Wednesday 8 June 2016

We love Puerto Varas

We had two goals today: to check out the Petrohue River and to see a volcano. We did both.

Overlooking Puerto Varas are two volcanoes - the impressively cone-shaped Orsono and the nearby Calbuco. Less cloud was forecast for today and by the time we got going we could see most of Orsono and a little of Calbuco.

We headed for Orsono - there is a road going up it to a ski centre - and also out this way is the Petrohue River and waterfalls. The top of Orsono had only a tiny cloud halo as we drove to the river and with the sun out, the sky was blue.

The setup at the falls is well geared for tourists with walkways and trails. There is little water at the moment, so the falls were not much to see. We did enjoy the rocks and azure of the water. Down the trails we had good sightings of the river and checked out nice rapids. Celliers likes very much. High water is in September and they can also have excellent levels in June, July and August if rainfall is good.

Here is a funny... from the trail we got down on to the rocky beach next to the trail. Even at 20 metres away and 3m up the perspective of the size of the rocks is wonky. I suggested to Celliers to stay below and I went to the trail to photograph him for perspective. I couldn't see him so I started calling his name. After a few calls he replied and said he could see me. I couldn't see him!

It took me a few moments to find him. He was totally camouflaged! His black pants looked like shadow and his grey fleece top was the colour of the boulders. He looked like a river rock! 

I've included a photo showing the river and rocks. Open big and see if you can find him. I've included a second zoomed in photo showing him lying on the rocks. Very funny!

In 2006, when I was out in Chile to write for the Patagonia Expedition Race, I spent a few days with friends Heather and Michael who had done the race and were living and working in Puerto Varas. They took me rafting on the Petrohue. I remember lots of water, fast flow, fun rapids and lovely wave trains. This is further downstream from where we were today.

From the falls we drove upstream, checking out the river where we could access it, to the start of the river where it flows out from Lago Todos los Santos. And then we turned around and headed for Volcan Orsono.

What a road! Not far up the road we encountered this bird of prey. He was strutting up and down next to the road. We watched him, took photos and then drove off. He was totally unconcerned. What a great sighting to get such a good look at him. Mane identified him as a Southern Crested Caracara, known as 'Carancho' or called 'Trado' in Argentina. Caracara plancus is his scientific name.

Up, up, up the road winds. The daytime temperature today has been around 9 to 11 C. Up top... 3C (or less - the car hit 3, started blinking but didn't go below). Brrr... 3C is cold. Thank you down jacket!

We had hot chocolate and a sandwich at the restaurant, looked at the lower part of the snow-covered slopes, saw the ski lifts and then headed back down. There is usually more snow at this time of year. They have had a dry summer.

We've only seen a bit of the town - it looks great. This is a massively popular tourist spot in the summer,  especially in February. The population is around 25,000. Many people here work in Puerto Montt - 17km south on the sea.

Tomorrow we continue south. We'll spend a few hours in Puerto Montt and then catch the first of three ferry rides on our journey to the Futaleufu River.

No comments: