Puerto Varas, lovely lakes & awesome Volcan Osorno
Trip Start Nov 06, 2009
354Trip End May 28, 2011
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The town sits beside Llanquihue Lake, one of the biggest natural lakes in South America. From the lakeside we could clearly see the snow-capped peaks of the mighty Volcan Osorno, Mount Calbuco and Mount Tronador rising up majestically from the other side.
We checked into the cosy Compass del Sur hostel, a lovely old classic German-style colonial house on a street full of lots of other lovely old classic colonial houses, heated by toasty woodburners throughout (especially handy for drying wet clothes and backpacks when it rains - as it does mist of the time in Puerto Varas!).
Fortunately however, the day we decided to visit the Vicente Pérez Rosales National Park (our main reason for visiting Puerto Varas) Mother Nature was very kind to us, turning the rain off and cranking the temperature up a few notches.
A lovely Spanish couple, Danny and Mirella from Barcelona, gave us a lift to the town of Petrohue, the gateway to the national park, about 60km from Puerto Varas.
We trekked along the 'Sendero Paso de la Desolacion', which took us along a black sandy path alongside Lago Todos Los Santos (All Saints Lake), through dry scrub and dense green beech forest, along dry river beds, over lava rock cushioned with a carpet of soft moss, and up barren slopes of loose volcanic cinder rock (from which the pass' bleak name is derived) to a viewpoint.
When we started the trek the snow-capped peak of Volcan Osorno was hidden behind mist and dense clouds which threatened to dump their load on us. However as we got higher and nearer to the volcano the sun made an appearance and melted the clouds away, treating us to an
We then bounced our way back down the soft black volcanic sand slopes (much easier than climbing up them, which involves taking one step up and three steps back with every step) and walked down to the black sand beach bordering the lake. Through the crystal clear water we
The waters of Lago Todos los Santos flow down into a narrow canyon joining Lago Llanquihue and forming a set of wild white water rapids, and forcing the river through narrow gaps in an old lava flow, creating the Saltos del Petrohue (Petrohue Falls). From Petrohué town we took a local bus to the falls.
Like the last set of falls we saw - Huka Falls near Taupo - Petrohue Falls are pretty powerful,
Then back on a bus to the small settlement of Ensenada, where we visited the Laguna Verde (Green Lagoon). It was, as you may imagine, a lagoon of green water. Pretty. But more exciting was the wildlife we happened to encounter there; a small grey fox-like creature crossed our
By the time we made it back to Puerto Varas we were tired but happy and very ready for a slap-up meal (the previous night's leftovers - still very tasty even if we do say so ourselves!) and a good catch-up over a bit of wine with our fellow hostel mates (this time from Aus, Germany, Spain, Holland, France and the US).