We have a problem with mornings. "You always have had," I can hear my mom saying.
It is cold and overcast in the morning and we are so slow to get moving. Once up and walking around the cold, crisp air is invigorating. This morning (mid to late morning to be more correct) we got out of our fairly bland accommodation in Neltume and walked to the Huilo-Huilo (pronounced 'gwe-low gwe-low') cascades.
Although the waterfall is a trickle now, it was 100% worth the $3,000 (this is pesos, not dollars - they use the same symbol; exchange rate is $40 : R1) each to walk in the amazing forest and to see the waterfall and pools. Our minds boggled at how incredible this must be to see in spring when the river runs strong with meltwater.
The colour of the pools - the photos we took do not nearly do it justice. Crystal clear too. You can see every feature of the rocks in the pools.
The forest we walked though was amazing. Huge trees that towered over us. Green and lush and magnificent. The wooden staircase that descended from high to the river... fue maravilloso.
A quick walk back to our car and we began a lovely drive to Futrono, a small town on the northern shore of Lago Ranco, one of the seven lakes.
We mostly took back roads and feasted our eyes non-stop on the farms out here. Large fields, cattle, sometimes sheep but mostly large fields dotted with large trees, tree-lined avenues leading to farm houses, magnificently soft autumn-y colours, straight tree-lined field borders, wooden fence posts, more and more trees... it really is a wonder to see. Farms cover this whole region. And where there are not fields there is indigenous forest and patches of pine plantation. Patches.
We also enjoyed crossing the wooden bridges for sights of shallow rivers bubbling over pebbles and rocks. This area is a wonder.
Our route took us back through Panguipulli, where we stayed the night before last. We know the supermercado there so we hit it for recarga - recharge data for our local phone. The sweet lady kindly loaded it for me.
The place we're staying tonight is one of the best of my life! I found it yesterday on AirBnB. I liked the photo. It is a lovely wooden cabin on a farm just outside of Futrono. Patricia, our hostess, met us at the gate with a warm smile. This is a working farm with cattle, chickens, geese and bees (the bees and honey seem to be her dad's pet project). We met her sister and mom too in the lovely big house just up from our cabaña.
We have a lounge with a wonderful wood-fired heater (kaggel in Afrikaans). Bliss! The small kitchen is just perfect - simple and plenty of everything. Patricia gave us a basket with apples from the farm and a half-dozen fresh farm eggs. I whipped up an onion - baby marrow - apple quiche for dinner. Yum! She also gave us two pumpernickle bread muffins, which we'll eat with breakfast. I'm looking forward to a walk around in the morning. The vegetation is dense and a little stream runs right next to our cabaña.
Tomorrow (Monday) we're heading for Puerto Montt and Puerto Varas. I am so looking forward to see my friend Mane. It has been too many years since we last saw each other. We met at Patagonia Expedition Race in 2005 (Mane is a photographer) and again in 2006 and it must have been 2007 or 2008 that he was with me at the Himalayan Stage Race in India. I was running and writing; he was photographing. He has been back to India at least once or twice to photograph the event.
We have so many questions for Mane about Chile and these farms and southern towns. He also knows the south incredibly well so he'll guide us as to travel options and routes and must-see locations.
I have been to Puerto Varas before - in 2006 when my friends Heather and Michael Graz did the Patagonia Expedition Race. They were living and working here and after the race I spent a few days with them. I remember the wonderful sight of the volcano on the other side of the lake... we've been surrounded by them so far but with the thick, low cloud we haven't seen them!
I've got such great photos from today but my phone went totally wonky and I'm hesitant to connect it to the camera incase my phone has a virus that it will pass on... I'll get it checked when I'm back on wifi and then I'll update this post with images.
A few photos - bit of a wonky order (writing and uploading from an app on the phone). Huilo-Huilo falls, a river on the way (Monday), a viewpoint at Lagos Panguipulli, a farm fence post, our cabaña near Futrono. And a map showing our route to Futrono.