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 BICYCLE TOURING - An Active Journey in Patagonia

 

Bicycling in Patagonia

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Puerto Varas to Alerce Andino National Park

Puerto Varas to the Valcono Osrono

Orsorno Volcano to Las cascadas/Waterfalls

Ensenada to Puerto Varas

Ensenada to Puerto Varas

Puerto Varas to Puerto Octay

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

..since it was a bike trip of course there was cycling.. 

 

..completed the climb to the top of a lava flow near the Osorno volcano...

The adventure in Chile 

car free adventure __________________________

 

 

 ...the volcano Osorno....

My wife convinced me to visit Machu Picchu.  Our previous cycling trips had been in Europe.  On those occasions I had designed my own bike rides.  I believed if I planned poorly the locals would save me.  In South America I was not so sure.

 

The trip to Peru was a great success.  It was time to cycle the world.  We could cycle in the northern hemisphere in summer and the southern in winter.  Chile was selected for our first winter adventure.         

 

I continued to be insecure.  I knew nothing about Chile.  We opted for a bicycle tour we found on the web, "Actives Journeys." The price was reasonable, they promised to take care of us so we signed on.    

 

Their website told us:  (1) Mountain Bikes and entrance fees to National Parks are included.  (2) All of our trips are van supported. (3) Our guides are local residents who have traveled extensively throughout the country. They are multilingual, trained in first aid and cycling. And, (4) All travel in remote areas involves some risk and the unknown.  We believe that part of the reason you are joining us is to experience the adventures of exploring and discovering Patagonia.  

 

We had to fly to Santiago, Chile and then transfer to a flight to Puerto Mott where the tour began.  We wanted to use our air-miles but to do so we had to juggle the dates around the Active Journeys dates.  We solved the problem by planning an "acclimation" week in Santiago to visit the sites as we always had done on our European adventures. 

 

After our acclimation week we flew to Puerto Mott to start our bicycle tour.  We landed in Puerto Mott, got our luggage and headed to meet our guide, driver and the other tour members. 

 

Another worry I had about not doing my own trip design was what would be the attitude of our companions.  We joined our group in the hotel lobby to walk to a get acquainted dinner at a local restaurant.  We had the usual “pesco sour” which we had become accustomed to on our trip to Machu Picchu.   

 

Our guide, a young German woman, gave us a welcome speech and toast followed by a “what was planed for tomorrow” outline.  Our driver was from Chile.  A married couple and their friend completed our group. 

 

We hit off immediately with the Canadians.  They had a good sense of humor, were interesting to talk to and we were to discover on our trek together in Chile did not complain and were up for anything.   

 

OK!  The country was beautiful, our companions were great.  Tomorrow we start our adventure in Chile.  How would Active Journeys really perform? 

 

...the Canadians, my wife and I and our guide preparing to bicycle...

 

 ..view of Porto Varas and Lago Llanquihue from the hotel...

 

 ...our hikes often included opportunities to practice the skill of walking on logs across roaring rivers...

...survived a hike through the water for a few hundred yards to visit these beautiful falls..

 

...a few miles up river by boat followed by a hike back through the rain forest...

....hiking to the top of the lava flow on Osorno...

   

.....our guide and driver ….we are the tourists in bright green.. 

..the picnic on the river beach in Pantagonia....the Canadians were a great group to share physical trauma with. They all had an excellent sense of humor.  Not a “complainer” in the bunch. Our impressions of our companions would be reinforced several times during the next 5 days.



Day 1 - Puerto Varas to Alerce Andino National Park

       

..at the start of our climb up a lava flow at the base of the volcano Calbuco... 

...many of our hikes included crossing streams on log bridges...

..it was up and down following the volcano's lava flow...

...taking a break on our hike along the lava flow to enjoy lunch...

Plan for the day -   We will select and checkout the bikes we plan to ride on the "riding days" of the tour in the morning at a bike rental shop in Puerto Varas.  We will spend some time acclimating to our bikes and then get back into the van to head for the Alerce Andino National Park.  There we will hike 12km or 8 miles up one of the lava flows at the foot of the volcano Calbuco.

 

Tour description:  We get into the van and drive to Puerto Montt heading south along the Pacific Coast.  Once we have arrived at the National Park, we hike along marked trails to the lava flow.  We will be hiking in the middle of an evergreen rain forest which becomes denser the deeper we go.  We visit peaceful lagoons amid the giant Alerce trees and a falls before returning by van to Puerto Varas for the evening.  

 

Getting started - We were picked up by our guide at the hotel after a very large enjoyable buffet breakfast.  The breakfast reminded me of those during our Eastern Europe bicycle adventure.  Every type of fruit, cereal, lunch meat, scrambled eggs and sausage, coffee, juice, etc. was offered. 

 

We started the "who are you discussions" with our fellow travelers and found them to be very receptive.  Having avoided signing onto "tours" in the past  I had been sure that we would be with a large group of boring people on this trip.  The group that we travelled with in Chile was a wonderful surprise.

 

Today’s adventure - We left the hotel in the van and drove to a bike shop (someone's home) to select our bikes and have them fitted. They were specialized bikes which were all purpose types like those we saw along the bike paths we were riding on in Eastern Europe. 

These had springs in the front. That may say something about the roads in Chile.  We added our toe clips which we brought from the States to the crank of our bikes.  The seats were ok and even though I had brought a seat from home I went with what they provided on the bike.  I added a mirror to the handle bar.  It actually fit into the end of the handle bar and extended out from the bike.  I have gotten so used to using a mirror that I am a little uncomfortable without one.   

 

I put my bike shoes on and rode my bike.  Number 23.  My wife took number 13 which spooked me a little but we rode some pretty “horrible” (not bad) stuff during our days on the road in Chile and we never went down.  (Note the term horrible was not used to describe a mountain bike trail but on the road!) 

 

I rode my bike around the streets a bit and tried shifting the gears.  I rode along some gravel streets to see how I reacted and then rode the bike back to the shop (store).  After everyone had selected and adjusted their bikes to their liking we got back into the van to drive to the trail head where we would begin our hike up the lava flow.    

 

We exited the van at the Park's parking lot, collected what we would carry and began the hike to the start of the climb up the lava flow.  When we reached the trail head we stopped at a hut where we signed in so the locals would know how many were on the trail and hopefully where to look for us if we did not return.

 

We began our "active journey" to the lava flow.  After a short distance we crossed a river (about 25 yards in width).  We crossed on a narrow "one log" bridge with a railing attached to its side to help to as one navigated on one log.  It was a balancing act from step to step as I walked to the opposite shore.  To add to the excitement the railing was divided.  The railing stopped about half way across the log and a second continued to the end of the log. 

 

When I reached the middle of the log I had to reach for the second half which was exciting. The supports for the railing were spaced under the railing so that there was no support at the break!  As I walked past the last support of the first half of the railing, it began to bend and then when I reached for the second half it was wobbly.  The rushing water running over large rocks about three feet below my feet was an added incentive to stay on the log. Circus Olay I am ready!

 

The trail along the lava flow was up and down over wet lava rock which included mud in places.  Much of the water and mud were found on the rocks as I climbed and I thought to myself that on the way back it could be very slippery on the down hill.  Our path was not for the weak at heart. 

 

We exited the heavy rain forest and crossed another log bridge.  This one had two logs with planks holding them together.  We were veterans of the single log. We could have run across this bridge. 

 

Immediately after the bridge we were facing a large 100 foot climb up the end of a lava flow.  The lava had obviously flowed down from the volcano and cooled sufficiently at this point that it could not continue.  The wall leaned away from us at a 60 degree angle and was covered wet lava rocks that provided foot holds.  Interspersed between the rocks were accumulations of dirt covered with low growing vegetation (grass in many places) which had to be negotiated on the climb.  I was concerned about a sudden knee twist but what the hey.  I should have brought a knee brace which I later placed on the Lessons Learned List! 

 

We all made it to the top and sat out along the lava flow we had climbed onto.  The rest of the trip to the base of the volcano would be less exciting.  The route along the lava flow was not flat but the undulations were mild. 

 

We had been given a huge lunch that I carried in my backpack at the parking lot before we left the van.  We stopped and ate in an open area much like any National Forest in the states.  We sat on rocks and told stories, asked questions of the guide.  We headed off after our respite. 

 

The Canadian couple said they had had enough.  The husband was concerned about bad knees and they decided not to continue.  I could relate having a bad knee myself.   

 

It was pretty much the same up and down trek along the lava flow.  We reached the look out which was the goal of our hike.  We sat, munched on leftovers from lunch, took in the view and took pictures.  After about 30 minutes we headed back.  Down hill on bad knee is the worst and climbing up always looks easier than climbing down.

 

Our return hike went without difficulty.  We negotiated the two lane bridge, the decent over the muddy lava rocks and traversed the single log without incident.  We reached the trail head and then on to the parking lot.  The two Canadians who had stopped had gone back ahead of us as we agreed at lunch.  We caught a glimpse of them at the log bridge as we were coming back. 

 

On the way back to the parking lot our guide diverted us on a short walk to water  falls.  The guide estimated them to be about 120 feet high and they were spectacular.  They were located in a curved walled in area.  We stood across from the falls looking at the water tumbling 120 feet to the river below.  It was a grand view.

 

We left the falls and headed for the parking lot.  We arrived at the parking, got into the van and headed back to Puerto Varas to our hotel. 

 

Today’s landscape - We hiked for a time in lush green foliage until we reached the lava flow.  The surroundings and the river were stunningly beautiful. We began the hike through dense foliage. 

 

The plants and trees obscured the sun.  Note I said sun.  We were experiencing our good fortune on the road again.  In response to a question about the weather in Chile on the National Geographic website the weather in Chile was described as similar to Portland, Oregon.  The weather could provide all four seasons on any one day.

 

We passed a Salmon farm as we entered the trail to the sign-in shack .  Salomon farming I was to learn had become a big cash crop in Chile.  There was a helicopter setting on a pad a short distance further along which I assumed was there to rescue me if I had problems.  I was to learn that the salmon people used to helicopter to fly the salmon to market.  It seemed to have become a preferable method over trucking them out. 

 

As we walked (hiked) I asked the guide if this was a rain forest.  She said of course in a manner which suggested I had the intellect of a fool.  She went on to show us various plants along the trail that were so thick when the Germans arrived that they were unable to walk inland until paths had been cut.   

 

Bicycling notes - The tour had rented specialized bikes which were all purpose types like those we saw along the bike paths in Eastern Europe.  They had springs in the front.  We added our clips to the crank.  The seats were fine and even though I had brought a seat I went with what they had.  In passing I slathered on chammy butter every day and I still developed soreness in my groin area.  I added a mirror to the handle bar.  It actually fit into the end of the handle bar and extended out from the bike.  I have gotten so used to using a mirror that I am a little uncomfortable without one.   

 

I put my bike shoes on and rode my bike.  Number 23.  My wife took number 13 which spooked me a little but we rode some pretty “horrible” (not bad) stuff and we never went down.  (Note horrible was not on a mountain bike trail but on the road!) 

 

I rode my bike around the streets a bit and tried the gears, rode on some gravel streets to see how I reacted and then took it back to store.  Our first bike ride would be tomorrow.  When everyone had selected and adjusted their bike, we got back into the van to drive to the trail head where we would begin the day's hike.   

 

I had decided to use the bike seat provided by the bike shop in Chile rather than the one I had brought with me from the States.  I slathered on the chammy butter every day we rode in Chile as I do when I ride in the States.  I still developed soreness in my groin area during the ride in Chile.  I should have used the bike seat that I use everyday that I brought from the States. If the trip had been longer I may have had to stop riding.

 

During our first day with the tour I got the idea that I was at Club Med where life and limb were not the highest priority.  I would be challenged to do more than I thought I could and the experience would generate an incredible rush. 

 

That first day changed my understanding of “Active Journeys.”  I began to believe that I was on a tour which would evolve if I did.  If I proved to the guide that I could do more than was planned for the day then she would provide more.  This impression was proven out over and over again as our week in Chile progressed. 

 

Our six mile hike the first day did not seem like much to me.  I bicycle 25 for training each day.  When we reached the lookout on the lava trail and were looking at the Volcano, the guide told us it would be a two day hike to the summit from that point with overnight stays.

 

As we looked at the volcano from the overlook we had a great view.  It gave one the impression the volcano was right there a few hundred feet ahead. The same allusion I had experienced in Trinidad, Colorado. A friend and I decided to walk the short distance from the middle of Trinidad to the top of Fisher’s Peak which looked like it was "right there." 

 

After 6 hours we were about 4 hills from the bottom and I had completely destroyed by shoes and we had no water.  It had looked like it was just a mile and a half away! I grew up in the east and had no understanding about distance looking at a mountain in the distance.  The volcano was miles ahead of us.

 

I had sympathy for the Canadian who had stopped because of bad knees.  I have a bad knee as the result of my pre-cycling running career.  I ran in various races and two marathons before developing a cartilage problem in one knee.  My bad knee had left me alone on our 6 mile hike to see the volcano.

 

Post ride activity - I begged off going out to dinner. Bren went and the Canadians went back into the town for dinner while I ate the remainder of my lunch.  The food that the tour provided was enough to feed twice the number.  Must be lessons learned to keep them fed and they will be happy.   

 

return

 

     

 ..we climbed steep muddy rock faces as we made our way up the lava flow...my hiking boots and sticks saved me... 

 ...a view of the lava flow which indicates the climbing required to reach the position where the photo was taken...  

 ...returning to the van after our "lava flow" hiking adventure our guide treated us to a water fall...  



 Day 2 - Puerto Varas to the Valcano Osorno

       

...the Volcano Osorno is our destination today, but we get there "by van"

...we collected our bikes from the rental shop and went for a 20 mile ride along the Lake ...

...we paused for lunch laid out by our support crew... 

...we rode along Lake  Lianquihue to the town of Ensenada our goal for the ride... 

Plan for the day - Today we leave Puerto Varas by bike for an easy ride along Lake Llanquihue with snow-capped volcanoes of the Andes in the distance.  We bicycle from Puerto Varas for about 45km or 20 miles to Ensenada.  We will store the bikes at the hotel in Ensenada where we are scheduled to stay the following day.  

 

After we store our bikes at the hotel in Ensenada we travel up the Volcano in the van.  Our guide has told us that as we gain altitude we will be treated to breathtaking views of the Volcano Osorno and the surrounding area.  

 

We spend the night at a tourist area located on the side of the volcano lovingly called the "Hut."  The "hut" is a cozy mountain refuge at an altitude of 1300 meters above sea level.  After checking into the "Hut" we will change into our hiking clothes and hike on the surface of the volcano’s sculpted lava.  With a bit of luck we will enjoy the colorful sunset over Lake Llanquihue.  After touring the area we will return to the "Hut" for our evening meal and a night of rest.   

 

Getting started - We got up and dressed in our bike clothes.  We would be staying at the foot of the Volcano tonight so we packed up all our stuff to take down to the van and headed for the dining room for breakfast.  

 

The hotel offered a full buffet.  Our choices consisted of eggs, bread, jelly, meat, cheese, coffee, etc ,etc.  It was my favorite kind of breakfast and a great way to start the day.  I tasted everything.  

 

The Canadians joined us at our table for breakfast and we discussed what was happening in the US and Canada. We had a great view from the dining room of Lake Llanquihue while we ate our breakfast. When we finished our breakfast we returned to our rooms to collect our luggage and waited for the van out front.  The van picked us up and drove us to the "bike shop" to get our bikes.

 

Today’s adventure - Today's adventure began at the bike shop.  Once the group had retrieved their bikes our guide joined us on her bike in the driveway of the shop.  We headed down the side street the shop was located on to the road which would take us along the edge of Lake Lianquihue and out of Puerto Varas.   

 

The exit from Puerto Varas was a bit tedious.  The traffic was heavy and the road did not support cars and bicycles.  There was no shoulder or bike path.  We played mongoose and snake with the traffic as we rode.  We exited Puerto Varas and continued along the lake.  The traffic congestion improved dramatically and we were soon by ourselves riding along the Lake.  

 

We took a short break at a set of tables and chairs at a small eating place beside the road.  Our guide had given each of us snacks to carry in our bike trunks. We selected a snack to munch on as we discussed politics in the United States.  The other male participant on the tour was interested in my opinion.  He was a medical doctor.  

 

We had a great view of the volcano across the lake the top of which was covered with clouds.  The top of the volcano played hide and seek in the clouds all day.  Everyone wanted to get a picture of it but it was always unaccompanied by clouds.  It became a game to watch the volcano and snap a picture showing as much of the summit cloud free as possible.

 

After our short break we were back on the road.  We continued down the road for several 15 miles and entered a small park area (it was privately owned) where we were treated to our first picnic on the road by the support crew.  The picnic consisted of a spread of two salads, a plate of sliced tomatoes, cucumbers, small corn ears, wine, juice, water, cheese, etc.  It was quite a spread.  There were cookies for desert to finish off the meal. 

 

We finished our brunch and continued our ride along the lake.  We reached our destination Ensenada having ridden about 20 miles.  We had climbed some rollers along our route but we found nothing to be difficult. 

 

Our guide told us that they planned to leave the bikes at a “hotel” but they were told they did not have room.  The driver suggested we bicycle about two miles to a second hotel where we might be able to store them.  We continued our bike ride to that hotel and the guide inquired and they agreed to store the bikes.  Note that the van would hold the bikes and did so before our trip ended but the guide and driver seemed to want to avoid the bike packing and unpacking when possible.  We left the bikes.

 

After getting into the van we began to climb on a road heading toward the base of the Volcano Osorno.  We caught up with a truck which was crawling up the road.  We followed the truck for a couple of miles until the road became wide enough for us to pass.  I then realized that the road up to the base of the volcano was being paved.  The truck we passed was carrying oil or tar to surface the road.  Shortly after passing the truck we ran out of pavement and began to travel over a gravel road. 

 

The switch backs along the road were sharp.  The van had a difficult time pulling the grade and the sharp turns added to the suspense.  We could see a long way down to the valley.  It was a long way!  One of the Canadian women began to tell us of a trip down a steep hill in India which included viewing wrecked busses along the route indicating that some buses didn’t make it.  The story did not give me confidence.   

 

We reached the base of the volcano and turned into the parking lot of a large complex of shops and a restaurant.  At the back of the complex two ski lifts were available for a fee that we could take up the side of the volcano in the summer to take in the view.  In the winter they took skiers to the top. 

 

After a relaxed tour of the facility we returned to the van and drove a short distance to the "Hut" where we would stay the night.  We took our luggage to our room and changed into our hiking togs and headed back to hike on the lava flow.  We located the path along the side of the lava flow and hiked two to three miles along the bottom of the volcano in the lava flow. 

 

The lava looked like a huge sand dune only it was pea size lava gravel.  It had a dark brown color and covered a huge area.  Very few plants were growing.  The trail followed along the edge of the lava for about a mile and then went straight up the side of a hill at the base of the volcano.  Logs had been placed as stair steps to help climbing up the side of the steep hill in the loose lava gravel. As we climbed we had an excellent view of the valley below. 

 

At the top of the lava hill the path leveled off.  The path continued on and below us we could see a red crater with a path around it.  The guide stopped and told us if we wanted we could continue on and take a side path to the crater.  We went on.  We found the path and walked around one side of the crater snapping pictures.

 

We returned to the top of the lava flow and located a bench were we sat and took in the view.  As we sat we observed a group of people riding along a cable from the lava flow back to the building complex below.  We inquired if we could sign on but were told it was the last ride of the day.  They would be open again in the morning.  We would be leaving in the morning.  Oh darn!! 

 

We returned down the path through the lava flow crossed in front of the building complex to the 'Hut."  It had been another "Active Journey."  We were enjoying our adventure in Chile.  

 

Today’s landscape - Lake Llanguihue is huge.  The landscape along the Lake was green with a large variety of plants and trees.   As we drove to the base of the volcano the landscape along the way was covered with plants but trees were not as abundant and the grass was high but not green.  The grass was dry and brown on the tips with green at its base.  I would assume that earlier in the year the plant had been completely green. 

 

At the base of the volcano I found the landscape interesting.  There were no plants for acres as we walked through the lava.  It had a brown, red hue to it.  Not sure I would want to live in a lava environment but it was very interesting to visit.    

  

Bicycling notes - We bicycled on the highway along the shore of Lake Llanguihue.  The highway surface was similar to those in the states but no shoulder was provided.  Once out of Puerto Varas the traffic was light and polite.  They honked the horn to let you know they were approaching. We were buzzed by a bus but the rest of the traffic gave us plenty of room. 

 

The weather continued to be on our side.  It was sunny but not hot which made the clothes selection for the ride easy.  There was no wind.  There were no bugs.

 

I forgot to note during the bike shakedown that each bike had a small black trunk that hung from the handle bars.  I had observed bikes along the bike path on our Eastern European trip that had similar handle bar packs.  They appeared to be mainly used to carry maps but now having one I realize what is possible. 

 

In Chile, the trunks were used to carry snacks which were issued each morning before we started a bike ride.  I also used my trunk to carry my windbreaker, my rain jacket, warmer gloves, etc. because I was not sure what to expect from the weather in Chile.   There was a zipper pocket along the front where I kept my cell phone, camera etc. to keep them clean, dry and easily accessible. I found the pack to be very useful and I am considering getting one for our "self-designed" tours.

 

The snacks issued by the tour people consisted of all of those little goodies that I would never buy.  They are very good and I love them but not body friendly i.e. they make you gain weight!  I did not want to waste them so I ate most of what they gave me.  They also included those little square boxes of orange and apple juice which I really found to be refreshing after a few miles of cycling.   

  

Our guide told us that the hut, where we stayed the night on the volcano, was owned and operated by a group of ski bums. One could join for a set amount of money and then use the place as they wished to support their ski adventures.   

 

As we were returning along the lava on the path back to where we had left our guide, we saw a guy standing at a cable which was attached to a steel structure dug into the lava.  Suddenly I see what the guy is waiting for as someone came zipping along the cable to where the man was standing.  The guy riding on the cable applied a brake with his hand using something that was part of the apparatus that he was suspended from the cable on.  When I got closer to the edge I could see that the cable was strung across the valley between the lava hill we stood on and a building which must have been a quarter of a mile away.   We watched half dozen people follow the first guy along the cable.  As each arrived the guy who was standing at the end of the cable helped them disembark and then another person would begin the journey. It looked like fun.  We wanted to give it a try.

 

When the last of the cable rider got to our position and the guy who was in charge, he wore white coveralls so he had to be the guy in charge, walked past us we asked where could sign up.  He said this was the last trip of the day.  The group walked past us and gathered at a second cable along the trail we had come up on and began to return across the valley to the start house on the second cable. 

 

We watched a couple return to the other side and retreated down the hill retracing our steps to the building complex where we started our hike.  We were disappointed but what the hey.  Our guide told us that they had cable rides through the top of the trees in the rain forest in Chile and if you wanted excitement that was the cable ride to take.

 

Post ride activity - When we had gotten into the van to go to the “Hut” after we had completed our bike ride at the bottom of the mountain, our guide had told us that we would have to sleep in bunks and there were 6 bunks in each room.  If they were crowded, then the five of us on the tour would sleep together in one room.  That would be an experience to look forward to.

 

We arrived at the hut and found we had the place to ourselves.  No sharing of bunk bedrooms would be required. The three Canadians were in one room and my wife and I in a second.

 

Our guide had called ahead and asked that the hot tub be heated.  It was ready for us when we arrived.  When we returned from our hike up the lava flow we had a glass of wine while relaxing in the tub.  The view from the hot tub was overlooking the valley we had just climbed up from.  Everyone loved it and the view of the valley below was great.

 

The "hut" had a large front room.  It had a stove that could be opened to expose the logs that were burning inside.  I enjoy looking at the fire.  To reiterate, the bunk rooms we slept in contained six bunks.  Shelves were provided at the end of the room for "stuff" as required.  The bathroom was rather basic.  It had a cement floor without tile for example. There was a large settings room outside the bunk rooms.  The area had a couch and chairs plus my stove.

 

Dinner was served at the "Hut."  It was good food.  The woman who ran the place was very interesting.  She was very out going.  She interacted with us, the guide and the driver.  The conversation was very interesting and lively.

 

The bathroom was a bit cold and I passed on a shower.  I assumed I had cleaned up in the hot tub. We went to bed in our separate bunks and I slept ok.  Even the sleeping quarters are an adventure with "Adventure Cycling!"

 

return

       

 ......climbing the lava flow...note the wooden log steps ahead to help me climb to the top....

 ...the cable run along the lava flow terminated at the  building complex where we parked...looked like fun!

 ...snow capped Volcano Osorno in the clouds...it is summer in Chile but we are in the southern part of the country...

 ...note the green...we are about 200 yards down the mountain from the lava flow...



 Day 3 -  Osorno Volcano to Las cascadas/Waterfalls

       

...good weather was still with us...our guide told us that it had rained on every day on last weeks tour...

...a bit of climbing and the gravel was a concern especially on the down hill...

...the climb took away my enjoyment of the view Lake Llanguihue 

...a look at the volcano without the accompanying clouds,,,

Plan for the day - We begin the day's adventures by hiking through the forest and across the lava flows near the base of the mountain.  Next we would bike for 35 km or 22 miles.  And finally we would go on foot to see another waterfall.  The hike would be 3 km or 2 miles.

 

From the "Active Journey's propaganda: .....a short hike in the morning through the lava fields and green forests is followed by the days bike ride down from the volcano Osorno.  The term down may be misleading as in places the road will tilt up as we climb over the lava flows as we approach Las Cascades.  As we approach the bottom we cycle through a beautiful forest.

 

You may want to take a cool dip after lunch.  After crossing the river we hike into a lush green canyon with dense rain forest growth.  Delight in the immense waterfall as it thunders and showers us in a haze and of mist and rainbows. 

 

In the late afternoon we board our van to drive back to Ensenada for our overnight stay in a cozy cabin on the lake. 

  

Getting started - We got up from a good night's sleep.  We had enjoyed our "sleeping in the bunks" experience at the "Hut."  I  put on presentable clothes and went to the main room.   I sat in front of the open stove watching the fire and wrote down notes about our volcano adventure.  I was soon joined by the others and we sat down to our breakfast which our host had prepared. 

 

After breakfast we loaded our luggage into the van and climbed on to leave.  As we were backing back from the Hut to exit the parking lot our hostess appeared waving a Chilean flag and singing the national anthem of Chile. It was darling.  She had made our stay even more fun. 

 

Today’s adventure - After leaving the "Hut" we drove to the location of the start of a 2 mile hike along the side of the volcano.  The lava flow from the eruption of the volcano had produced an interesting terrain.   As we hiked we would be surrounded by a thick growth of trees and underbrush.  In places we would suddenly leave the thick green forest and break out into a lava field where nothing was growing.   

 

At the end of our hike we got back into the van to drive to hotel were the bicycles were stored.  We begin our ride immediately at the hotel.  Our goal was to bicycle 20 miles to the "cabins" were we would stay overnight. 

 

The road we were on could only be described as hard packed lava flow.  But hard packed "gravel" roads always have spots where the gravel is free to move where it wants.  The bikes we were riding were more of the mountain bike variety and much better than the road bikes we bicycle on in the States for riding through gravel.  There was also some significant climbing along the way.  The lava flow from the volcano had produced hills as it moved down along the side of the mountain and in places the hills were quite large.  The most significant adventure was riding down a hill through exposed gravel after topping a hill.  I hoped for a few more exciting days in Chile and kept my wits about me on my way along the road.

 

We completed our ride at the hotel in Ensenada and checked into our rooms.  But our day's "Active Journey" was not over.  We left our bikes in the room and changed from our bike clothes into our hiking togs.  We were scheduled for another hike to see water falls which our guide described as spectacular.  She also said that we might want to take any rain gear we had because we might get wet.  My interpretation of "might" get wet meant that the possibility of getting wet would be "zero."

 

We began our hike crossing the river on a log bridge which is must in Chile.   After a short distance we began to enter a canyon which had been cut deep into the rock by the river.   The moss covered rock walls quickly grew above our heads as we went further and further into the canyon.  The canyon began to recede until the river banks disappeared we entered the water.   

 

We could see our target ahead of us as we trudged along in ankle deep water near the wall of the canyon.  As we approached the falls the water got deeper and we walking in water halfway up to our knees.  The water was never deeper than 18 inches but the bottom was very irregular and the rocks were slick.  Our guide told us that we wanted to cross over to a small rock island in the middle of the stream where we would have an excellent view of the waterfalls.  Getting to the island was an adventure.  The water was swirling around my legs as I took small steps rocking back and forth attempting to keep my balance.  The current produced sufficient white water on the surface that it was impossible to see what the surface of the river bottom had in store for the bottom of my foot when I took my next step.              

 

I successfully made the island without falling in.  I had given up any hope of staying dry.  My pant legs were wet and the air was filled with a water mist from the water crashing down the side of the canyon to the river below which added to the moisture on my clothes. 

 

I have to admit the guide was correct it was a magnificent sight.  We recorded our adventure on film and I successfully kept my camera out of the water.  Unfortunately we were too close to get a full view of the falls and we quickly lost site of the top of the falls we turned away to exit back down the river.

 

As we left the island in the middle of the river we walked gingerly over the rocks to the canyon wall and again hugged the wall until we reached the trail along the bank of river.  We reached the van, attempted to dry off and returned to the hotel. 

 

Today's adventure's had been another "Active Journey."           

 

Today’s landscape - Today's landscape will produce many fond memories.  We began the day with a hike through the forest and over the lava flows at the bottom of the volcano.  We were treated to our first cloudless view of the volcano on our hike.  We bicycled through the varied and interesting terrain along the bottom of Volcano Osorno catching both a view of the Volcano and of Lago Llabquihue below on our ride.  Our final adventure of the day was a hike to a "huge" and beautiful waterfall which can only be described as spectacular.        

 

Bicycling notes - There was no wind.  The sun was shinning and the temperature was warm enough that I could ride in my bike clothes without adding a jacket.  There were no bugs.  The traffic was nil on the roads we bicycled on today. 

 

I bought a sun protection hat and shirt for the trip for the purpose of protecting me from the sun on my hikes.  The hat did not compliment my appearance but I hoped it would prevent another visit to the doctor.  I had a couple of skin cancers removed because of poor attention to detail so I become a bit more conscientious about sunscreen and protective clothing when visiting the sun.      

  

Post ride activity - We were staying a "the cabins" which were located in Ensenada.  Ensenada is located near the bottom of the Volcano Onsono along the shore of Lake Llanguihue   The buildings that made up the community are strung along the road.  There appeared to be no central location.  The businesses and homes were scattered along the road for a few miles.  

 

The room we had was quite nice and very large.  Our room had two beds, 1 double and one single, two stuffed chairs, a coffee table, plus a nice bathroom.  

 

We changed out of our "wet" hiking clothes and joined the others to walk to the restaurant.  The restaurant where we were to find dinner was located about a mile down the road from the cabins.  The five of us and our guide made our way to restaurant for dinner. I do not remember what we had which may mean it was not something to remember but I do not remember a bad experience either.  

 

We sat together and ate our meal discussing the day's adventure.  Afterward we returned to our cabin and after a few notes about today's adventure I went to bed.  It had been another good day in Chile.     

    

return

 

     

 ...the terrain changed from lush green to lava as we hiked...

 ...Osorno Volcano smiling down on us....

 ...I tested my hiking boots on the Inca Trail in Peru and they continued to serve me well in Chile... 

 



Day 4 - Ensenada to Puerto Varas

       

....the road surface was bike friendly until we entered the sand....

...the landscape was quite beautiful along the lake...

..I carry a pouch with ID, passport, credit cards, money, medical card, etc. hanging from my neck which is undetectable under my shirt!  

..the color of the water at the rapids was spectucular...

Plan for the day - We start the day from the cabins where we spent the night.  We plan to bicycle 22 miles alng Lake Llanguihue to the Petrohue River.  At the Petrohue river we will visit the blue water rapids on the river and then take a boat ride a few miles in the lake above the rapids.  Our boat ride will dock at a small landing platform and we will go ashore.  From there we will hike back to the rapids through a lush green forest.  We will again board the van to return to the cabins.   

After lunch we will wait to be picked up and taken to the "rafting equipment facility" by the white water rafting crew.  After a discussion of the do's and don't of white water rafting with the crew  the "cyclist" will put on wet suits and along with the necessary equipment be transported to the Petrohue River near a category 3 set of rapids for a run down the river.  Those who survive the rapids will return to the rafting equipment facility for a complimentary snack.  After the snack the rafting crew will return the "cyclist" to the cabins where they will spend the night. 

 

Getting started - We got up and dressed in our bike clothes in prepration for the ride that began after breakfast.  It was our first day of a two stay at the cabins so we did not have to pack.  We went down to our complimentary breakfast.  The Breakfast at the cabins was sparse compared to what we were given at our other stays but it was good enough.

 

Our fellow travellers arrived and after breakfast we returned to our room to gathered up what we needed for the ride and a planned hike following the ride.  My other clothes included my hiking boots, long pants, sun protection shirt and hat.  We left the room with our bikes and met at the van.  We loaded our after ride clothes and got on our bicycles to begin the day's adventure.  

 

Today’s adventure - Our bike ride began on the paved road in front of the cabins which ran along Lake Llanguihue.  After a few miles we reached the river and turned and continued along a paved road along the river.  At one point the road entered a short valley of only a few yards which I would assume was used to allow water to flow into the river following a rain storm.  At the bottom of the small valley the road was covered with a couple of inches of sand.  When I reached the sand my front tire disappeared and I almost lost control.  Luckily the width of the sand was short and I regained control and made it through.

 

At a park and cabin area the asphalt stopped and the road turned to gravel.  When we reached the gravel, my wife and I waited with our bikes until the others caught up.  The van had stopped and parked in the parking lot of some cabins located along the river near where we waited.  When the others arrived they decided not to continue to ride in the gravel (sand).  My wife and I continued to ride along the gravel and sand road.

 

We successfully stayed upright and made it through the sand and gravel to a parking area where we the van had parked.  The van had parked near the "blue rapids" area of the river which was one of the sights we were to enjoy that day.  The location had attracted the interest of a number of tourists.  It appeared that many large rocks or boulders had rolled into the river.  They may have been pushed by lava but I do not know that for a fact.  The water in many places was a bright blue as it splashed against the large rocks and swirled as it continued its trek down the river.  There were several locations with bridges which allowed us to walk out and look down at the rapids giving us a close up view of the color and turmoil below. 

 

After walking along the bridge paths taking in all the views of the "blue water rapids" our group reassembled to walk the short distance to the dock.  We walked to the dock which was the location where we would board a small boat which would take us along the lake shore to the start of our hike.  When we reached the dock our guide getting the paperwork straight with the boat folks. 

 

After a short wait we boarded one of the small boats at the dock.  It was a bit cold.  The boat headed into the lake and we headed “east or west” or “north or south” along the lake.  We were probably about a half a mile off shore.  After about three miles the boat turned and headed into shore.  There was a plank attached to a piling of sorts which was our debarkation target.  Our boat caption cut power and we eased along side the makeshift dock.  We got out of the boat and in single file navigated the plank until we were standing on the beach.  Everyone had successfully made it along the plank to shore. 

 

We stopped for a moment to look back from the beach to take in the view from the shore.  We then turned and headed inland to locate the trail which would take us back to the dock where we had started our lake voyage.  The route was easy to find.  It was a wide area absent of plants that ran through a thick lush forest of green trees.  The trail appeared to run parallel to the lake.  It may have walked through a rain forest but I am not sure and our guide was well in front of where I hiked with my fellow male explorer through the forest.

 

Our hike back to the van went quiclky. When we reached the van we helped with the loading of the bikes into the van and then drove back to the cabins where we had spent the night.  We reached the cabins around noon.  Our guide told us we had to get ready for a 2 o’clock white water rafting trip on the river.  She told us she would go get some empanadas for us to eat because there was not enough time to go to a restaurant for a meal.  She also told us that we would be given a wet suit, booties and a jacket to wear in the raft but to wear something warm under the wet suit.  What was I to wear? 

 

I thought I was on a bike trip and now I am white water rafting!   I put on my long johns, put my levis over them, took along the warmest stuff I had to put on after I had completed "Mr. Toad's wild ride" on the river.

 

We ate and I fussed with what to wear and then the van arrived with the “white water rafting” guys.  Our crew chief was one of the two guys who picked us up.  Being with this guy turned out to be one of the most memorable and fun experiences of the trip.  He was Irish, Peter Larkin, and spoke with the full accent.  He began to throw barbs at us before we got into the van and continued the conversation for the entire drive to the boat house.  Nothing was terribly, offensive, just barbs.  He also told many jokes about the Irish to poke fun at himself.  He was funny!  He had us laughing all the way to the boat house. 

 

At the boat house we gathered around a raft that was lying on the floor and Peter gave us the safety lecture.  We would be on a category 3 river.  The maximum was 6.  I know that people die on the lower Kern River every year in California which must be a 6.  I have seen the rapids.  It looks like the bottom of Niagara Falls!  A catagory 3 must mean the rapids are bit worst than half that of Niagara Falls.  What have I gotten myself into? 

 

He explained how to stay afloat and swim if you fall out of the raft.  Turn your back toward the rapids and float down stream while the raft folks (Peter) tried to get close enough to pull you in with the paddle.  If you were too far away a rope would be used.  The rope must have been 25 feet long and was wrapped up inside a sheave and exited as the rope was pulled on.  The wrapped side would be tossed to the swimmer.  They were to grab the rope not the sheave because the rope would continue to exit the sheave without pulling the swimmer in.  There was a correct method of holding the paddle.  There was a correct method of resting the paddle on the side of the raft when not peddling.  All of these instructions were raddled off with rafting stories, profanity and jokes interspersed in the instructions. 

 

He paused during the instructions and looked across the raft at my wife and said “your eyes are getting bigger and bigger as I talk.  Are you comfortable with this.”  I thought “Hell, I am typically more concerned than my wife.  I must be so tired from my “Active Journey” that my eyes are too tired to be opened any further.  My wife asked him how many people had fallen out of the raft.  He looked at one of the other guides and they hunched their shoulders but never gave a numeric answer. 

 

He then went through the commands to be used during the trip down the river.  First however he made sure that we knew he was in charge of the raft.  Whatever he said went.  If someone was not doing his bidding his voice would get higher and higher until the bad behavior stopped.  He demonstrated the higher voice.  The commands were “forward, back, stop, and right back left forward, left back and right forward and last but not least, “hold on.” 

 

Hold on was accomplished by grabbing a rope which ran around the circumference of the raft through rings that were spaced about two feet apart.  The rope was pulled tightly against the raft and to get a hand hold you had to force your fingers through it.  I ripped up my thumb on my left hand on one grab following a call for “hold on,” I was assigned to the left side of the raft.  As I write this account, it has been ten days since our return from down under and the dead skin around the wound just pealed off my hand.  “Active Journey’s” is not for the weak! 

 

We then went to get our outfits or wet suits.  We dressed together, men and women in the same building separated by a ten foot partition.  I left my thermal underwear on and put my wet suit over it.   I pulled on my booties and tucked the wet suit over the tops of them.  This would keep the water from running into the booties.  I later saw one of the boat folks at the river with his booties on the outside.  Did I look strange like an American tourist?  I pulled on the jacket.  It was bright red.  I was set to go.    

 

We rode in a van to the river with Peter continuing to entertain us with stories and abuse.   The rafts arrived on a trailer pulled by a second van.  There was a second group of young people which were to go in a second raft.  Young meaning they must have been at a minimum in their twenties. 

 

We got out of the van and waited while the rafts were unloaded.  We were told that we would walk about a hundred yards along the river bank down stream.  The rafts were launched at the point where the vans were parked but we would enter the rafts down stream.   Peter told us that the trail had a couple of places where the walking would be difficult and we would know we had reached the launch point when we reached an obvious clearing next to the river.  We set off.

 

The 6 of us reached the launch point and after a short wait Peter arrived with the raft.   He beached the raft and jumped out.  He looked at the group and he pointed at me and said you and Hanna in the front, Bill you and my wife next, Wendy you are in the back of the raft with me.  Bill who had spent a lot of time canoeing in Canada looked a little distressed about not being one of the front people guiding the raft.  I was still thinking about my Kern River white water debacle and would have gladly changed places but “Peter was in charge!” 

 

We got into the raft and Peter pushed us off.  The water wasn’t very difficult so we practiced.  “Forward,” “Rest,” “Backward,” Right Side Forward Left Side Back,”  “Hold On,” etc.   Peter told us again he was in charge and again demonstrated his loudest voice used to correct bad raft behavior. 

 

We stopped before we got to the rapids to go swimming.  We were not asked if we wanted to swim.  I assume we were too old.  The kids in the second raft did get into the water briefly and then they got back into their raft and we were off again.

 

We quickly gained speed as we headed for the first set of rapids.  Then bingo we were on a rock.  Thoughts of my Kern River rafting experience in California returned.   The rock only caught briefly under one edge of the raft, we spun around and were free.  Peter seemed pleased that we had not panicked and afterwards I came to the conclusion that he had guided us onto the rock on purpose to see what kind of folks he was taking on a type 3 raft trip.

 

After leaving the rock Peter began to bark out commands as we proceeded through very rough water.  At times he would call for a "rest" which would allow us to turn slowly into a very rough spot in the river where he would begin to bark orders and inevitably I and my mate up front in the raft would be caught in a giant wave which would soak us from head to toe.  Just prior to hitting the wave Peter would yell "Hold On" and immediately the water was a foot over my head and I was drowning in a flood of water across the front of the raft.  I later realized that this was a setup also. 

 

Peter continued to tell stories all the way down the river plus issuing orders at the last minute “Forward,” “Rest,” “Back,” and of course ‘Hold On” as the raft was doused with a flood of water. 

 

I remembered the West Virginia story he told.  "How is a tornado  and a divorce similar in West Virginia?  Somebody going to loose a trailer”  That hit close to home because I am from Kentucky.

 

A van was waiting for us down stream were we came in to shore.  After the gear was loaded we got into the van which brought us back to the building complex were our river rafting adventure began.  Peter continued to tell stories all the way.  The raft trip had been great fun.  We got very wet.  Peter provided great entertainment. The stories were hilarious. I was becoming more of a fan of "Active Journey's."

 

After we took our wet suits off in the community bath house and dressed in our street clothes we went inside the main building for a buffet snack with wine.  I had water of course and ate everything in site.

 

today's landscape - The blue rapids were formed by a large volume of water attempting to get through an area between the rocks that could not handle the volume of water.  The water crashed against the rocks, swirled as it attempted to run forward and created quite a show.  I do not know what caused the striking colors in the water but the change in the water color was very unusual and pretty. 

 

The landscape along the lake and the river was quite green and lush.  We hiked through a forest on our way back to the van after we exited the boat that had taken us to the trail head. The lake we were boating in to the trail head was quite large but after viewing the blue rapids the view of the lake seemed ok.  Our surroundings on the hike were very much like the hike the day before day before without the lava flows that we had crossed.          

 

While riding our bicycles in Chile we came upon blackberries growing along the road several times.  We stopped to pick and eat the blackberries every chance we had.  It was a great distraction while waiting for other cyclist to catch up.  The blackberries were very large and very good.

 

Bicycling notes - The traffic was zero on the bike ride.  No wind.  The sun was out and I chose to wear a jacket but it was not cold.  The road surface was ok until we reached the gravel or sand in this case.  The sand was packed hard but in places it was a bit hairy to ride on.  I avoided the loose sand accept for the unavoidable sand at the bottom of the "wash" which was scary but I had made it.  No bugs in Chile!   

 

The rafting trip had been a complete surprise to me.  I had not read what 'Active Journeys" had planned for us.  I assumed that I was on a "paid BICYCLE tour" and I would just bicycle 75 miles everyday which had been our schedule in Europe. I thought a white water rafting experience would be considered a bit over the top. 

 

When I was told to prepare to do white water rafting I was just a little apprehensive.  My last white water rafting trip in California on the Kern River was just short of being a disaster.  Nothing had happened directly to me, but two people fell out of the raft and had to be pulled back in with some difficulty and heroics, and we had beached the raft against the shore in one rapid and it took some doing to get us back afloat. 

 

Our "unbeaching the raft" tactic was to move everyone to the side of the raft which was still in the water taking all of the weight off the "grounded" side.  But note we had to ne careful not to let the weight of the passengers sink the side of the raft we were all standing in while freeing the "grounded" side.  We pulled it off and completed our raft adventure. 

 

We actually picked up a guy who had fallen out of another raft after our grounding adventure.  We were fully trained in how to overcome any rafting phenomenon by the time we reached him.  It was piece of cake!    

 

Post ride activity - We returned to the cabins from the raft trip, cleaned up (put on our best dirty clothes) rested a bit and then went with the guide and Canadians to dinner.  We left the cabins and again walked along the road to the restaurant.   I had eaten so much at the little snack provided by the raft folks that I was not very hungry.  Also I had not been impressed with the food in Chile and assumed it would be more of the same.  I decided on mussels which were considered a side order but I could not eat much.  Everyone else had fish of some variety.   My wife had Congrio or “Chilean eel.”

 

The waitress was pushing a raspberry drink so we had one.  It was fantastic!  My wife had two.  They were quite large and had the consistency of a Jamba Juice.  We finished the meal and I paid the check to cover all of the little money treats the Canadians had picked up for us on the trip thus far.

 

The day's adventure was not over.  On our walk back to the cabins, we heard horses galloping down the highway behind us.  I turned toward the noise and a horse rode pass within a foot of me at full speed and off into the grassy area that ran along the road and disappeared ahead.  A second horseman abount a hundred yards behind the first stayed on the opposite side of the road as he passed us and clapped out of sight with sparks flying from the hoofs of his horse.  Wendy said the horse had just missed her.  She felt the wind of the beast as he galloped past.  Those behind her confirmed her close call.  

 

 return

       

 ...finished the rapids tour, walking sticks in hand preparing to change into my hiking attire... 

 ...on the boat to the start of our hike back to the van...

 ...hiking back along the lake to the van...

 ...the Irish gentleman who was caption of our "white water raft" at an evening get together of the survivors...

 



 Day 5 - Ensenada to Puerto Varas

       

...we bicycled along flat, gravel roads with little or no traffic after we turned away from the main road along the ocean ... 

..the foliage along the road was lush and green...

...view of the fjord from the bridge where we turned to follow the river to the beach where we had lunch...

..Patagonia from the bridge where we turned to ride along the river to the beach were we enjoyed lunch...

Plan for the day - Today we leave the Cabins our home for the last two days in Ensenada and return to Puerto Varas.  We bicycle from the Cabins several miles to a location near the Pacific Ocean and turn onto a gravel road which runs parallel to the Ocean.  We will bicycle for about 40 miles along the gravel road to a small village where we will have a picnic lunch on the beach.  We return to Puerto Varas for the night in the van. Our planned bicycle ride for the day would be between 40 and 50 miles.  This would be a "bicycling day." 

 

The tour information told us that; we begin the day by cycling to the Pacific Ocean.  We ride along meadows with the Reloncavi Fjord below.  This is a great place for viewing dolphins and other wildlife.  In the afternoon we stop at the Ralun Hot Springs for a relaxing dip at the end of an exciting day. 

 

Getting started - We will not be staying at the Cabins tonight. We will be cycling today.  We got up and put on our bike outfits and packed our luggage.  We took our luggage to the van and met our fellow travelers for breakfast. 

 

Breakfast was again light compared to what we had been treated to at our other stays but adequate.  After breakfast we located our bikes and waited for our guide to begin our ride.   

 

Today’s adventure - Our bicycle adventure began on the paved road in front of the Cabins.  We rode several miles to our turn onto the gravel road.  At first we could not see the Ocean because of the foliage along the road.  After a few miles we could see the water from the road.   

 

The road took us past the Pacific fjord where our guide had told us we might see dauphines and other wildlife.  We stopped and looked for sometime out over the water but did not see any wild life.  We did see a large touring ship anchored near by which I assumed meant that there was some activity in the water to be seen by those onboard.  We were not successful from the shore. 

 

After we left the fjord we began to climb.  We experienced several climbs of at least 12% and were at least three-fourths of a mile in length.  We reached the village where our guide said we were to stop and eat our picnic lunch.  She told us we should visit the Catholic Church located in the town because it was a historic land mark.  To get to the church from the gravel road we rode down a very steep hill. 

 

The small park along the ocean were we planned eat our lunch was located a half a mile further from the church.  Our riding day would end at the park.  After lunch our bikes would be put into the van and we would drive to Puerto Varas.  

 

After our tour of the church the driver told us the beach was crowded and suggested that we drive further along the gravel road away from the village to a location near a river.  We could stay where we were and picnic on the water down from the church or drive to the second location suggested by the driver. Our driver told us the new location was about two miles further along the gravel road. 

 

My wife and I had bicycled on the gravel road to the town and were physically beat.  The other riders had given up when we reached the gravel and gotten into the bus.  The group opted for the location suggested by our driver.  Being troopers or a bit "crazy" we decided to test ourselves on the 12% climb on the road from the church back to the gravel road. We were going very slowly by the time we reached the road and I was surprised we had not cracked. 

 

We rode for about a mile and a half along the gravel road.  Our guide caught up with us on her bike and took the lead.  I was afraid that the predicted two miles would turn into 5.  At least the road was relatively flat.  The van was about a half mile behind us and I thought I heard him blow the horn.  I called to my wife and said does he want us to wait.  We called ahead to the guide and she stopped.  We looked back at the van and discovered it was a car behind the van had blown his horn to pass. We continued on.   

 

We came to a bridge.  Our guide told us we were there.  We turned immediately left onto a small gravel road that ran back parallel to the bridge and then turned along the river.  We rode for about a tenth of a mile and came to a spot where a second smaller stream ran into the one spanned by the bridge.  We stopped there.  It was beautiful.  The driver was right.   It was worth the extra effort to ride there. 

 

A large gravel beach had been formed where the two rivers joined.  I spotted the remains of a fire and started to look for wood.  Not sure that I could build a fire I just continued until I had a chance to jester to the driver and he said yes we could build a fire.  Bren produced some newspaper and Wendy produced some matches.  We nursed the fire along for a bit until a hot spot had been produced in the middle which would overcome the damp wood and we had a fire. 

 

The guide and driver had unloaded a table and chairs and started making the picnic lunch.  We sat around the fire and commented on how beautiful the place looked.  All of a sudden an SUV rolled down the small road we had entered the beach on and drove across the river in front of us.  I grew up in Kentucky and crossing rivers and streams this way was normal because the cost of a bridge was prohibitive.  The Canadians had never seen such a thing and were amazed.  They snapped a photo of the crossing. 

 

Our driver and guide had brought a ton of food.  Two large salads, chicken breast, one salad had sliced tomatoes, cucumber,  and red peppers.  A second container had corn, potatoes, cucumber, salad dressing was available, pears, apples, cookies, on and on, juice, wine and water.

 

The picnic lunch was served and we were setting around the fire when suddenly down the road came 7 horsemen and woman who rode across the stream and into the forest.  The leader looked like a character from a Mexican movie.  He wore a round leather Spanish hat, with an orange shirt buttoned to the top and a large red scarf around his neck.  I did not notice but I am sure he must have had black pants with silver buttons along the side.  Quite a show.  

 

A helicopter flew over and circled looking at us.  I told Bill that was the CIA checking to make sure I was ok.   Then an SUV appeared on the other bank and was about to cross.  Our driver waved to them to stop.  The Canadians grabbed their cameras and once they had the shot they wanted the driver waved the drive across.  The people in the SUV were laughing.

 

We stayed on the beach enjoying the food and telling stories for more than two hours before we gathered up the remains of lunch and loaded it into the van.  After loading our bikes we headed for Puerto Varas.  

 

Today’s landscape - The view was stunning.  We were in Patagonia according to Peter.  From the bridge you could see very high deep blue mountains sticking above the lush green hills mountains we were in.  It was very beautiful and relaxing.  The driver had coached us into a beautiful experience.

 

Bicycling notes -  It had been a good riding day.  We bicycled between 40 and 50 miles on bicycles that were a bit heavier than we use in the States and the gearing is a bit less friendly.  The road was gravel most of the way.  We did not hit any deep gravel but had to be cautious which takes away from a relaxed cycling day.  But, the fun in cycling is the challenge and we enjoyed our day.

 

We continued to escape what the cyclist the week before us had suffered with the wet weather.  We had continued sunshine but the temperature was cool but not cold. There was no wind to hinder or help with the climbing we encountered after we left the paved road.  There were few cars.  There were no bugs. 

 

There was significant climbing on today's ride.  The road was not cut through the hills to reduce the grade and followed the terrain.  On one climb I had to drop to my lowest gear and crank "slowly" to the top.  There were several significant climbs along our route. 

 

Post ride activity -   After our long lazy lunch at the beach along the river we boarded the van for the drive back to the hotel in Puerto Varas.  At the hotel we showered, changed into our street clothes and joined the others for dinner at the hotel.  Our choice was steak or beef.  We had the steak but I am afraid it was a bit over cooked.  The German influence I assume.  

 

We decided after dinner to be lazy.  We did not head down town to shop or catch desert.  We returned to our room.   I entered notes in my diary and went to bed.  Another great day in Chile. 

 

return 

 

       

 ...proud builder of the fire on the beach where we ate our lunch...

 ...alter of the church at the small village where we were to stop for lunch at the beach...

 ...establishment advertising waffles along the road... 

 ...there were several difficult climbs along the road...



Day 6 - Puerto Varas to Puerto Octay

     

...we found black berries all along our routes in Chile and they were very good...

..we encountered some 12% climbs along the day's route...

...lunch break with the group setting on the wall that ran along the Lake shore in the small town of Frutillar... 

..a "nature break" on a bike ride may require a bit of help from one's friends...

Plan for the day - We had returned to Puerto Varas from Ensenada the night before.  Today the plan was to bicycle along the northern shore of Lake Llanquihue to Puerto Octay.  We would take the van to our start location and then bicycle for 50 km or about 30 miles.  We would return to Puerto Varas from Puerto Octay in the van after the bicycle ride.  

 

From the Active Journeys description;  Today, we bike along the huge Llanquihue Lake following in the footsteps of the German settlers who settled this area of Chile at the request of the Chilean government.  The small lakeside road winds its way along a hilly landscape offering fascinating views of the many volcanoes located on the opposite shore.  Small secluded beaches along the shore invite us to take a rest on their sands. 

 

We arrive in Frutillar, a beautiful and charming lakeside village.  We take a quick visit to the open-air museum which covers the history of the German immigration in Southern Chile during the 1850’s.  After a hearty picnic lunch we continue our trip along the shores of the lake to Puerto Octay.  There we find a picturesque natural bay with an idyllic little harbor.  We return to Puerto Varas in the late afternoon in the van. 

 

Getting started - We were staying at the hotel in Puerto Varas from which we had started our Active Journey.  We got up dressed in our bike attire and went down to meet the Canadians for breakfast.  The hotel provided a great array of all my favorite breakfast foods spread out in a large buffet.  I gathered my food and returned to share stories with our fellow cyclist.  After we had eaten our fill we met our guide and driver in front of the hotel and loaded our gear to drive to the start of the day's adventure.          

 

Today’s adventure - Hanna, our guide, decided to reverse direction of day's bike ride.  The original plan had been to ride from the hotel to Puerto Octay but we would start our ride at Puerto Octay. 

 

There was a stretch of down hill a few miles into the ride.  Our guide had told us that we would get to a down hill stretch and to be careful.  I reached the down hill first.  I try to always ride with the group and not to appear that I am showing off.  I do no like to ride with guys who have to show off.  It’s a character flaw in my opinion.  Anyway I got there first and began to back off and then just let it go.  It was a wild ride.  When I reached the bottom I stopped. My wife caught up to me first followed by the other riders.

 

At the end of the first 20 miles we reached the small town of Frutillar.  Stopped in town and went down to the beach and ate the lunch provided by the tour.  We later enjoyed ice cream from a shop recommended by our guide which was located a short distance further along the main street of the town.

 

After our lunch we toured the museum in Frutillar.  The story goes that the Government of Chile had invited Germans to settle the area and they had.  The museum in Frutillar had been one of the original farms built by the German immigrants.  The tour and history lesson was very interesting.  

 

After our tour we continued to our bicycle adventure.  Our guide wanted to take us through an area after we exited the town and of course we entered gravel roads.  To get back to the main road we had to climb a 12% hill.  The gravel road followed the terrain.  

 

We turned onto the Pan American Highway after leaving the gravel road and stayed on the highway to Puerto Varas.  The bicycle ride back from Puerto Octay was about 40 miles and change.   

 

Today’s landscape - We bicycled along the opposite side of Lake Llanquihue today.  We rode along the northern shore of the lake heading east.  The Lake was along the right side but we would ride through forested areas which were very dense and green.  Our view was shielded from the lake.  Then at times the road would return us back along the lake and then we would disappear back into the heavy green foliage.   

 

We toured a museum there which had been the home of one of the early German settlers.  Many of the original tools used by the settlers were shown in the out lying buildings at the museum.  The house was furnished with furniture from that period.  The buildings were built by the German settlers. 

The government of Chile in 1851 had asked for settlers from Germany to settle in Chile and many came.  We also visited an unfinished theater.  Our guide was a member of the orchestra

 

We then bicycled 20 miles to Pan American highway and bicycled on the Pan American highway to Puerto Varas.

 

As we bicycled along the road to the small town we passed several very nice two story houses, I asked our guide how much would the homes cost.  She estimated $80,000.  The land is what you bought.  I asked about the weather and she said it was like Portland in the US.  The temperature would be in the 40’s and 50's most days.  Cold temperatures were typical.  Six months of 40 degree weather could be expected.

 

If we were in the same latitude as Oregon as Hanna suggested, then the distance to Santiago must have been Los Angeles or San Francisco.  I think it is 2 hours plus to Portland from LA and the flight from Santiago to Puerto Varas was about an hour and a half.  The weather in Santiago was warmer than San Francisco but we were  about the distance of Davis or Sacramento California from the coast when we rode in Santiago. 

 

Bicycling notes - We took the van to the start of the ride so we avoided the heavy traffic leaving Peurto Varas.  Traffic was very light on the ride.  The sun was out all day.  There were clouds but weather never threatened.  There were no bugs.  

 

The gravel road surface was difficult.  Along the gravel portion the road followed the terrain.  As a result there were some significant climbs and my guess would be that the gravel would drift down the hill causing areas of deep gravel along the road with the deeper areas at the bottom.  My wife and I did not have any spills because of the gravel but it was a concern.     

 

Post ride activity - We returned to the hotel in Peurto Varas in the van after we completed the ride.  We showered, changed into street clothes and met the others to head down for dinner in Peurto Varas.  We had asked for a recommendation from our guide.  We located the restaurant and had a good meal.  After we discussed the day's events we returned to the hotel shopping along the way.  

 

return

     

 ...we began our ride on pavement and then the road turned to "ugly" gravel and then back again... 

 ...having ice cream on the sidewalk in the small German town we visited along the route....

 ...the landscape in Chile had been quite beautiful...riding along the shore of the lake and the volcanoes in the background added to enjoyment...

 



"car free adventure"