Several people had highly praised the cruise from Puerto Natales to Puerto Montt. Accordingly this should have been one of the absolute highlights of the trip.
To make it short: we were disappointed by the cruise. The weather was not good: the clouds hung very low almost all the time and we could not see much of the landscape. The new ship that should have come has not yet been extradited. We got a credit, but our ship was in a pathetic state. The ship is also used as a truck ferry because the south of Chile is not accessible by land through Chile.
During the cruise we have not seen any animals: no penguins, no seals, only a whale at a great distance, hardly any birds. The last two days were almost exclusively on the open sea or on very wide canals and you could not see the shore. In other words, the cruise, which should have been a highlight, was a small failure.
C’est la vie!
And that was our cabin, there wasn’t much room in it!
A nice distraction was Tai Chi on deck where Andre was covered up.
In Puerto Montt we picked up a rental car and drove to the island of Chiloe. There we stayed in Castro, the largest city on the island, and the roads leading to the port are very steep. At the harbour there are so-called Palafito houses (stilt houses). The fishing boats could go directly under the house and deliver the goods.
The island of Chiloe with its gentle green hills is reminiscent of Ireland. The island’s location has meant that the life, the places and especially the churches have retained much of their original character. Many wooden churches are UNESCO World Heritage Site Achao visited. The church builders had only wood at their disposal 400 years ago and therefore the churches are made of 100% wood. The whole structure is not held together with nails but with wooden dowels. In Curaco de Velez we ate excellent oysters and seafood and afterwards we have visited the wooden church of Tenaun. On February 3rd we drove from the island of Chiloe via the Panamericana to Pucon.
Pucon is located at the foot of the Villarica volcano on the beautiful Villarica Lake. Pucon used to be an insider tip for the rich looking for recreation and has meanwhile developed into a very touristy place. Unfortunately, for this reason, a number of ugly high-rise buildings are being built on the shores of the very beautiful lake. The travel guide warns against going to Pucon in February, because the city is totally crowded, and yes they are right. The city was totally crowded and there was always a queue in traffic jams or shops. And also on the arrival and departure we have been on the highway for a long time in traffic.
The city is dominated by the volcano Villarica which can be seen from everywhere, unfortunately mostly in the clouds. We hiked in the Parque Nacional Huerquehue to the Tres Lagos The path was steep, muddy because of the rain on the days before and full of tree roots. From the top had like a beautiful view of Lake Villarica and the volcano. And also the three lakes that gave the name to the hike were picturesque
Another trip with the rental car we have made to the enchanting Lago Caburgua, the two beaches Playa Nera and Playa Blanca were well visited but not as crowded as Pucon. A top attraction near Lago Caburgua is the Ojos del Caburgua, the eyes of the “Caburgua”. These huge spring basins with their intense azure color and several waterfalls are fed by an underground river that rises in Lago Caburgua. The infrastructure is very good with several wooden stairs and long wooden floors, so the tour is very easy despite the difficult terrain and several islands and canals.
In the afternoon we went to the volcano Villarica, where you can ski in winter. You could have climbed to the top of the volcano, but it would have taken several hours.
The area around Pucon is certainly attractive, but totally crowded.We drove back to Purto Montt. Andre was already there and found the city ugly.
The area around Pucon is certainly attractive, but totally crowded.We drove back to Purto Montt. Andre was already there and found the city ugly. However, the fish market San Angelmo is terrific and we enjoyed it in one of the numerous fish restaurants. Excellent quality at normal prices. Afterwards we passed the fish and seafood stalls. And our beloved Centolla (king crab) which we knew from Ushuaia could not be missing either. After we drove hundreds of kilometers with the rental car without problems, we unfortunately had a breakdown on the way back shortly before our hotel and Andre had to prove again his car mechanic qualities.
On 9th of February we flew almost 3000 km from Puerto Montt to Arica Upper North Chile with a stop over in Santiago.