Scuppered by the weather.. farewell Chilean lakes!

Trip Start Jun 04, 2005
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Trip End Apr 05, 2006


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Friday, November 25, 2005

If youīve read the previous entry, you must be thinking that this blog is just one continuous complaint about the weather, and youīre probably right! Since it turned on us earlier in the week in Argentina, we hadnīt seen any dry ground, let alone sun or blue skies.

Well, by Wednesday morning the weather had grown even worse in Villa La Angostura - we looked out of the window at breakfast and watched the sleet turn to snow. Time to pull out of this place... by noon we were on the road to the border. What a scary drive, but beautiful too: the snowfall grew heavier and heavier as we climbed the Samore pass toward the border post; the road was covered in snow and ice, so we crawled along at a snailīs pace.

At one point we passed a guy whose car had slid off the road... there wasnīt much we could to help, except promise that we would inform the border guards (which I tried to do in broken Spanish). The American couple who had pulled off in front of us asked Rich to drive through the worst bit of road first... thanks buddy! But thankfully we made it through without incident.

Interestingly the Chilean border post is located about 40km down the mountain from the actual border - and who could blame them with snowy weather like this being a common occurrence high up in the Andean cordillera. Though I must say, we had not expected it so late in spring.

More cloud and rain waited for us in Chile, though it was nowhere near as freezing. We grabbed a bite of lunch in Entre Lagos and headed down to Lago Llanquihue via a network of gravel byroads (I managed to get us lost a few times... the roads are much better signposted in Argentina!). Llanquihue is the second largest lake in Chile (after General Carrera, way down south) and it stretched like a an angry, stormy sea before us when we reached Las Cascadas, our planned destination on the shore of the lake. Again, it was no weather for camping, so we knocked on the door of Hosteria Irma, a marvellous old wooden farmhouse with colourful garden and lake view.

A wonderful warm welcome awaited us: sisters Irmita and Maria Julieta and their īpapaī invited us into their farmhouse kitchen warmed by a lovely old wood-fired Aga stove. We cooked our dinner of chorizos and mash and shared our beer and red wine with the family before curling up under fluffy down duvets... what a homely place! And with a bit of help from our Lonely Planet phrasebook, we managed to have a pleasant evening chatting away about this and that.

Thurday morning (24 November) we were slow to emerge from those comfy down duvets... and guess what, it was still bucketing down. Time for some basic decisions... do we stay or do we go? The weather forecast was for a few days of rainy weather in the Southern Lakes, so we eventually decided (after much agonising and wringing of hands) to return to Puerto Montt that morning, hand the car back two days earlier than planned and fly to Santiago that very afternoon.

It seemed a shame - we had planned to explore the more of the southern lakes, esp Lago Todo dos Santos and Parque Nacional Henry Rosalez over the next couple of days. But there didnīt seem much point in ploughing on in the foul weather. And besides, the car was costing us a fair packet, about 50 USD a day, and the sun was shining in Santiago...

We returned to Puerto Montt by lunchtime (still pouring down), and confirmed with Avis that they would refund us for the two final days. While Rich sorted out paperwork with them, I dashed down to the Lan Chile office to change our flights to Santiago... to my surprise they were fully booked until Saturday the 26th!

So here we are today, Friday, stuck in Puerto Montt (one of my least favourite towns, a bit of a dive, really) until tomorrow. And guess what, the weather has dried up and the sunīs shining outside... arrrgh, what I would give to have that little hire car back and be camping on the shores of Lago Todo dos Santos! Oh well, we cannot undo our decision, and a day in an internet cafe, blogging and emailing, is long overdue!
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