A German Town in Chile!

Trip Start Apr 27, 2009
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Trip End Apr 27, 2010


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Where I stayed

Flag of Chile  , Lake District,
Saturday, November 21, 2009

Had a slight delay on our border crossing into Chile because some people had to pay a fine for trying to take something they shouldn't over the border. Still didn't get near the 23 hour mark though....which I was very grateful for! On arrival in Puerto Varas I was surprised at the style of the town because it looks like a traditional German town complete with a church copied directly from one there. I heard a lot about Spanish and Italian immigrants to South America but didn't realise that the south of Chile was an area that many Germans had made their home. The persistent rain was actually more Scottish than German or Chilean though!

We only had one full day in Puerto Varas after our late arrival so I decided to forego the trip out to Chiloe Island and instead went with a couple of other members of the group to the waterfalls called Saltos de Petrohue on the local bus. On a bit of a tangent - I loved the local buses, they were really small and run down and not particularly comfy but they were quite cute and if you were standing at the side of the road the driver would beep his horn to ask if you wanted him to stop. I did get fed up mistaking the sign P. Montt (Puerto Montt) on the front of them for Polmont though!! Anyway back to the Saltos....

They were created when the lava from Volcano Osorno petrified forming a variety of rocks and surfaces. The melting water from the snow and glaciers on the volcano and other surrounding hills flows down over them and looks beautiful even before you take into account the fact that it is a strange green colour. The colour and amazing transparency of the water is caused by the fact that it is glacial water so it contains chemicals from the breakdown of any minerals present in the ice. Whatever the cause, the effect was beautiful!

After exploring all of the nooks and crannies of the Saltos and the trails through the forest, including a fantastic tranquil spot that looked like the kind of tropical swimming hole you see in the movies, we made our way back out to the road and set off to find another trail that would take us 6km through the forest along the base of the volcano. It took some hard work at times to pick our way along the trail but the views were worth it. The worst section was where we had to cross an area that at one point was a river of melting glacial water but was now completely dry (unlike us!). One of the guards at the park told us there were arrows pointing the way so that we could make our way over the barren area and find the continuation of th path on the other side. However...the arrows were not easy to find and we nearly gave up and turned back rather than get lost but after a wee seat and some lunch we gave it one last shot and managed to fine the elusive arrows. After we got the first few it became much easier and we were soon back on our way, for a while it even stopped raining and the clouds cleared a little from the top of the volcano - it didn't last though!

At the end of the trail we were back onto a road and followed it back, downhill thankfully!, towards the small town to catch the bus. As we neared the town we went on a short detour to the Laguna Verde where the water from the Saltos ends up. The workmen kindly allowed us down a path to the edge of Lago Llanquihue that they were "working" on - I saw plenty of people but no actual work...until we asked to take a picture of them, them one guy made a point of picking up his spade! The view out over the lake was beautiful and incredibly tranquil. We also met some other tourists there who had asked the local bus driver about Laguna Verde so he'd stopped the bus and was acting as an impromptu tour guide. After we'd had a good look about we climbed on the very handy bus and headed back to Puerto Varas.

That night we all decided to go out for dinner at a restaurant a couple of blocks away. A few people had been there the night before and said it was excellent so we all went back. I decided not to go for the adventurous fish in margarita sauce that was the specialty and stuck with some delicious chicken and mash although I did try the pisco sour (it was a bit strong for me!).

Next stop on our whistlestop tour is Pucon after a 7 or 8 hour bus ride - I think it's a bad sign that anything tht stays in single figures for journey time is feeling relatively short!!
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