Part 2 of our final two weeks in South America, as we hot foot it back to Santiago from the deep south with a plane to catch that we`re keen not to to alter for a third time….
Lakes and Volcanoes
We’re up early on our fourth and final morning aboard ‘Evangelista’, to pack, have a final breakfast, disembark and get a taxi to the Croatia Apart Hotel, Puerto Montt. We have had a fabulous time cruising the Chilean Fjords on the Navimag ferry.
Patricio, the friendly taxi driver who takes us agrees to come back in an hour to take us for a tour around Llanquihue Lake (the second biggest lake in South America) Petrohue falls & Calbuco Volcano, and visit some German villages – we shower up quickly and head off. We have great day with him even though the weather is rubbish! He is a super guide and by day’s end we feel we have another lifelong friend! We see waterfalls dropping over volcanic rock just 144 yrs old, go up the volcano Calbuco as far as the snow for a snowball fight and pick up some volcanic rock samples!
Later we make a worthwhile and mouth-watering stop at a new artisan cheese makers where we eat the best cheese empanadas ever, taste everything and buy some scrummy cheeses! We see farms and old German houses, salmon farms on the lake, stop at a playground on the lake shore and finally get back around 7.30pm where Patricio drops us at nice sushi restaurant. A long busy day and we’re happy to fall into huge comfy beds!
We buy donuts and sandwiches next morning at the bus station and board the 10.30am bus for a 5 hr trip north to Pucon in the heart of the Lake District! Zoe’s 8th tooth finally comes our after wobbling for a month – it’s a celebration!!
Pucon is a lovely little town, on Lake Villarrica, very alpine and full of camping, trekking, and adventure tour outfits and restaurants. We check into Cabanas Manuplay, where we have a lovely little 2 bedroom villa for a few nights.
We hire a little car and visit beautiful Lake Calafquen, with a wide sandy beach to run around on and then we head up Volcan Villarrica, a spectacularly beautiful snow topped smoking cone which we note is active enough to warrant evacuation procedures and a daily update on activity levels outside the tourist information office.
One day, we take the kids out to a husky farm, meet the gorgeous and very excited huskies – they have about 100! And the kids get to go on an unusual and eventful husky ride about the countryside! It’s not on snow at this time of year, but the dogs are in training and pull a wheeled cart around the country roads with the kids, while Martin and I trail behind in a jeep!
The dogs are incredibly excitable and there’s high drama when they sniff out three piglets that have wandered off their farm onto the road. The dogs go ballistic, and descend on the piglet like, well, a pack of hungry wolves! The kids have to sit and watch the ensuing carnage right under their noses whilst we leap from the jeep and run to help the trainers separate the hounds from the pigs without getting our own hands mauled!!!
Heart racing stuff! Incredibly, two piglets escape looking relatively unscathed, the third is looking the worse for wear but surprisingly screams its way free, but missing most of its ear. Lara cries but it’s soon forgotten as we head back. ”Did you get some photos of the pigs Mum?” they want to know later! ”Err, I was a bit preoccupied trying to save them! Sorry kids!”
From the huskies, we head to the idyllic Thermas Geologicas – a much calmer experience! A series of hot pools tucked along a magical hidden gorge in the mountains. We enjoy hot soup around the fire in the cosy bar and luxuriate in the pools till its dark! In spite of the piglet mauling incident we still feel we have had a fabulous day!
We spend a couple of nights self catering and Zoe excels herself making and eating a record number of pancakes. That night a deafening siren suddenly breaks the silence around 11 (Zoe still going on pancakes). It`s like something from a WWll air raid. I straight away think of the volcano alert system and panic! I run to the reception to ask what it means and feel a bit of a twit when he explains it`s the local fire brigade siren. Of course it is! And breathe!
On our final day, we look into the possibility of a white water trip, canopy tour or horse riding but nothing’s good for 5 year old’s and the weather is turning so we stay in town and make the most of the playground, shops and cafes then take our overnight bus to Santiago.
(We travelled in S America from July 2012 to April 2013. You can read the summary in our blog Nine months, Nine Countries…)