Sunday, November 9, 2014

Mountains and Waterfalls

It's hard to go wrong when that is all you see every day!  We have had some incredible downpour rain over the last few weeks, but it's beautiful and when the sun muscles it's way through those clouds.  The views are absolutely stunning!
A nice surprise was to discover that José Ibarra, one of our students from our last Santiago CrossFit seminar, lives and works in Puerto Varas!  Great to visit him while we were here!
Our first adventures here began with a gorgeous drive up to the crystal blue waters of the river, Saltos del Petrohué, flowing out of Todos los Santos Lake, a gateway ferry crossing to the border of Argentina.  The water in this river is unique in its clear aqua color.  I have never seen a river the color of the Caribbean sea!

Volcán Osorno is a 2,652m (8,700 ft) tall conical volcano near Puerto Montt. It is on the southeastern shore of Lake Llanquihue, where we have spent a lot of time exploring. Osorno has a similar appearance to Mount Fuji and is one of the most active volcanoes of the southern Chilean Andes.  We caught it on a late Spring sleet and snow storm, but the statue in Puerto Varas gave us hope that it can be stunning at the head of the lake!

 After our tour around Lake Llanquihue and a nice camp in Puerto Octay, we jetted back up to Pucòn to catch the one forecasted day of sun to try to summit Volcán Villarrica.  After much ado in getting some proof that we have climbing and mountaineering experience, thanks to a nice letter from friends of the United States Park Service, we were granted permission to climb the volcano without a guide!
Some pretty stiff 50 mph winds kept things interesting for the climb up, but the views were incredible!  Volcanoes have such an awesome view!  I highly recommend everyone get up on one to check it out!
Mission accomplished, we headed around the mountain and down to Coñaripe, the land of Termas (thermal pools).  While exploring back roads that made us glad we had our 4-wheel drive van, discoveries of amazing waterfalls with thermal hot springs everywhere.  This was a welcome respite to the end of our journey for this day!  Hard to believe this place is real, it's so beautiful!

 "Pull the door handle and we will come to help you."  A door knob attached to a wire and a camera leading to someone's house up on the hill.  Lucky them, they live in the forest at the base of a volcano and it happens to be property that has thermal activity.  Trap the water in a big wooden tub, put up a door knob, and you have a business!
A great overview on Google Earth of our roads and the proximity to incredible volcanoes, lakes, and the Andes mountain range, with Argentina ever present over our shoulder.  The area around and between Ranco Lake and the smaller lake to the East, Lake Maihue, is rugged and remote, but yet people are back in there with their farms and have a beautiful life at the base of the Andes.

Scott told us about this crazy hotel that he saw on the internet (one of the top 10 most extreme hotels in the world, and most weird and wonderful), and it so happened to be in Chile.  We saw La Montaña Magica Lodge as we were driving way back in the Lake District, on a back forest road in the Huilo Huilo nature preserve.  It felt like we were looking at something from the Hobbit, back in the Shire.  13 of the rooms are reached by a suspension bridge and further into the summer, it's covered in more green foliage. Cool place and fun to see something that one of our friends had spotted before we ever got here!
Beautiful camp spot out on a river near Puerto Fuy.

We have thoroughly enjoyed our days in Chile's Zona Sur (Lake District to us tourists).  It's a region of lush farmland, dense forest, snowcapped volcanoes and deep, clear lakes, hidden for the most part in the mountains.
We can see why it's often called "Chile's Yosemite", with the sheer rock precipices and huge monoliths up in the mountains.  It's hard to get the scale and intense beauty of this place in a photo or short video, but hopefully we have been able to share a glimpse into it for those following our journey.
Now it is time to get back to work!  CrossFit Peru Level 1 seminar in Lima with Fernando and Tefy!


On our return, we will head into the islands and fjords of Southern Chile! Moving from the Araucanía (homeland of the Mapuche and Araucanía people) and Lakes district to the Patagonia region of el Sur.
For now, good night!
South Central Chile Photo Album