Trip Start Aug 23, 2012
40Trip End Ongoing
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It rained non-stop for the first 48 hours so we were stuck in our cosy log cabin with the fire burning drinking Chilean wine, the only break we had from this terrible situation was going to the thermal spas and soaking in varying degrees of warm-to-very hot water by a river in a valley. I’m sure you will not be surprised that Daryn and I found a way to make thermal spas ‘extreme’ – we interspersed sitting in the hottest pool (about 40 degrees) with seeing how far we could get into the glacier-fed river (maybe 10 degrees).
As soon as we saw a hint of blue sky we rented bikes and started off our activity bonanza with a painfully hilly 50km bike ride to Playa Blanco – white beach – stopping at thee Ojos del Caburgua waterfalls along the way. Playa Blanco is on a crystal clear lake which had a just-about-manageable swimming temperature, though we would have swam in mud if it had been cold after overheating on some serious hills along the way.
With the arrival of our friend Buddy, the more serious of the extreme activities began. We spent our first day climbing Volcano Villarrica (about 5 hours up), taking pictures of the active crater, then sledding down back to the bottom (about 45min)… sound unsafe? No way – we had our ice picks to use as breaks on the way down so it was fine. The fact that this activity exists proves my theory that the most ridiculous ideas are the best ones.
Next on the list was hydrospeeding; if you thought the volcano hike was a health-and-safety nightmare, wait till you read this… for those who are unfamiliar with the art of hydrospeeding, it basically involves suiting up for rafting down grade 3 rapids – wetsuit, lifejacket, helmet – but instead of riding in a raft, you are additionally kitted out with flippers and a foam surf-board and you swim down the rapids trying desperately to stay in line with the guide, who is trying to make sure you don’t smash into the big rocks. Sound a bit insane? It is. And yes, you do bash into rocks along the way. All the pictures on the blog of the hydrospeeding were taken in between the rapids as taking action shots would have been impossible.
Emerging somewhat bruised and beaten from hydrospeeding, we spent our final day doing a hike in Huerqhuehue National Park; which was absolutely beautiful. Though strenuous, the hike didn’t fall into the ‘extreme’ activity category so we ended the day with a massive BBQ which involved extreme eating and beer drinking with some friends we met doing the volcano hike.
It was during our time in Pucon that we decided to change our travel plans over Christmas. After taking advice from James – a random person we had spent all of 5 minutes speaking to (this, by the way, is another good example of our shocking decision-making process) – we were convinced that although our plans to spend Christmas in warm, sunny, relaxing Buenos Aries were nice, they were perhaps not adventurous enough and thus decided that taking the Navimag Ferry 1460kms through the Patagonian Fjords, eventually arriving into Puerto Natales to gear up for a 5-day trek to see the Torres Del Paine would be a far better way to spend Christmas. Who wouldn’t want to spend Christmas eve in a tent and have freeze-dried pasta and trail mix for Christmas dinner?!