units with a single bed in a loft and a
double and single bed in the main bedroom, one full bathroom, a large walk-in closet with a safe, a living area
with sofa, table and chairs. And that's where the similarity to any other place ends. For starters, the
environment immediately gives you a sense of calm. The doorways are handcarved from Chilean hardwoods and complement the wooden beams. The décor features textured walls and hardwood floors in the living area
with leather and handcrafted furniture. The artwork is original, depicting ancient hieroglyphics.
The carpeted bedroom offers plush comfortable beds with goose down comforters. The full bath features large fluffy towels and bathrobes. Central heating takes the chill off
the cool early spring and late fall mornings. It's a pleasure returning to these accommodations after a full day of on-site, lake, river or mountain activities!
If you need even more space, chalets are also available. These 1,400-sq.ft. accommodations feature two full
bedrooms, each with its own private bath. The shared living area and full kitchen provide additional amenities
. Large windows in all the guest rooms make it easy to enjoy the beautiful peaceful forested environment.
So, maybe one day you just want to relax. Head to the spa, where a wood-burning sauna awaits you. There are two saunas, informally one for men and
one for women. Afterwards, step outside the sauna and slip into a hot tub to enjoy the scenic view of the volcano. The hot tub, also wood-heated, is in the shape of a giant wine barrel and there is
no way to avoid relaxing in this setting. The deck is glass-enclosed to protect guests from the wind, but a small opening above the glass enclosure lets you feel the crystal clear air. Massage rooms and a
fitness room are also available, in case you don't get enough exercise during your stay.
The reception area has a large library, including a computer with internet access (forget I said that). A large
-screen TV offers satellite channels. The homey feeling of this lounge area and large fireplace is unavoidable.
This is where you can play cards, enjoy a drink while watching the sunset and just reflect without interruption.
The food and wine alone make Yan Kee Way Lodge THE place to visit. We cannot say enough about the quality of the food, the service and the wine selections. Latitude
42 Restaurant has achieved a reputation of its own, outside of being part of the Lodge. Locals know this is the place to come to for a most special experience.
Walking into the dining area is only the beginning. You are greeted by the warm, cozy ambiance of a large fireplace, handcarved artwork, and picture windows
overlooking the lake and the volcano. If you are staying at Yan Kee Way Lodge on an adventure package, most
of your meals are included. However, this does not mean that the quality of the food is any less. In fact, it equals or exceeds the quality of most five-star resorts
that we have visited around the world.
It's no surprise to learn that the Yan Kee Way Chef, Guillermo Munoz, is an award-winning individual who recently earned first place at a competition in China and
a chance to compete in a world competition in Turkey. Whether it is a five course dining experience or a box lunch, he is involved in every meal that is prepared for
the guests, and it shows. During our stay, a typical "parrillada" (barbeque) of fresh lamb was prepared on the round outdoors barbeque, which is also a sundial,
celestial calendar and compass when it's not being used for cooking.
"Taste of Yan Kee Way"
Salmon seasoned with blend of herbs, served with toast.
A selection of red meat on a
Chateau Los Boldos Latitude 42, Merlot 2005
Yan Kee Way smoked Salmon with greens from our organic garden
Served with baby lettuce, honey
dressing and toast
Ramirana Chardonay/Sauvignon Blanc Reserve 2005
Asian Chicken Broth
Served with vegetables, rice noodles and quail egg
Emiliana Oranico Charnonnay
Austral Hake baked with assorted dry fruit
Served over a parsley risotto, fava beans and tomatoes
Anakena Viognier Reserve
Sorbet, featuring fresh rosemary from our organic garden
Lomo Vetado Yan Kee Way Lodge
New York strip with spinach stuffed tomatoes, onion rings and potatoes with sour cream
Macul Finis Terrae Cabernet / Merlot 1996
Undurraga Late Harvest, 2003
Coffee, espresso or herbal
tea from our organic garden
Most travelers recognize that the people you meet along the way can make or break the enjoyment of a destination. That virtually guarantees you a most
enjoyable stay at Yan Kee Way. Paul Kinney, born in the U.S., has been the general manager since the mid 1980's.
"We have a great group of staff members," he says. "Many of them have been here over 8 years and others for 2 or 3, but we like to promote from within. For
example, Pablo, our sommelier, started here 10 years ago as a laborer. Through the years he worked his way up and eventually became a waiter. He expressed
interest in the wine so we sent him to sommelier school and he enjoyed that very much. So now he is in charge of our wine department."
The majority of the Yan Kee Way employees have learned English in order to better communicate with guests, which are primarily from the U.S. The ones who
drive guests to/from activities and the airport have been sent to professional driving schools in order to obtain the proper licenses. The maintenance and
carpenter staff have also attended training courses to get them certified for boating captains licenses, so they can also help in that area.
As if the facilities, staff and dining weren't enough, Yan Kee Way also has an excellent location for enjoying all that the area offers.
Its location on the lake is perfect for numerous water-based activities. Fishing, either trolling or with fly or spinning reel, is easily scheduled. Just walk down to the beach and get on
the boat. Fishing is also scheduled on the nearby Petrohué River, Blanco River, San Antonio River, Concha River, Maullín River or Todos Los Lake. These fishing grounds provide you
with the chance to catch a record size wild resident trout, including rainbows, browns, and, in the fall, Atlantic, Silver and Chinook salmon.
The lodge has all the equipment, including the insulated paddling jackets, helmets, spray skirts, dry bags, etc.
Guests are always accompanied by a guide, and a safety boat is anchored at the shore. This is helpful if a
single kayaker, for example, gets tired. The guide maintains constant radio communication and can always get assistance.
Two types of kayaking are offered, one is a very easy one right on the lake which takes about 2-3 hours. Single and double
kayaks are available to take guests from the lodge across the lake towards the salmon farm, then bordering the northern shore of the lake below the volcano, into some scenic coves and
back towards the lodge. The more physical trip on the roaring river nearby into the ocean lasts all day. Equipment and guests are taken by vehicle to a put-in point in the southern part of the
Petrohue River to kayak southwards towards the ocean. This trip offers spectacular views of Lake Llanquihue and the volcanoes Osorno, Puntiagudo, Tronador and Calbuco.
The first part of the all day trip is very easy and enjoyable; the river current takes the kayak, and you only have to control it with the paddle or the rudder. The lodge
prepares a picnic lunch, and the group often stops a private home where guests can sit indoors, relax, use
the facilities and have some hot coffee or chocolate. It also gives guests an opportunity to meet some of the
local folks and get a better idea of Chilean life. If everyone still has the energy to continue, then the kayak
trip continues out to the ocean where the waves can be a little tougher but the scenery is spectacular
One of the top popular activities for Yan Kee Way guests is mountain biking, according to Lodge guide Ricardo Jeldres.
"We have different levels of mountain bike tours, from the most basic to the technical level," he says. "The basic ones are one or two hours, and we
generally go towards Petrohue Falls. We are always accompanied by a vehicle so that in case a guest gets tired, or they prefer to not continue, we have that
vehicle a distance behind us with radio communications. We always look for alternative routes so that the guest is entertained …but it's always at the guest
request. We also have the downhill ride from the volcano. We take guests and bikes in the vehicle, take some pictures at the top and then ride downhill and it's
much better now because much of the road is now paved and not all volcanic hard-pan rock."
"For the expert biker, we can go to Solitary Trail, about 5KM which is quite technical," he continues. "The most extreme level of mountain biking is behind
the Osorno Volcano, a trail that goes between two volcanoes and takes several hours."
It's a difficult choice where to begin. You can enjoy some unique activities in the area (see our related article Chile Lakes District Passions and Activities) or you
can schedule a large choice of half-day or full day activities such as photo safari, canyoning, river rafting, village tours, and much more.
We didn't get to do it all. We have to go back!