A Travellerspoint blog


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After 3 days in Puerto Varas with the weather being iffy, I thought I’d try to go to Pucon, 6 hours north as the weather looked better north. It turned out it made no difference as the volcano was in the clouds here as well. I had been looking for a change of pace taking a break from touristic activities. The break has happened here despite the fact that I wanted to wait until a big city so that I could replace touristic things with some cultural and social activities. Instead it happened here and I guess I needed a rest anyway.

My experience going into the trip was that 3 months was plently long to see a lot of South America and still have time for trying to get deeper and more authentic somewhere. It turns out, this was not true. As I have travelled and seen the vastness, I have realized I could have spent 3 months in just Patagonia trekking. Seeing and hearing others' stories I haven’t even scratched the surface with what I have done. On the other hand, I could also spend 3 months just focusing on learning the language and the people and culture of just one South American country. This trip has been much more a sampler than I expected it to be.

As I got off the bus in Pucon, a local woman approached me and asked me if I was looking for lodging. I felt conflicted because I thought maybe it would be a good local experience but it also took me off balance because I wanted something nice, comfortable, in the middle of town and with a lot of excursion options. But, I reluctantly agreed and my initial reaction was grave disappointment because the hospedaje was so far from the town that upon trying to orient myself I got lost. It was a low point for the trip being in a new place and not getting what I was looking for at all. Travelling this way is certainly not convenient or easy.

I spent the rest of the day looking at hostels in town for future nights but none appealed or called out to me. I went back to the hostel and only people from Israel who all appeared to be friends with each other were staying there besides me. I felt isolated and went to bed at 10 with the intention of getting up early and transferring hostels.

The next morning I packed up, put bags downstairs ready to go, and ate breakfast and was about to leave the hostel when another Isreali who was travelling alone started talking to me. I made a judgement call to stay because it appeared that I would have people to do things with here after all. The bright side was also I had been given my own room and surprisingly the place offered a laundry service for cheap (a big plus when you only have 3 days worth of clothes!).

The weather still being lousy in the mountains and still nursing a sore ankle, I joined about 6 people to a trip to the Los Puzones termas or hot springs. It was more natural than others I had been to with outdoor pools in a nice forest and stream.

That night, I ate at a nice restaurant in Pucon and had fish and greens because I was craving something healthy.

The next day was the worst weather day of the lot, but my friend and I cooked lunch together with him showing me an Israeli dish called shakshuka. It is easy to prepare, cheap, and very tasty combination of tomato, garlic, onion, and egg.

After lunch it rained all day so I went onto finish reading my first novel in Spanish (dictionary close by). However, later that night there was a birthday party for the woman who runs the hostel and the people staying and family and friends all celebrated her birthday. I got to talk to some locals and practice my Spanish. The Israeli people staying also bought her a cake sang a traditional song raising her chair up in the air. It was a late night and an early morning.

Fortunately, the sun finally came out in Pucon today and the volcano was visible for the first time on my forth day here.

volcano from my room

I did climb the volcano today but that is for another entry ...

Posted by solorooster 17:00 Archived in Chile Comments (0)

Puerto Montt

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Today was a down day for me but going with the flow I ended up doing something. It was supposed to be rainy all day but it alternated between rain and sun. At about 2, I went into Puerto Varas to buy a ticket to the next town for tomorrow. I was thinking of checking out the next town north but my friend from the hostel wanted to go to Puerto Montt, the big city in the area so I agreed.

We got into town and asked what there was to do and they suggested the mercado and the fish market, so we set out along there and encountered many stalls with local good being sold.
One stall sold dried fish called cholgas, which smelled awful.
It was a bit like Mexico where you kept walking and found the same things for cheaper further down. We never got to the fish market though because there was a scenic cove at low tide with boats sitting up on the sand so going to explore them we found we could cross to the island across the way. On the boat, we met a woman Andrea and her son Bejamin and we walked with them across the island, named Isla Tenglo. It turned out that they lived on the other side of the island in a little village called Vega, which felt like a really isolated village even though it was only 2 or 3 miles from the city of Puerto Montt. At the village I kicked a soccer ball around with Benjamin, who's 7, and then his mother picked some fresh apples from one of there trees and told us of a nice loop to follow on the island.
We continued to the Cruz, a cross that looks over the Puerto Montt harbor offering outstanding views of the city. Usually a monument like this is open to the public and a tourist place but this one was fenced off and the field was being grazed on by cows and horses. It was so interesting to see the combination of pasture and city together in one place.
After that, we took a boat back to town and walked around the streets finding some quick food.
After that we headed back to Puerto Varas where I took it easy and learned a new card game Yanniv.

Posted by solorooster 02:46 Archived in Chile Comments (0)

Puerto Varas

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Puerto Varas is a pleasant town which has been nice to relax in. With the weather going severaly downhill for the week, I went to Lake Todos Los Santos and also got a closer view of Volcan Osorno yesterday.

Puerto Varas is in the lakes region and is on the western shores of Lago Llanquique. The town has a German influence with a distinctive cathedral.

Due to the impending weather, a couple of us from the hostel decided to take some buses to get a better view of the volcano. We overshot initially and got to see Lago Todos Los Santos, which has water that is a spectacular shade of emerald green that did not come out in the photos.
Then we stopped at a beach on the lakeshore close to the volcano.

We got back to town around sunset and I got a few more views with some interesting colors.
Three volcanoes can be seen from its lakeshore. From left to right they are Osorno 2661 m 8700 ft, Tronador 3,491 m (11,453 ft) in the distance, and Calbuco 2,003 m (6,571 ft).

Today, I had a nice casuela de ave (checken stew) from a local restaurant ...
and bought empanadas ...
so that I do not have to leave the hostel in the rain. I may try the casino out as they do offer poker ... we will see.

Posted by solorooster 11:11 Archived in Chile Comments (0)

Patagonia to the Lakes Region

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This ended up being the longest "day" of the trip. When researching this type of travel I was advised to take the slow way sometimes and mix up the mode of transport so I have been working my way north on the continent without the aide of flight. Since I put in 13 hours in a bus on a bumpy road yesterday I figured I might as well try something a little more routine and easier ... a ferry. I was told this ferry leaves at 10 AM and gets to Puerto Montt around the reasonable hour of 7 PM, which is essentilly the beginning of civilization after experiencing the isolation of the Carretera Austral and Patagonia. This is how it went:

I spent the night in Chaiten and since I didn't have much time in Chaiten, I got up early and walked to the waters edge. It was foggy but kind of interesting.
Being Sunday in Chile, everything was shut down. I got ready for a 10 AM ferry ride walking over for 9 as advised. The ferry was not there when I got to the dock at 9:15 and it subsequently arrived at 9:30. After letting off passengers and cars it was after 10. Then instead of letting us on it closed up doors and went offshore.
The personnel said the tide was too low and to come back at 1:30. On my travels it seems like this type of delay has been a constant. I have gotten better at dealing with it but it still makes no sense to me how almost nothing goes to plan. I would have guessed 80% would go somewhat to plan but I am not experiencing close to that! I am thankful though for the busride yesterday along the Carretera Austral being one of the things that went fairly well. That could have easily been an extra day or two and if you miss something in this part of the world, it could mean being stranded an extra 3 or 4 days!

With the extra time in Chaiten I hung out a bit with some of the travelers from the hostel and also went and explored the part of town damaged by the 2008 volcanic eruption. The government tried to relocate the city but the residents would have none of it so Chaiten still exists today. However, the severely affected area is a 10 minute walk from the center of town.

I boarded the ferry at 1:45 and it disembarked at 2:30 but did not pull away from the harbour until 3. It was foggy so I went inside and read a book. It started clearing at 4 and was spectacular to be on the open water as the coasts on either side formed out of ether.
After awhile, there were the occasional whale spouting as well as geese and seagulls flying around. The ferry kept going until about 7:30 and when it approached Ayacara, a tiny community about 40 percent up the coast on our journey.

Even at this time I knew we would not get in by midnight but concensus still thought 11 or midnight. However, the ferry decided to stop in Ayacara. I guess this is normal but I did not see it on the ferry route. However, instead of going to shore it sat in the middle of the bay and sent the tender to shore and must have made several trips to collect passengers. This took over an hour and I noticed myself feeling anxious knowing how much longer we had still to go. I still knew I had lodging to find and others seemed to be in the same predicament but there is nothing that could be done. Still a bit anxious I tried to make the best of it, enjoying the sunset.
After that, I went inside and talked to someone from Santiago for awhile. I even got a bit of sleep! At some point the captain announced we'd be getting to Puerto Montt at 12:30. However, I have heard these estimates before and none have been correct. This one wasn't either. We got to the harbour at 1:45, off the boat at 2:00, to the terminal at 2:15, and the baggage collection process took an hour ...
People recommended sleeping in the terminal as it was too late to get lodging so with about 30 others I slept on some chairs in the ferry terminal. The crazy part is I got a few hours of sleep. Then at 7 I walked with a few people to the bus station and got a 10 mile busride to the more managable lakeside town of Puerto Varas where I await my room to be ready. I had some breakfast and met some nice people so far though.

I am not sure the details but this marks a break in the travel for me. I plan to stay in the lakes region for some time as constant travel especially with uncertain connections and lodging is really draining.

Posted by solorooster 05:58 Archived in Chile Comments (0)

Carretera Austral

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Today I was told it was a 12 hour busride from Coyhuaque to Chaiten along the Carretera Austral. It turned out to be 13 hours and only covered about 250 miles! It was a beautiful weather day and a beautiful ride with spectacular scenery. The bus however was underpowered (10 MPH uphill all day) and most of the road unpaved. Also, a twenty minute stop in Chile means 1 hour!

The ride left the farmlands of Coyhuaque and turned more to forest.

We stopped in Villa Manihuales for "twenty" minutes.

Then, we stopped briefly at Villa Amengual for a smoke break where there was a very interesting church.

Then, the paved part of the road ended and we entered the most spectacular senery of the day, an odd combination of very lush forest with snowcapped mountains at Quelat National Park.

We then reached the coast and travelled along an inlet for hours and finally we reached Puyuhuapi at 3 PM but took another "twenty" minute break and left at 4PM. At this point I was beginning to wonder if we were going to get to Chaiten as we were maybe half way or a little less!

We kept going however stopping briefly to pick up or drop off people, there was construction too.

We arrived in Villa Santa Lucia at 8 and there were still 80 km to Chaiten.

Fortunately the road was paved the last 60 km and we arrived in Chaiten around 10. I took the first hostel available and lucked into a restaurant and wifi too. I had some fish and hung out with some people from the busride for dinner.

Here's a video piece of my experience:

Posted by solorooster 07:33 Archived in Chile Comments (1)

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