Chilean Lake District

Trip Start Sep 10, 2008
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Trip End Dec 17, 2008


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Weigner

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Saturday, October 11, 2008

After spending a day visiting the local vineyards around Santiago (and tasting a good few glasses of vino) we caught a flight south to Peurto Monte and then a short bus ride to our next destination, the port town of Peurto Varas in the Chilean Lake Disrict.

That afternoon our local guide Paulo took us on a bus trip to Osorno Volcano and the surrounding area. Most people fell asleep on the bus because a) we were tired and b) Paulo brought to mind a Chilean Terry Wogan with his sing song dulcet voice. We climbed the steep road up the side of the volcano towards a ski resort that nestled half way up the slope of the perfect volcanic cone. One the way we passed masses of bright yellow gorse bush, an unwelcome gift from the queen of England according to Pablo. We had time to stop to admire the amazing views on the way up the road before reaching the ski lodge.

Unfortunately the volcano was shrouded in mist and cloud so we couldnīt see a thing! We had a burger and a nice hot drink to chase away the cold (it was freezing) and waited to see if the cloud would disperse - it didnīt. Paulo told us that the weather was improving and that later on the sun would be shining and we would see the volcano. We took the bus back down into the valley and drove off to another place of natural beauty, a set of river rapids nestled in the forrest at the foot of the volcano.

By the time we arrived the sun was shining down hard. The air was cold but the sun was very hot so it made for quite an interesting climatic experience. The area around the rapids was absolutely stunning. Emerald and turquoise rivers met in a cascade of tumbling falls and rapids. Behind us rose a thick green forrest shrouded with mist and beyond the rapids stood the emmense Osorno Volcano which we could now see in all its glory. What a place! One of the most beautiful places I have ever seen. I donīt think the photos will do it justice. Majestic.

That night we went to a nice sea food restaurant with the rest of the group. Juan Luis, our guide had recommended we try the sea food so I had a King Crab thingy which was lovely.

The next day myself and Becks had decided to go on a tour to Chiloe Island to see the Penguins!! Paulo told us that there was a small island that the fishermen would take us to that was home to a variety of see birds including both the Humboldt and Magellan Penguin. Apparently one of the only places in the world where they live side by side. We caught a ferry accross to Chiloe which was a beautifull little island with lovely multi-coloured houses walled in the characteristic shingle shapes of the area.

After a quick wander around the centre of Chiloe we drove down to a beach cove where we stopped for a coffee and some people had Oysters but it was a bit early in the morning for me and Sped. We then set off towards the little fishing village where we would meet the fishermen who would take us to the penguins. The drive through the countryside was gorgeous. The rolling green hills and pastures full of cows bring back memories of the English countryside in summer. Everywhere is very green, only punctuated by the bright yellow invader.

We met the fishermen and they informed us that the conditions were safe to take the trip out to the small island home of the penguins. It didnīt take long to find some of the cute little critters. The little ones ran away up the rocks as the boat approached but the bigger ones stood their ground knowing there was nothing to be afraid of, just a few gorping faces. Penguins are so funny. Everything they do is funny. They try and climb rocks and they have to lean forward stupidly to stop from falling over, itīs brilliant. We saw both types, Humboldt and Magellan, one of which has a pink bit on the face but I canīt remember which. We also saw loads of other birds including 4 types of cormarant in various shapes, sizes and colours. One of the highlights was seeing a couple of small otters, one of which was wrestling a crab for his dinner!

When we got back to dry land we had some Salmon steaks in the fishermans restaurant before heading back to the bus for the trip back to Peurto Varas. That evening we had a clear night and a superb full moon that lit up the snowy peaks of the volcanos in the distance. Me and Sped went to a little mediteranian restaurant by the sea and had a great pasta dish. I had a stupidly massive chocolate desert too. Nice.

Tommorow morning we would catch a bus accross the mountains to Argentina.
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