Bariloche in Argentina's Lake District turned out to be one of our favourite places, so we were excited to see the area from the Chilean side.
Our first stop was in Puerto Varas. We found our hostel with some help from a local lady, two sweet dogs greeted us with excited wagging tails as we checked in. The dorm room was certainly different, I had a top bunk with a little curtain while Craig's bed was in the rafters. He had to climb a ladder which was rusticly carved from wood to reach a tiny balcony then use a foot stall to reach his mattress overlooking the rest of the room.
We ventured out for a walk, across the lake from the town two huge volcanoes dominate the landscape. We got some maracuya flavour ice creams and enjoyed the perfectly sunny day on the lake shore where children played, dogs wandered and locals sunned themselves.
The following day we decided to go for a walk in the national park. We waited what seemed like a long time for our bus to Petrohue, with no timetable we sat and people watched in the meantime. An older gent, slightly scruffy in appearance started chatting to us. He mentioned that he had lived in the U.K. and started talking about the wedding of Charles and Diana of all things. I was slightly on edge as while he was chatting away, his false teeth kept slipping and I was worried they'd fall out of his mouth! Our bus appeared and so we said goodbye and we got on, what a characterful chap we thought.
Once at the national park we started walking, the trail was sandy which made things a little difficult but the landscape was very beautiful. The volcano was visible and the whole area was covered with bright yellow flowers. We walked for a few hours before returning to make sure we were in time for the last bus.
The weather had taken a turn for the worse the next day. We decided to see the Petrohue waterfall as we didn't have time the day before. It was raining cats and dogs and stupidly we were wearing canvas shoes rather than our boots. The power of the river was incredible and it was a beautiful deep blue colour. We walked along a little trail and ended up taking a wrong turn, while crossing a stream a rock moved and Craig's whole foot ended up engulfed by water, two seconds later he hit his head on a low branch, he was not happy! On our return to Puerto Varas we stopped by Cafe Barista for treats. I had an orange and cinnamon hot chocolate which smelt like Christmas and an amazing raspberry cheesecake to go with it, while Craig had his favourite; lemon meringue pie. In the evening Nary the wonderful hostel owner made us all pisco sours and we had lots of fun chatting to all the guests, attempting to speak Spanish and laughing the evening away.
We left Puerto Varas for Valdivia a short journey away. We checked in to our hostel and then immediately caught a local bus to a fort where we spotted a type of small dolphin off the coast and got chatting to a local family.
The next day we walked along the waterfront to see the huge sea lions and the undercover market. Birds were flocking to the fish stalls and the fresh fruits looked so inviting. We crossed the bridge and enjoyed a picnic in the botanical garden before looking around and practicing our photography skills.
We left Valdivia after two nights and ventured to Pucón, home to a huge volcano that people flock to the area to climb. On the day we arrived it was 32 degrees Celsius and we could really feel it. We walked to the sandy beach on the lake and sat under the shade of a tree. When we returned to the hostel to make dinner I noticed how horrible the kitchen was, dirty and poorly equipped. My mood suddenly dropped and wasn't helped by a terrible nights sleep either.
Parque Nacional Huerquehue was on our itinerary so the following morning we got up early to catch the once a day bus. Unfortunately the bus was full but as there were so many of us waiting they put on an extra bus to take us the one hour journey. We signed in, paid the fee and began the Los Lagos trail, about a 7km round trip through forest to picturesque lakes and back again. We stopped at a pretty waterfall on the way up a steep trail which provided much needed rest. After chatting with two British couples at a viewpoint we continued only to come across a type of tarantula on the path. My first instinct was to let out a little squeal, spiders are not my favourite. With some coaxing I managed to dash past the huge spider and continue on. We reached the lakes and stopped for lunch while other walkers dived in the freezing water. On our return we stopped by another waterfall and thankfully didn't come across another spider!
We checked into a new hostel the next day, one recommended by a couple on our walk. Already the new hostel had a much nicer vibe, we got chatting to several people in the kitchen including Australian couple Kate and Michael. After hanging out for a while we decided to get some fresh air and ice cream while the Aussie's went to see the beach. In the evening we all went out for dinner at a vegetarian restaurant where we enjoyed Mexican food, brownies and fun chat.
After a slow start the four of us decided to go to Ojos del Caburgua, some nearby waterfalls. We caught a local bus and disembarked at the falls where we paid a small entrance fee. It was a hot sunny day and the water looked very inviting, it was crystal clear and a beautiful azure colour. We found a spot overlooking a lagoon for our picnic lunch before deciding to see the other side of the river. It turned out that the other side is owned by someone else and there is no bridge to cross the river. We walked around which ended up being at least a 3 kilometre walk in the baking sun along dusty roads. A piña ice lolly helped cool us down and we saw the falls from a different and more impressive perspective.
With the prospect of walking all the way back round to the bus stop we decided to instead cross the river. The Aussie's made it look so easy, hopping from one stone to the next, Kate was wearing flip flops! I seem to be incapable of keeping my balance in such moments and so took what I thought to be a less risky route. With everyone safely across I found myself stranded at the bottom of a 20 foot riverbank surrounded by rocks and bush. With Craig at the top looking down I thought I found a way up I could manage, suddenly he slipped and my heart raced. He grabbed a branch which snapped in his hands, I held out my arms instinctively to catch him and he landed perfectly, knees bent and on his feet with just a couple of grazes and a bleeding finger. Together we scrambled up the bank being careful not to snag ourselves on the barbed wire while Micheal and Kate looked on, we'd saved ourselves a walk but somehow I'd made it more difficult than it really needed to be!
Next stop; back to city life in Santiago.
🎥 Chile - Up's and Down's:
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