Playing with fire
Trip Start Mar 18, 2010
18Trip End Apr 20, 2010
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A haven for thrill seekers, we arrived into this Rockie mountain esque town - not far off the scenic splendours of Banff or Queenstown, to check into the eco hostel Ecole. As a Lonely Planet thumbs up venue, this quaint hostel is a place of many chilled Chilean staff, an on-site masseuse (14 pounds hoorah!) and some of the best veggie food in Chile. Actually scrap that, the only veggie food in much of Chile - although fortunately it also happens to be made with lots of love and is totally delicious. Quinoa from the Andes somehow tastes better than the Holland and Barrett version....
So anyway, our four adventure-packed days have seen us canoning through an enormous waterfall filled gorge and abseiling down ravines, hitting Termas Porsones for a spot of spa gazing at night complete with a delicious cab sauvignon from the local supermercado (1.50 people!!!) (more of that to follow) attempting to climb a rock (I say attempt because it was an smooth rock intended for experts). Me? I am a total novice and told them as much, but was simply slung into a harness anyway and told, bare footed, to "go"): Needless to say I ddn´t get very far up our Touching the Void worthy rock face (the Chileans have no concept of "beginner level"): But I gave it a shot and Dimitri, having more experience than I, scrabbled, scraped and clawed his way to the top. He even has a bloody, blistered toe to prove it, so we celebrated his triumph by going out for an equally bloody steak the size of a casserole dish and literally mooing on arrival.
Other highlights have included renting a car and driving across the entire Lakes region, or Los Lagos as they´re known to a place called Geometricas - some 17 geothermal pools of varying degrees although most of them scorchio. Heated straight from the depths of the earth courtesy of four worryingly active volcanoes, we had several glorious hours jumping in and out of steaming 38 degrees upwards pools that have been carved out by a famous Chilean architect to resemble a Japanese garden. Breath taking, boiling, and a bloody lovely experience!
The piece de resistance however was today, hiking some seven hours through Gods finest handiwork to encounter the Lagos trail and traverse our way up and down numerous cascadas and tundra until we reached lakes of an altitude of some 1099m above sea level. Apparently that equates to climbing Snowdon for us Brits. Not bad at all. Now we´re going to celebrate our last night with a beer by the lake and a little vegetarian food to counteract all the carne! An early start beckons tomorrow - it´s back to Santiago for one last night before I say adios to mi hombre and go it alone across the mighty Andes. Horse ranches and Malbec await in my first stop - Mendoza. As if I needed an excuse?