Chile’s Lake District is famed as a prime tourist destination for Chileans and foreigners alike. It is the northern end of the Patagonia region and is known for lush farmland, dense jungle forests, volcanic mountains, and yes, incredibly beautiful lakes.
First stop: Chiloé Island.
A foggy day in Castro, Chiloé Island.
A short ferry ride, then a lovely drive south through foggy hills and lush green farmland down the island to the town of Castro, famed for beautiful wooden churches and houses on stilts.
Ominous clouds over cheerful, colorful houses.
Iglesia San Francisco in Castro. Click to see full image.
A local market in Castro where we purchased some local Chiloé garlic, which was about the size of a softball, but incredibly buttery and mild in flavor. The Chiloé Archipelago is also the native home of the potato most commonly cultivated around the world today. Here, it is one of over 400 unique native potato species.
Curanto for dinner: a local specialty of the Chiloé Archipelago that dates back 11 thousand years. It is traditionally prepared in a hole dug into the ground and covered in stones, and consists of smoked meats, seafood, and several different kinds of potatoes. It comes out deliciously smoky and is served with broth.
We spend our last night with Benya in Ancud, in a cabaña literally across the street from a famous lookout point. Unfortunately, it was entirely clouded over four our whole stay and we never saw anything more than a wall of white. Benya departs for Santiago, and J & I take off for Puerto Varas, where we home base for a couple of weeks.
We are currently applying for volunteer work in the Lake District and in regions north. But since sitting in hostels for hours using the free wifi doesn’t make for an interesting blog, I’ll stick to the adventures we’ve had in between.
Stop Two: Petrohué
In need of a break after all this hopping around the last couple of weeks, we catch a local bus to the small town of Ensanada and then on to Petrohué for a proper beach vacation. The road is unpaved and ridiculously sketchy, with large chunks missing, but we arrive safely to Lago Todos Los Santos and hop a small boat across the mouth of the Petrohué River, then find a campsite.
We stay two nights lounging on the beach, taking breaks from our relaxing and doing nothing to paddle about in the lake, read, play Set, and ogle Osorno, the huge volcano which looms above us. The stars here are incredible.
On the morning of the third day, a torrential rain starts to fall. We are slowly packing up camp when a boatman yells up to us to hurry – that ridiculously sketchy road in? It closes in the rain. We throw our wet gear into our packs and race across the river to the last awaiting bus. The road winds precariously along the flanks of the volcano, and we drive through entire streams running across it. At one point we pass a C.A.T. actively re-fabricating the road where some mud has slid.
Back in Puerto Varas, we dry out and plan our next steps. Puerto Varas is a cute little town on the shore of Lake Llanquihue, and not a bad place to home base. We even found a local brewery with an IPA (pronounced ee-pah), a rarity in these parts.
J, throwing horseshoes behind Chester Beer Brewery.
Next up: Cochamo Valley. Till next time!
Lots of Love,
C & J