Next stop Puerto Varas which has a similar reputation and feel to Pucon but a bit more German from the settlers who still have long family ties to German language, schooling and food.
It was a lovely city on the edge of lake Llanquihue with the imposing volcanos of Osorno and Calbuco at the other side. Volcano Calbuco also erupted in April 2016 but caused much more devastation than volcano Villarica did in Pucon. For this reason it is now closed to tourists until the routes and tracks are improved again.
We opted for more horse riding (of course) followed by a full day of kayaking under the volcano the next day.
The horse riding was in two bits. In the morning we rode with Florenza and Claus a lovely couple who have recently bought a little slice of heaven just outside the village of Frutilla. It is in a protected area of forest which they have permission to open a small eco tourism centre, inviting tourists to walk or ride through the protected forest with these guides who are both passionate and knowledgeable about the area.
We both rode the 2hr ride and learnt about the maki berry eaten raw by the indigenous people, the ulmo tree used for honey bees as it gives the honey a rich and creamy flavour, we stood in the middle of the forest surrounded by birds singing and insect noise and felt like we were in a different world.
We headed back through the farmland with the volcano Osorno in the background and enjoyed every minute of the ride.
Then I stuck around for a second ride in the afternoon to see the volcano and the lake from the other side of The Valley. Another amazing experience where each hill top opened views of the beautiful lakes and surrounding mountain range.
After 5hrs on a horse I’d had my fix and headed backwards for an ice cream and early night for the next day of kayaking.
Kayaking was done through an agency called Jass. The agency was great and at a good price compared to others. We decided to go for the whole day kayaking; this trip took us 2 hours out of town to Estero Reloncavi, where the Petrohue river joins the Pacific ocean. This body of water is effected by tides and winds.
We started further south down the Estero just past Cochamo and worked our way North. First heading towards the peninsula where lunch was waiting for for us. The water was choppy at parts and we were working against the winds.
We stopped for lunch after 2 hours and 45 minutes on a peninsula owned by a farming family. To get to this peninsula by car from the closest town takes an hour and half. Then after this it is a long walk across the fields, the owners of the farm sustain themselves mostly with what they grow. The keep livestock and had orchards. Lunch was one of the best I had hand in a long time, I was told it was down to the water used to grow the crops which come from a glacier. We had lamb and with a mix of vegetables.
After the lunch we headed out again, this time Amy and I switched our single Kayaks for the ‘divorce boat’; a 2 person kayak, with Amy driving at the back and and John at the front paddling. Our guide told us it should take about 45 minutes to an hour to finish. When we got out on the water we found the wind had really picked up and was heading right towards us. The waves were much bigger, as we rounded the end of the peninsula the wind funnels down this tighter spot making larger waves. The guide was not expecting this, one of the other kayakers was taken by the strength of the waves and wind back down the river! The guide had to rescue them. We were told to just paddle on the spot, this was really hard, waves crashing over the kayak. It took us another 2 hours of hard rowing to get to the other end, it was a really enjoyable experience.