As the plane cruised north, clouds cleared from below us revealing sounds and snowcapped mountains of northern Patagonia. Just before the final approach to Puerto Montt, the landscape flattened out a bit and the rugged mountain peaks were replaced by volcanic cones. Puerto Montt was my last stop of the trip. It is a gateway to Lake District that lies to the north. I had only two days left, while Radka was going to stay another week, together with Zdenek and Radana. I was going to take these two last days easy as the time I had did not allow for much anyhow.
When we drove a rental car toward downtown Puerto Montt, surrounding scenery looked strangely familiar - lush vegetation, colorful billboards in Spanish, a blue sky and humidity. I could not quite place it for a while, but then it occured to me - this was Costa Rica. Even traffic in the streets of Puerto Montt reminded me of our first arrival into San Jose, Costa Rica. We found an inexpensive hotel downtown. Even though its best days were obviously over, it still felt like luxury to us, having spent a better part of the last three weeks camping. We visited a fair in the evening, tasted sweet 'churros', a local pastry, and watched downtown streets slowly go to sleep.
A coastal fog descended upon the city in the morning. After walking a bit the streets of downtown, this time in daylight, visiting an American style mall, that somehow seemed out of place there, we drove over to a Puerto Montt market, where we shopped for souvenirs and took in the sights and smells of a fish market. Since I come from a landlocked country and currently live in another one, it is a special sight for me every time.
There are numerous small restaurants inside the market. We finally accepted an invitation into one of them, but not very hungry, we just wanted to share one seafood plate. Well, that did not go well with the owners. With my limited Spanish, I did not quite understand what was wrong with that. Perhaps, we would be just taking up precious space that way. Since we were not going to give in and order two meals, we left without ordering anything. This was my only negative experience in Chile, if I do not count the absence of a laundromat in Punta Arenas.
|Pier||Cloudy morning in Puerto Montt||Small boat harbor||Puerto Montt market||Fruits of the sea||Kitten|
After leaving the market, we left Puerto Montt and headed north on a freeway, a portion of the Panamerican highway. At least here it lives up to its name. We got off at Puerto Varas, a town with a marked German architectural influence, which is quite common in this region. From Puerto Varas, we followed the southern shore of Lago Llanquihue toward Vicente Peréz Rosales national park. We drove up to its main most accessible attraction, Lago los Santos, a lake surrounded by volcanoes and rainforests. We did not quite like what we found there - 'tabanos', huge biting flies, that supposedly appear for only a few days at the height of summer, and crowds of tourists of all ages getting on and off tour buses. In southern Patagonia, it was easy to forget this kind of tourism existed, but here we were back in the real world.
We found a very nice cabin just outside of the park at a place called Ensenada. Cabinas Brisas del Lago did not only have a nice breeze from the lake, Lago Llanguihue, but also an access to the beach and great views of the symmetric snowcapped cone of Osorno volcano across the lake.
We drove a dirt road on the north shore of the lake through a lush rainforest in the morning. As soon as we left the slopes of Osorno, the forest gave way to farm land. We stopped for lunch in Frutillar, a nice town on the lake's west shore. And that was almost it. It was time for me to say good bye to Chile.
|Volcan Osorno and Saltos de Petrohue||Saltos de Petrohue||Rio Petrohue||Volcan Osorno||Volcan Osorno||Alpenglow|
|Lago Llanguihue sunset||Volcan Osorno||Volcan Osorno||Flower||Sunbathing under the volcanoes||Coming back|