A Travellerspoint blog

Summer in Chile - 2017

Chiloe Island and Penguins

Today was my re-scheduled trip to Chiloe Island. The tour bus had forgotten to pick me up yesterday, so today I was on a shorter version of the tour.
The day was overcast, not brilliant sunshine like yesterday, that was a shame, still, it didn't dampen my spirits.

To reach the island was a bus trip of around 2hours 15minutes from Puerto Montt to Ancud, the second largest town on the island.

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Chiloe Island Ferry

We arrive at the ferry which will take us across the Cachao channel to Chiloe Island and are able to drive straight on - that is what I call good timing! Once onboard, we all have to get out the bus, so we all head to the top story of the ferry to enjoy the 30 minute crossing. It was quite cold on this deck, I was glad I had a beanie and thick coat that kept me warm.

As we pulled away from the mainland, a cheeky seal surfaced near the ferry. Excitement rose amongst the passengers, binoculars appeared and eyes were on the water on the look-out for more. We were not disappointed, as near where we berthed on Chiloe Island were quite a few relaxing on a buoy. Happy with our sightings, it was back to the bus ready to begin our tour of Chiloe Island.

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As we pulled away from the ferry, our Tour Guide pointed out a large group of Black headed Swans feeding in the shallows. The are the largest waterfowl that is native to South America.
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Black Necked Swans

After a short drive, our tour along with several other tour companies made their first stop at the small village of Chacao. As it was founded in 1567, it is a very old town with some quaint shingled cottages painted in bright colours.

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Church of San Antonio de Chacao

There isn't a lot to see here, probably the Church of San Antonio de Chacao, the Plaza de Chacao, where two cannons from the Battery of Remolinos are displayed, and the market stalls where locals sell there wares are the main attractions.
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Chacao

Our guide told us Chiloe Island is full of legends and myths, and that the funny looking man you could have your photo taken with, was dressed as one of them.

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Dressed as a legend

By the time we reached St. Antonio Colonial Fort, rain had set in and it was pretty miserable weather. The fort system of Ancud along with other nearby forts, were one of the four fort systems that existed in colonial Chiloe. Ancud is made up of two forts and four batteries. Mainly canons and walls is what you see here, and far reaching views on a fine day.

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St. Antonio colonial fort

Our final stop before a late lunch (2pm - Normal for the Spanish) was a visit to the penguin colony in Puñihuil. We arrived in a nice sandy cove where lots of buses and people were, all here for the same reason and that was to see the small colony of Humboldt and Magellanic penguins that breed together on the small islands here. First we had to pay a fee, then we were suited up in life jackets ready for our boat trip.

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They have a novel way of loading people into their boats here. We were ushered into a trolley where we stood and some men pulled the trolley into the ocean and beside the boat, by doing this, all the tourists had dry feet.

There were quite a few small islands where the Penguins live and other birds as well, trouble was, the guide on this tour did not translate to English so I have no idea what I saw. As the day was dull, my photos didn't turn out like the ones on a sunny day you see advertising the tour.
Well, I still saw plenty and everybody got a good look and plenty of time for photos.

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Back on the beach a head count took place, then we were on the bus heading to our Restaurant for lunch.

The rain had stopped by now, so I had good views of the rolling hills where farmers grazed sheep and cattle, it really was very pretty countryside.
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Chiloe Island
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Chiloe Island

Lunch was at a Restaurant on a back road and was excellent! The Chileans sure eat big meals - I was struggling to get through my delicious Salmon, which came with fresh chips, a heap of onion, 2 eggs and salad.

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Salmon for lunch

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Seafood platter

With full stomachs and the sea air in our lungs, many went to sleep on the way back to Ancud, where we stopped for a break before making the journey back to Puerto Montt.

OK, it wasn't sunny, but it still was an interesting trip to do, and it was great seeing the Penguins in the wild!

Posted by balhannahrise 20:57 Archived in Chile Tagged landscape island day tour penguins chiloe Comments (4)

Summer in Chile - 2017

Day trip to Frutillar and Llanquihue

Today was one of "those" days!

Well before time, I was waiting at the end of the no through road to my unit for the tour bus to come and pick me up around 7am. I stood, I looked, I waited until after 8am, then went back to my unit to see if my host could find out what was going on. Lucky for me, she was just closing the door and on her way to work, so I had just managed to catch her. She rang the agency for me and I went back to wait. At 8.30am, she came running to me to tell me the tour bus had already gone and had forgotten to pick me up!
The tour company was most apologetic and promised to ring that night and sort things out with me.

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House at Llanquihue

As half of the morning had gone, I decided to take the local bus to Llanguihue and Frutillar today instead of later on.

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Sculpture @ Llanquihue

I hopped off the bus at the entrance of Llanquihue, a small city that lies on the western shore of Lake Llanquihue, I didn't know the town stretched a long way beside the main road and that I had a long walk to get to the main part of town.

Wooden sculptures created by chainsaw are a big feature in this town, although the huge sculpture at the town's entrance was made from metal and looked to feature a miner.

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I walked through the roadside park where many older wooden sculptures were on display.

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River Maullin

Still I walked and still the main part of town wasn't in sight. I passed by quite a big cemetery, then came across a park beside the River Maullin with more recent sculptures and a playground.
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Sculptures @ Llanquihue

Eventually I had reached the main part of the city! What I found here underneath a big covered area, was an International Wood Carving competition being held. There were some marvellous sculptures, I wouldn't like to be the one choosing the winner.

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Competition sculptures @ Llanquihue

I couldn't find anything else of interest, so I hailed a bus to take me to Frutillar, known as the "City of Music" and where the Germans settled in Chile

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Frutillar

My bus took me through the high part of Frutillar, (Frutillar Alto) a busy, not really attractive area. At that time I was wondering why people raved about Frutillar. Then we made our way downhill and drove to the other part of Frutillar, (Frutillar Bajo) which is beside Lake Llanquihue, this was the pretty part of Frutillar.

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Lake Llanquihue @ Frutillar

This area was packed with tourists and probably locals as many were swimming in the cold lake water. Houses had distinctive architecture, there were nice gardens, plenty of german named Restaurants and what looked to be a fairly new Theatre.

I wandered along the promenade taking in the views whilst enjoying an ice-cream, it was the "thing" to do!

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It was while I was walking the promenade that I noticed people inside a rotunda staring at the roof, of course, when they left I had to check out what they were looking at. Well, it turned out to be a very nice mural probably showing the first German settlers and what they grew at Frutillar.

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Murals at Frutillar

Instead of walking the same way back to the Bus station, I went one block back to walk along that street and found a garden exhibition being held in the German Colonial Museum of Frutillar, founded in 1981, in memory of German Immigration to the Los Lagos Region. For a small entrance fee, I was able to wander around this three-hectare park that tells the story of German settlers in the Llanquihue Lake starting from 1852.

Not only did I have lovely gardens to admire in a park-like setting, but old German houses. At the moment there are five, I believe more could be added. Llaveria is the first building when entering the Museum and is only a small building.

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Water Mill

Next was the Mill House or water mill with its big old wheel. In 1870, the original water mill stood in this very spot.

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German Colonial Museum -Water Mill

The country house was built in 1889 and sits in a prime position on a hill with wonderful views of Lake Llanquihue and its volcanoes . It was open so I was able to see what a typical German farm house looked like when built during the economic boom of that time. The interior was spacious and included living rooms, music room, large kitchen, bedrooms and other rooms, outside was a garden.

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Blacksmith's House and smithy and forge workshop was different altogether. It was a plain country house where the smithy worked for the owner of the estate. In his workshop were tools he would have used, like hammers, anvil, etc.

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Bell Tower

The Bell tower was interesting as it was a circular agricultural shed of Spanish style, used to store the bundles of wheat. Today on show were a variety of agricultural implements and domestic machines for manufacturing dairy products from days gone by. The name is very misleading!

Last but not least was the lovely established garden with talls trees, beds of Dahlias and other flowers, a pretty stream, lotus ponds and much more.
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German Colonial Museum of Frutillar

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It was a delight to wander around the garden, to see the old buildings, all made from shingles and to enjoy views over the lake and mountains.

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This concluded my day here, it was back on the bus and to Puerto Montt for another night.

Posted by balhannahrise 19:13 Archived in Chile Tagged gardens landscape murals museum day swimming tour trip Comments (4)

Summer in Chile - 2017

Day trip to Cochamo

Having slept in meant my choice of what to do today was made easy - Take the public bus to Cochamo.

When I read and saw photos of the pretty Cochamo Valley located in the Andes in the Los Lagos Region of Chile, I wished that I was much younger and healthier to be able to do the trekking that was on offer here. I read the valley was similar to Yosemite Valley, due to its granite domes and several 1,000 metre high granite walls, rare bird and plant life and a stunning landscape.
Even though I knew I wouldn't see any of this, I still decided on taking the local bus to the small town of Cochamo.

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Most were backpackers on the bus, I was the exception
As it happened I was sitting on the left side of the bus, not the best side for the views, so on the way back I made sure I sat on best side for the views, sadly the wind had come up on the fjord by then and all the beautiful reflections on the lake had disappeared.

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Cochamo

Cochamo is around 3hours travel by road from Puerto Montt. At the beginning travelling is along a sealed road, then it turns into a rough single lane dirt road with bridges only just wide enough for the bus to cross. When we met cars, one of us stopped and the other slowly edged past. The scenery was good most of the way, especially when we came to the Reloncaví Estuary, a fjord off Reloncaví Sound. Cochamo is located on this fjord.

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Reloncaví Estuary

Alighting from the bus, I made my way to the Information centre first for help, that was a waste of time as there weren't any brochures, only a man who could speak Spanish and nothing else.

Next was to find food for lunch, that was a problem too, so I ended up going to a shop and buying an ice cream for lunch.

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Cochamo shop

From the main road, all roads led downhill to the fjord. I was very surprised to find a brand new waterfront area with nice paving, lamps and plenty of seating, just the place for me to sit and eat my ice cream whilst enjoying the water and mountain views. It was so peaceful here, a bit like time had stood still but for the new esplanade area.

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Reloncaví Estuary
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Reloncaví Estuary

On the way back up the hill, I stopped and looked inside the small Iglesia Imaculada Concepcion de Cochamó Catholic church. It was built over 105 years ago from wood as this was the only construction material available here. Long, narrow, thin shingles made of alerce wood and overlapped to keep out the rain is typical Chilote architectural style.

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Iglesia Imaculada Concepcion de Cochamó Catholic church

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Iglesia Imaculada Concepcion de Cochamó Catholic church

It was time to finish climbing the hill and to make my way to the main road where the bus stop was located. I only had to wait 5 minutes and the bus was there and I was on my way back to Puerto Montt.

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Near Cochamo

I enjoyed this trip and it was very cheap, in fact hard to imagine the round trip of 186 kms only cost me around $10 Australian return.

Posted by balhannahrise 22:51 Archived in Chile Tagged landscapes fishing hiking fjords scenery road trip boating Comments (7)

Summer in Chile - 2017

Day tour from Puerto Varas

It was on my second day at Puerto Montt that I booked and did the "Petrohue Waterfalls and the Osorno Volcano" tour from Puerto Varas.

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Llama

The tour began at 10am at Puerto Varas. A group of tourists from Latin American countries, filled the nice clean mini-bus ready for what should be a great tour. The guide was attentive and made sure I didn't miss out on anything and always spoke in Spanish and then repeated the information in English for me.

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Feeding the friendly Llamas

From Puerto Varas, we followed the shore-line of picturesque Lake Llanquihue until our first tourist stop where we could pat and feed Llamas. It was interesting viewing these animals close up and seeing their large eye-lashes which would be the envy of many women. The Llamas knew all about tourists coming with food for them!

Well, that brought a smile to everybody's face. Back in the bus again, we travelled past more wonderful scenery on our way to Vicente Perez Rosales National Park to see the cascades or falls of the Petrohue River that were formed by a volcanic eruption. After travelling along a rough, bone shattering road, we eventually reached the Park Headquarters where we disembarked and were told we could have an hour to explore the National Park. Our entrance fee wasn't included in the tour price.

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Petrohue Falls

The falls were magnificent! They are not like most waterfalls as they are a chute-type waterfall that passes through a narrow opening in the basaltic lava which originally came from the Osorno Volcano that sits in between Todos los Santos and Llanquihue Lake.

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Petrohue Falls

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Petrohue Falls

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Petrohue Falls

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Petrohue Falls

There was a torrent of pretty blue/green water gushing through this narrow opening and this was summer, imagine what it would be like after rain and snow melts!

As I still had plenty of time left, I followed the other trails and found more pretty areas where you could swim and sunbathe, a secluded area where the water was calm, and a lovely area where lichen was growing on the trees and the cliff face. There were plenty of people here and I could see why this area was so popular.

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Vicente Perez Rosales National Park

Back in the bus and another short drive further along the bumpy road to Todos los Santos Lake, also located within Vicente Perez Rosales National Park.
Here the optional extra was doing a boat cruise or staying on land, I chose the latter because it was quite cool and very windy, not the best day for a lake cruise.

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Todos los Santos Lake

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Todos los Santos Lake

The lake is also known as All Saints Lake or Lago Esmeralda, which means Emerald Lake, due to its emerald green colour. The lake covers an area of around 69 square miles, and it has a maximum depth of about 1,105 feet, it flows into the Petrohue River and the Petrohue Waterfalls where we had just come from.

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Chateaus at Todos los Santos Lake

I walked around admiring the big Chateaus where people came to stay to go boating, kayaking, rafting, swimming, fishing, hiking, animal/bird watching or just relaxing in this beautiful area.

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Museum

I didn't go into the Museum, but I did admire the architecture of the building.

When the others arrived back from their boat cruise feeling rather cold, I was glad I had stayed on land. Unfortunately, the bus had to travel back along the same bone-shattering road until we reached sealed surface which took us to the town of Ensenada where we went to a Restaurant for a buffet lunch. This wasn't included in the tour price either, but was well worth the money.

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Excellent lunch

What a spread.............
Everything from soup, bbq meat on a big spit, hot food, a big choice of cold food and salads and a big array of desserts. Tea and coffee was included in the price.

After a very satisfying lunch, we were back in the bus and making our way to the last stop of the day - The Osorno Volcano. This is just how I imagined a volcano should look like. At 2,661metres above sea level, the perfectly conical shaped shaped volcano with snow on its peak I had seen from many view points on my tour today. Now, our bus was winding its way around many switchbacks to finally reach the chalet and the ski-lifts.

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Osorno Volcano

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Osorno Volcano

If you come here, wear something warm as it was quite cold. The views were fabulous, just a pity there was so much smoke from the fires around. After a hot chocolate to warm me up, I went for a walk to see views in another direction. If your in the area, visiting this volcano should not be missed.

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Views from Osorno Volcano

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Views from Osorno Volcano

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Views from Osorno Volcano

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Views from Osorno Volcano

Views were good on the way down and up, we also saw Andean birch aged between 4,000 and 5,000 years old growing. I didn't see any fauna, although they say the volcano is home to the Patagonian skunk and fox, the quique (a kind of ferret), Puma and the long-muzzled weasel.

This completed a wonderful day tour of a very scenic area in the Lakes District of Southern Chile

Posted by balhannahrise 17:22 Archived in Chile Tagged landscapes waterfalls lakes animals food scenery day tour petrohue orsono volacano Comments (2)

Summer in Chile - 2017

Puerto Montt

For as long as I can remember, South America has been on my travel wish list. Lucky for me, I overheard a friend saying the airfares were cheap and he was going to South America. After asking a few questions, I headed home to find the website and book my airfare.

Fast forward to February, 2017, and I was on the long haul flight to Santiago, Chile.

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New Zealand Airport

My first flight was from Brisbane to Sydney, Australia, then I changed to LATAM Airlines and was on my way across the Tasman Sea to Auckland, New Zealand where I had another stop to change planes yet again before I arrived in Santiago, Chile at 1.30pm.

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Nearing Santiago Airport


I then waited 5 hours for my Sky Airlines flight to Puerto Montt in Southern Chile.

My flight to Santiago was good, especially as it was in a new Dreamliner aircraft with the most modern features available, plenty of leg room, nice stewards and good food.

Sadly, huge bushfires were burning out of control in Chile and there was dense smoke that made the Andes mountain range difficult to see.

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View from the plane - Puerto Montt area

Puerto Montt is a port city, located 1,055 km to the south of the capital, Santiago. In 1853, the Germans settled here. It wasn't long before it became the gateway city into Chiloé Archipelago, Llanquihue and Nahuel Huapi lakes and Western Patagonia.

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Typical Puerto Montt house

I had booked a room at B&B Mi Casa in Puerto Montt. Most people stay in nearby Puerto Varas, but I decided as it was much cheaper to stay at Puerto Montt, this is where I would stay. The shuttle bus dropped me off at the designated bus stop where I was met by my hosts, a very friendly brother and sister I was thankful to see as it was dark by now.
My room was only small, but did have a shower and toilet, and I could use all the facilities in the house. As I would be out all day, the small room didn't matter. The bed was comfortable and the area was quiet and in a good position.

Getting around from Puerto Montt was very easy. Small mini-buses with signs on where they were going, plied the main highway at least every 5 minutes.

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Mini Bus at Puerto Montt

A big plus was the bus-stop was across the road from my accommodation and the fares were cheap, all I had to do was hail the bus and pay 900 pesos for the 20km trip to Puerto Varas. All my drivers were good except for one who threw my 100 pesos change on the floor of the bus so I had to bend down and pick it up. I had read about this before leaving home. "Gringos" as we are known by, are given this treatment. Even though I knew it could happen, when it did, it still came as a shock.

I did walk to the main part of the city and found it to be very busy. There was a market in full swing, a big, busy Bus station, a nice esplanade and impressive cathedral.

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Puerto Montt Esplanade

I was lucky to be taken to a look-out point where I had wonderful views over the city and surrounding area.

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Puerto Montt look-out

As for the rest of Puerto Montt, well there really wasn't much more to report, after all, it is a very busy port city.

Posted by balhannahrise 01:23 Archived in Chile Tagged landscapes cities south america puerto montt Comments (4)

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