Exploring Chile – Puerto Varas

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.

Orsono Over the bay

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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.



Exploring Chile – Chiloe

We only gave ourselves 2 days on the beautiful island of Chiloe which may have been an error as it is so peaceful and beautiful we could have spent a week there just chilling! But we hadn’t given ourselves that time so after a quick wander round Ancud and a fresh fish dinner we settled down to sleep as we were up at 5am the next morning for a sea lion, penguin and whale spotting trip.

We had to travel to the west side of the island to an area called Punihuil where there are sea lion colonies and penguin colonies protected by eco tourism companies so are the best to do the trips with.

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We met up with the rest of the people on our tour, all German and got our first taste of Brexit angst….no one talked to us for the rest of the tour once we said we were from the UK. But our tour guide was great and really animated about the wildlife we would see. We were all hoping to see whales but knew that was down to luck. We set off and we only in the boat for 15mins before 3 dolphins popped up alongside the boat, they did a majestic leap each then off they went, too quick for photos but enough to just enjoy the sight.

Then we arrived at the sea lion colony. Incredible. 25,000 sea lions on the island at the last count. The beaches we covered in sea lions. The big boys with their harem of girls and babies around them growling at the next big boy who was surrounded by his ladies too. We learnt that once the male challenges another male and takes the women, the loser male is banished for a while and the new male kills all the babies and starts again making more.

The males were very impressive with their size and actions and were always on the look out to protect their girls. The girls and older babies were playing in the sea and all the little faces kept popping up to observe us as much as we observed them. Amazing views! We saw 4 different beaches on the island and the noise and smell was incredible. 100’s of sea lions on each beach and amazing sights.

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Here is a video showing just one part of the beach, there were so many sea lions.

Then we headed off to the penguin island and saw loads of penguins. Mostly Magellan penguins but a few Humboldts wandering around for good measure. We saw the babies learning to swim and the adults moulting on the shore before they can all set off for the next 6 months at sea before they come back to land to mate, moult and teach their babies to swim.

There were also some other types of birds:

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Unfortunately it was too cloudy for whale spotting but we had a pretty amazing experience regardless.

We got back at midday and as we were leaving the next morning for Puerto Varas I decided to hop on a bus to Castro the island’s capital just to have a quick look at the history, main cathedral, town square and a bit more of the scenery. I wasn’t disappointed. The town was beautiful and the buildings were amazing. It’s full of artists selling homemade clothes, toys, pictures, chocolates, jams and loads more.

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I wandered round the bay, had an ice cream then headed back to Ancud to get the bus early the next day.

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