A Moment In...Pichilemu and The Lake District
We planned on writing a lovely account of our drive south through the Lake District to accompany the photos that we took. However, our trip seems to be filled with highly dramatic encounters that keep interrupting this process. So we have chosen to scrap the post and show you the pictures with only a brief description of each place …(we imagine that you’d rather hear about our escape from an erupting Volcano than our relaxing days by the beach, and nature walks anyways).
Pichilemu is a sleepy little surf town on the coast of Chile. Palm trees, sandy beaches and huge swells pepper the shores, often shrouded in a heavy mist while the sun beats down from above. We spent several days in Pichilemu waiting for our car to be repaired. Our anxiety over the state of Marquito was wonderfully countered by the relaxed energy of the town, drowning out our worries in sunshine, freshly fried empanadas, good conversations and cheap wine. After several days of languishing in the sun, a new battery and a repaired wire, we said goodbye to our friends at Royal Surf Hostel and turned our attention toward the road out. We were ready to head south.
Road Down South
The road down south was a chance for us to cut our teeth on wild camping. With no infrastructure and never quite knowing whether we were allowed to park there or not, our foremost night was filled with first time butterflies and anxieties. We pulled off the highway as the light started to dim, down a gravel pull out a little too close to the road for comfort. But we were treated with striking views of a river and the mountains and once the stars came out the roar of the highway became but background music.
Villarrica is a beautiful little town nestled on the edge of a lake bearing its namesake. Dark green forest curtain the small houses and quaint cabanas dotted around the water, while Volcano Villarrica juts out into the skyline. Having erupted recently, Volcano Villarrica continues to emit small wisps of smoke, and at night a faint red glow can be detected at its tip– a gentle reminder of the volatile forces bubbling below. One evening while we sat on a dock, we engaged in a casual conversation about volcanic eruptions: lamenting that we had missed what we had heard was a spectacular eruption less than a month earlier. These would be words that we would have to swallow a little under two weeks later. But at the time, watching the sky fade to black around the Volcano, our gently feet swinging above the water, we were certain we had missed out. We passed many days lakeside, exploring the surrounding forests, entertaining the animals that frequented the campsite and appreciating the diverse beauty that is Chile’s Lake District.
Missing the wildness of the ocean air, we continued our zig-zag path down south and headed towards Valdivia. Valdivia is a city encased by water. Situated near the ocean, the city is located at the convergence of three rivers. A natural candidate for a trade center, the riverfront of Valdivia features a thriving fishing community as well a plethora of noisy sea lions. The impressively large creatures patrol the river; hoist themselves up onto the docks to catch the scraps of fish as they fly through air, after passing through the knives of the fish merchants. In the mid 1800’s, the Chilean government welcomed the immigration of German citizens to encourage a selective level of agricultural practices, technology and industry to the country. Although the influence can be spotted in many areas of Chile, we noticed it greatly in Valdivia, creeping into the architecture of homes, echoing in the names of restaurants and goods offered. We marveled at the novelty of drinking a cerveza (beer) in a building with the slogan “Das Gute Bier” written on it in the middle a Chilean city. We spent the majority of our time outside of the city, following the winding, wonderfully hilly Ruta Del Mar to the coast where we parked ourselves by the beach and reacquainted ourselves with all the reasons we love the sea.
Once again our gaze shifted south, and we set our sights on reaching Puerto Varas and the expansive waters of Lago Llanquihue. The landscape is truly stunning: clear blue water stretching out far enough to give the appearance of an ocean, idyllic green hills and farm lands peppered with cows, while beyond the lake the silhouettes of three Volcano’s tower over an otherwise flat topography. The most striking is Volcano Osorno, with its pointed top covered in white snow, it looks similar to a Chilean Mount Fuji, and all the more picturesque when reflected in the lake below. To the side lies Volcano Calbuco, a sight we appreciated but tended to ignore in favor of the stunning vision that is Osorno. Towards the end of our stay in Puerto Vara’s Calbuco would make its presence absolutely unforgettable in the most dramatic way possible. However, that is a blog post unto itself, and one that is currently being written to coincide with our epic footage. In the meantime, we present the photos of our otherwise calm endeavours in the picturesque adventure town of Puerto Varas and the surrounding countryside.