Michele here…way behind on the blogs due to super slow connections in some of the small towns we´ve been in Chile. So, where did we last leave off with our blogs? Oh yea, after hanging out in Puerto Natalas for a few days in the far (very cold) south of Chile, on April 16th, we caught a (3 hour) morning bus from Puerto Natalas to the larger town of Punta Arenas and then flew north to Puerto Montt. Once we landed in Puerto Montt, we took a bus to the central bus station and then transfered to another bus that was going to the town of Puerto Varas where we planned to stay for 3 nights.
Puerto Varas is a small town with a big church up on a hill. Here is a photo of the church at dusk on the night of Easter:
The town of Puerto Varas sits on Lago (Lake) Llanquihue with Volcano Osorno in the background. This picture was taken on the best day we had in terms of the weather. This is Mike with his crazy man look with the lake and volcano in the background.
There are only a few streets in this town and most of the buildings have wood interiors that remind us of ski lodges or log cabins.
Our first day in town we wanted to go hiking at the nearby national park, Parque National Vincente Perez Rosales but had trouble getting a bus. To be more specific, we heard that buses went from Puerto Varas to the national park about every 30 minutes and that we could catch a bus at the down town bus station. We went down to the main bus stop in town and waited about 30 minutes before a bus came to the bus stop but it was completely full. We waited another 30 minutes and a second bus came by but it was completely full also. We then waited 30 minutes more and didn´t see any bus going to the national park so we gave up. We decided to just walk around the town and do our grocery shopping for food for the next two days.
The following day it was raining but we didn´t care. We set out to go to the national park again only this time we waited at an earlier bus stop so we could get on the bus when it was less than full. This trick worked. Although it rained about half the time during our hike we were glad to get out and do something active. The national park is surrounded by volcanos (which we couldn´t see due to the clouds). Because of the surrounding volcanos, the walking trails and surrounding areas (including the beaches) are all made out of black volcanic sand. During our walk we saw some very interesting vegetation including this plant:
About half way through our walk we chose to walk down the middle of an ancient volcanic river bed. You can see how big this volcanic river must have been by looking at Mike in the middle of the picture:
At the end of our hike we found ourselves on a black sand beach. Again, you can see Mike with the red backpack walking in the distance. The lake is a beautiful color, which is probably difficult to see in this photo, and the surrounding hills are covered with lush green vegetation. There´s a reason it is so green. This area receives rain over 200 days each year (as was the case when we were there).
That night (April 18th) it was really storming in Puerto Varas so we decided that the next day we would head up north about 5 hours to a town called Pucon. We heard that the weather was better in Pucon so we planned to climb Pucon´s active volcano once we got there. On April 19th, we took a million-stop, 6 hour bus from Puerto Varas to Pucon. Unfortunately, the weather reports were wrong and there were worse storms in Pucon than in Puerto Varas. To make matters worse, the hostel we were staying in in Pucon lost power so at night it was cold and dark with pouring rain with high winds outside. We learned that the storm would continue while we were there so there would be no volcano climbing for us. We decided to leave Pucon and simply head back to Puerto Varas with the hopes that the weather may have cleared up there. So, the next night we took a 6 hour bus back to Puerto Varas only to find that not only was the weather not better but it was actually worse than when we had left (constant pouring rain and lots of wind). Then, keeping with our string of bad luck, Mike left his waterproof rain jacket, hat, and gloves on the bus.
The next morning (April 21) we headed down to the bus company and in Spanish Mike explained to them about the jacket. They told him that the same exact bus would be coming back tonight and that we should meet the bus at 9:30pm and look on the bus for the jacket. We spent the day at our hostel since it was raining all day. At night we met the bus and nope, no jacket. Sigh.
The next day Mike bought a new waterproof jacket for $150 – ouch! We were happy to take a taxi to the airport and fly outta this rainy Lake District (as it is called) farther north to Antofagasta. We spent one night there and the next day we took a 4.5 hour bus to San Pedro de Atacama – one of the driest places on the entire earth. Yes, it was very hot (over 90 degrees every day) and very dry (static electricity all the time) and we were happy about those thing! See our next couple of blogs for all the activities we did there.
Tags: Category #27: Chile