Puerto Varas - in the Chilean Lakes District

Trip Start Jan 04, 2008
Trip End Jun 13, 2008

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Friday, January 11, 2008

11th-13th January - Puerto Varas

First impressions of Puerto Varas were that it was a very tidy, well maintained village on the shores of Lago Llanquihue with gorgeous views across to Volcanoes Osorno and Calbuco (Apparently! -  The whole time we were there the skies were overcast and it was only on the first morning that we go a glimpse of the volcanoes through the clouds).

After we´d checked into Caza Azul, home for the next 3 days, we jumped on a bus straight away into Puerto Montt, to confirm our Navimag ´cruise´.  When got to Puerto Montt we decided to check the weather for the next few days as we had the Navimag cruise followed by a five day hike in the Torres del Paine planned.  What we found was that the forecast was terrible - overcast and rain for the next ten days or so - just what we didn´t want.  So, after a flurry of internet searches, bookings and re-bookings we ended up changing our plans so that we now take the Navimag a week later than originally planned, and and in the meantime we will go to Bariloche in Argentina for a few days.

Anyway, we still had a few days in Puerto Varas, so after completing all our housekeeping tasks in Puerto Montt we returned to Puerto Varas where we checked out all the important things - cafes, restaurants, pubs etc.  The weather was pretty grotty - cold and overcast, but there were still plenty of people sunbathing and even swimming on the shores of the lake - incredible!

On our second day there we followed the well publicised ´Heritage Building Trail` which basically amounted to a walk around town looking at all the old derelict houses that weer built 50-100 years ago.  Still it was a nice walk and took us up to the top of a hill that overlooks the lake and town.  In Lonely Planet, Puerto Varas was described as the up and coming town in Chilean Lakes District.  It still needs to do a fair bit to live up to that and half a day is probably all that´s needed in the town.  In the evening dinner was the biggest plate of sausages, meats and chips ever seen (see photo´s).  It was even too much for both of us to finish - a very rare occasion indeed.

For our third day here, we hopped on a local bus to Petrohue in the Parque Nacional Vicente Perez Rosales.  About 7km short of the settlement we were dropped off at the Saltos del Petrohue, a series of waterfalls, rapids, and walks.  This was our first encounter with the big black bugs that we found in several parts of the Lakes District.  These flying bugs are about 2cm long and love black.  Of course, Finola was dressed all in black, and so we had the joy of watching Finola running around the tracks swatting her arms, swearing and calling Jon all sorts of names (I don´t know what I´d done!).  Not much we could do, and eventually Finola calmed down and just accepted that she would have several of these creatures circling her for the rest of the day.

After a while at the falls, we than had to walk the 7km along a gravel road to the settlement of Petrohue.  Actually it wasn`t too bad a walk, alongside the river with mountains either side of us.  Petrohue itself is a tiny settlement, really just the start point for the bus/boat trip to Bariloche in Argentina.  But the views from the edge of the lake (Logo Todos Los Santos) were superb.  Views of volcano Osorno in one direction, and across to Mount Tronador in Argentina in the other.

Casa Azul was a great place to stay. Our room was a bit basic, but the dining areas and kitchen were really nice and we whiled away several hours reading books and doing crosswords (we brought the Sun book of cryptic/coffee time crosswords with us from the UK - just about our level).  The owners are German and so there are a few rules that have to be obeyed, but overall we´d rate this as a good place to stay in Puerto Varas.
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