Stranded in Puerto Varas (but enjoying it)

Trip Start Jan 10, 2008
Trip End Jun 03, 2008

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Flag of Chile  ,
Sunday, February 17, 2008

When we were hiking around the Torres, we chatted to a couple who highly recommended Puerto Varas, as a beautiful alternative to port town Puerto Montt. Since they were from Chile we took their advice and were really pleased that we did.

Puerto Varas is idyllically set on the shore of an enormous inland lake Llanquihue, with snow-topped volcano Osorno in the far shore. The town itself has German and Swiss influenced architecture which is fairly typical in this part of Chile, but very strange (for us) to see in South America. We also stayed in a fantastic hostel, Compass del Sur, which was run by a friendly couple and had the best facilities that we encountered in a hostel thus far.

Since Lola was becoming accustomed to hiking, we decided to celebrate her birthday by attempting to hike up Volcano Osorno. We were feeling pretty bullish since our success at the Torres, however, it quickly became apparent that getting up and down a 2500m volcano in our day kit was too ambitious and the route was quickly revised to include more beach-side walking (more convivial for a birthday picnic too).

The first half of the walk was pretty incident free and we walked for 3 hours without seeing another soul. As we chowed down to our gourmet picnic Lola decided to change from her trousers to her shorts. Just as she got her trousers off and was lining up the shorts, another couple appeared along the path. This was a sign of our luck to follow...

Taking the advice of the Park Ranger we ignored the printed map and took the 1st left after the 3rd dried up river. After about 30mins the path split into 3. The first 2 paths that we tried came to dead ends, so we went back and with some trepidation tried the 3rd (and least likely looking path). The first 15mins were ok, but before long we were in dense vegetation walking along the dried up bed of a narrow, but quite deep stream. The river bed was littered with fallen trees and vegetation and there were a few times that it look unpassable, but we pressed on aided by my totally inadequate penknife blade. It was getting pretty scary after 30 mins hacking our way along the riverbed and I have a photo of Lola (that Iīm not allowed to publish) that shows how scary it all was! Anyhow, after about 45mins of jungle action we found the footpath back and breathed a big sigh of relief.

The rest of our time in P.V. passed with incident and we left after 3 days for the 7 hour bus ride across the Andes to Bariloche.
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