Trip Start Aug 03, 2010
152Trip End Feb 01, 2012
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The highway goes through Pumalin Park, which stretches from the Pacific to the Andes. The land, purchased by an American billionaire, was donated for the purpose of conservation and protecting flora and fauna, like the elusive pudu and the alerce tree. We saw the best examples yet of very large, ancient alerce here.
It is a rainforest, so everything is vibrant green and covered with mosses, lichen and ferns. Flowering trees make for sweet smelling air and beautiful mountainsides (when visible through the clouds).
We went to the town of Chaiten to stock up on food and to reserve space on the once-a-week ferry to Chiloe island. We met Nicolas, a local, who told us of the devastating eruption of the Chaiten Volcano in 2008. In addition to blowing ash up into the wind, the ash flowed like a river down the volcano and through town. Homes and businesses were destroyed, but people were evacuated beforehand, so no one was hurt. Many have not returned, the town has half the population it used to and they’re still in the process of cleaning up the mess. He called Chile a volcano factory, with three recently spewing ash and about 60 "active" (meaning they could potentially erupt at any time).
A little south of town is Amarillo Hot Springs, it felt fabulous to soak in hot water for a couple hours, I think I’ve never felt so clean. Another section of Pumalin Park is accessed nearby. It was here that we got as close to a pudu as we’ll probably ever get. We found pudu prints (about ¼ the size of the deer prints from home) on a trail that weren’t there the day before… if only we’d stayed up all night and could see in the dark. I bet it was adorable!
For the first time in 16 months we set our alarm so we could make it to the ferry on time. Chiloe Island here we come!