The Most Active Volcanoes of Chile

Scenic but also active, here are the most important volcanoes in Chile.

Chile, San Pedro de Atacama, Licancabur volcano at sunset
Licancabur volcano at sunset in San Pedro de Atacama, Chile. Getty Images/ricardomartinez

Volcano fans will find dozens, dormant or active, to study and photograph in Chile. Hundreds of volcanoes stud the Andes from north to south, along the Bolivian and Argentine borders, rising snow-crested from the desert floor to forested mountain.

According to Global Volcanism Program, "Chile has the region's largest number of historically active volcanoes, with 36 (ranking it 5th among nations, behind Russia's 52 and ahead of Iceland's 18)."

There are 123 active volcanoes in Chile, with the most recent volcano activity coming from Calbuco Volcano near Puerto Montt, which erupted for over a week in April 2015 creating a large ash cloud and forcing an evacuation. It is the most active volcano of the northern Chilean Andes, Copahue, Argentina and Chile near Neuquen, Argentina and Villarica in the Lake District.

Three of Chile's most watched and historically active volcanoes, Cerro Azul, Cerro Hudson, and Villarrica, are composite volcanoes—sometimes called stratovolcanoes.

"They are typically steep-sided, symmetrical cones of large dimension built of alternating layers of lava flows, volcanic ash, cinders, blocks, and bombs and may rise as much as 8,000 feet above their bases."

Which Volcanoes are Safe to Climb?

When you're in Chile, admire and enjoy the scenic sights of many volcanoes. If you feel fit and brave enough, consider climbing an active one.

Climbers both novice and experienced enjoy testing their skills on the volcanos. Some of the preferred ones by geographical location are:

North/Altiplano

  • Parinacota
  • Licancabur
  • Ojos del Salado

Central Chile

  • Tupungato
  • Cajón del Maipo, for San José and Marmolejo volcanos

South/Patagonia

  • Puyehue
  • Villarrica, with care (This is a very active volcano!)

    Other volcanos to watch are LLaima and Puntiagudo. These are only a handful of the hundreds of Chilean volcanos. Some, like Maca, are little known.