Friday, 30 April 2010

The Chilian Lake District

Three people in the city of Osorno, Chile. Oren, Lilya & Me.
A large and busy city. None turistic. Our goal is to find a car-rental agency as soon as possible, and go see as many lakes as we can manage, in few days as we can plan it.
Looking at the maps, we thought we would be able to make it in 4-5 days. Looking at the city, we barely found a car-rental agency.
Finaly, we did. And after spending 1.5 days in the city, we started to drive south in our little Kia Morning.
First stop, Frutillar. A small town on the large lake of Llanquihue, which welcomed us with the most beautiful rainbow I have ever seen!
That night we slept at the larger, and more turistic town called Puerto Varas.
When we look for a place to stay, we usually look for the writings 'Hostel' (youth-hostel) or 'Hospedaje' which means a hostel, runned by a local family. Both are the chipest, but 'Hospedajas' are a better option for those who want to see the 'real' South America (like us).
Looking for a place to spend the night, preferring Hospedajas, we found a sign with the word 'Hospedaje' on it.
It turned out to be a labyrinth-like hostel in which you had climb very steep staircases and be very aware to where you were going, otherwise, you'd be lost forever. Nothing like a hospedaje.
From Puerto Varas, we drove to the small town called Ensenada. Up the road from the town stands the dreadful Volcan Osorno. Ensenada didn't want us to be scared, so she was kind enough to cover the scary volcan with clouds. We went to see the near 'Saltos Todos los Santos' instead. In one word, WOW! In more:
Imagin a black volcanic-rock plato, a pipe-like pathway, carved by the water just about 2-3 meter wide, and gallons of water just rushing through it in a stream as hard as Chuck Norris.
All that should have been with the view of the volcan. (We returned day next day, just to see the full picture).
From the Saltos, to the lake with the same name. Same story I'm afraid... great lake - no volcan.
Gathered info for the next day, and went of to see what we could see from the top of the road on the volcan. Nothing.
Returning to the town, to look for a host for the night, knowing it would be a better day tomorow. After a long search, and a lot of closed places (the end of the turist season), we found the perfect Hospidaje which this time stood by its name. A semi-grandmom señora (Silvia Aburto), a nice quiet, chilian home (Hospedaje Escala II).
Waking up, in a warm home, through the windows we could see we made the right choise. Three volcanos in sight. Which Brought up the question: Would you build your home where you can see three volcanos??
In this perfect day, we wanted to go for a long, 8hr, walk. after 5 hours of looking for a track, we thought we can try and see (again) what there is to see from the volcano. Beating the fog this time, we saw the sunset from the top of the road.
A night in Puerto Octay. Driving north, and Finaly (after cicaling around it), leaving lago Llanquihue. This day, seeing Volcan Puntiagudo in the morning, lago Rapunco at noon, lago Puyehue at the afternoon, and lago Ranco at sunset.
After a long drive, find a place to sleep in another perfect, and probably the only hospedaje in Paillaco. Owned by a very nice middleaged men, Breakfeast and everything!
On the last 'lakes' day we saw lago Panguipulli in the morning, but mainly drove around lao Calafquen. On the east coast of lago Calafquen, and on our way to lago Pellaifa, we checked out another place that said 'saltos' on the map, which turned out to be a river with 3 waterfalls near the road (but we were forced to pay an entrance to the national park up the road). The first waterfall is quite similar to the one we saw near Ensenada, but just as pretty. The second we did not manage to get to, because the trail somehow didn't lead us to it. And the third was about 70 meters high, and magnificent.
Farther up the road, caught us by surprise, a hotel from the fantacy world. Again, Wow.
By the time we got to lago Pellaifa, it was to dark.
Drove 2 more hours, till we got to Valdivia. Slept in a dirty hostel.
In the morning, we went for a walk around what was supposed to be a German, university city, as we were walking, we entered the Tourist-Information building.
Filled with what turned out to be the most useless info I ever got from anyone, we kept on walking in the general direction of the local fishmarket. Entering the fishmarket, Suddenly, we heard a strange sound/roar. A Sealion? The Tourist-Information didn't say anything about any Sealions in Valdivia?!
Walking closer to the giant animal, we were amazed to see more and more of them (atleast 20). This and more! Small vultures flying around the sky! Kormorans? Seagoals? lots of them.
We ended up ''wasting'' 2-3 hours around the fishmarket of Valdivia taking pictures, and animal watching the surrounding area.
With those amazing views, ended a 5 day drive around the Chilian Lake District.

Tips for the Chilian Lake District:
1. Osorno - A big city, but some places like the market and the Catedral in the Plasa de Armes are very pretty. In the market there are local restaurants you can eat in (Paila Marina is a fine dish).
2. Ensenada - The Homey Hospedaje 'Esacala II'.
3. Valdivia - Go to the Fishmarket! It's full with lots of beautiful animals, as discribed in the post above.

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