Monday, 20 February 2012

On the waterfront

Finally DH is officially prevented from going to work due to the annual closure of the university so our summer holiday proper may commence... and not before time.
Our first foray out of Santiago last week was to the much-lauded Region of the Lakes in the south of the country, beyond the forests of monkey-puzzle trees and meandering rivers but just preceding Patagonia. Every Chilean raves about the lakes, the south in general and we had only heard good things about it. Thus we flew to Puerto Montt then immediately drove in a hired car to Puerto Varas, a pleasant and useful place to base oneself right on the edge of the majestic Lago Llanquihue. From our window we could enjoy unobstructed views of the immense lake, its pebbly beaches and most dramatically of all, the snow-capped, almost perfectly conical Volcano Osorno on the horizon. That would probably have been enough to please many but there was much more to be discovered...
A short drive west led to the picturesque town of Frutillar, immaculately preserved as the first German settlers constructed it with wooden houses, neatly trimmed rosebushes and perfect window boxes providing a chocolate-box image of a lakeside resort. Again however the volcano was the prime attraction, looming largely over the still water and dominating the pretty but slightly artificial town with its natural beauty. Venturing further north still, we encountered Puerto Octay, a quiet but more real fishing village set on a natural peninsula which provided a secluded and beautiful beach on which to set up camp for a morning, search for stones and watch the fishermen (trying not to disturb them of course).
The second leg of our trip involved driving towards the Argentine border beyond paved roads for a considerable distance to Petrohue', situated on one side of the truly spectacular Lago Todos Los Santos. It was a shimmering green lake practically at the foot of the omnipresent volcano, whose last eruption provided much of the black rubble surrounding the shore. Hugely atmospheric setting, clouded only by coachloads and campervans of tourists eager to enjoy the natural panorama in Chile's most-visited national park. Definitely to be seen out of season... Our lodge at Petrohue' was comfortable and had nice touches such as inviting sofas around open fireplaces although it was run by a group of young people who evidently hadn't made a great deal of provision for families. Not their fault of course as it was a hiker's paradise. In fact when the rain came and didn't stop for the last day and a half of our stay, plenty of technical waterproofs were in evidence from the more intrepid outdoors folk who had planned for every eventuality. The girls were delighted to wear their raincoats which had otherwise been gathering dust since our arrival in Chile and I must confess to enjoying seeing rain again after months and months. However waterproofs and trainers are not my ideal exclusive holiday equipment and by the second day of incessant rain the novelty was rapidly wearing off. It was fun for a while but we were all glad to be back in the summer of February in Santiago, where we were able to peel off the layers on arrival, putting the raincoats away and reacclimatising to natural heat again...

No comments:

Post a Comment