Tuesday, January 31, 2017

Chiloe and the camping adventures

So after the previously written days near castro, it was time to get away from all civilisation and get in touch with mother nature. Chiloe has several national parks and along with 2 new Israeli friends, we headed to the park along the Pacific Ocean two hours west.

Now I've been on some bumpy bus rides, but this one might just have taken the cake. Forget putting 25 cents into a motel bed, this thing will make your rattle itself out through your ears. Bounce bounce! Passed an awesome lake on the way and left all trace of pavement behind. At the coast we turned south to save us a little hike and bounce along a further 30 min. Up and down hills with great ocean views.

We were dropped off at the entrance to the Muelle de las Almas, one of the highlights of the Parque  (park).  It turned out that we were not quite there. A 40 minute hike was on the menu,through wetlands, rolling hills and more ocean views. Some of the best scenery in Chile so far. Green all around you with isolated, windswept beaches on both sides. Saddled by our packs, it was a great hike.

The view at the end was amazing and well worth it. The Muelle de la Almas comes from an ancient belief on the island that this is where souls leave land and go to the afterlife. An artist built an amazing port going out into the great blue yonder. Epically done, this is what people come here for.

Unfortunately, people do not know how to line up to take a picture. No one was standing at the base of the port, rather they were scattered all over the ground, not assembling a line at all. Rather disorganized chaos, especially for all the new hikers every few minutes, who would try to take a picture and get yelled at. What made matters even more comical was that each group that went out for pictures took at least 5 minutes. A family of 5 took several family shots, then solo ones,  then siblings, and then for some reason, the dad separate with each of the kids. We just laughed at how long it was taking. Our turn came after over an hour and we sped through the photos. It was an applause worthy length of time, compared to the others.

Then back to a new part of the park to hike in and set up tents and get our feast on. We didn't find our ideal spot as they want campers to be at camping facilities around the park. We ended up on the property of 80+ year old Doña Carmen, nearby a lake. She was a spunky lady who in the middle of making bread, showed us around the area with flour all over her hands. The rain that night dampened the trip a bit,  but I got to use my new tent for the first time and didn't get soaked overnight, just a couple of wet spots inside without a rain cover. And I live to ride again!

Chiloe adventures part 1

The island of Chiloe is just off the coast of Chile. It's a step backward in time, where things are slower, quieter and seem to be more in touch with the culture of olden days. Yes, the days of old.  You take a bus, which goes on a ferry,and then drive slowly around small towns till you reach your destination. Which for me,  was Castro, the largest town, a perfect hub for exploringthe island.

Castro is known for old houses called Palafitos, that are on stilts over the water. Painted brightly, they are slowly transforming into cafes and hotels as the tourism booms. Very cool from the sea, but from the street, they look like normal houses. One of the hotels let me in for a sneak peak, and it was awesome inside and the back patio on the water was perfect.

I took a small boat across the sea to a small town called Yutuy for a local fair that was awesome. Great to see the small, local area and as it was all about eating,  I got down to it. Pigs roasting on spits, lamb shanks, ribs of goats and local potatoes were abounding, but the highlight was the Curanto, a feast cooked over hot stones in the ground. Loads of shellfish were tossed in first, then large leaves were placed to steam them, followed by chicken, potatoes, beef and potato pancakes. More leaves and 1 hour later, it was time to feast. Quite the large portion and the line was long as this is a special meal. Tasty and filling, it was good to try, and reminded me of meals in the South Pacific,such as the hangi in New Zealand.

Wednesday, January 25, 2017

Lake Llanquihue


Here are a few photos taken from a tour I tool around Lake Llanquihue.   The lake is surrounded by the Andes, 2 volcanoes and small towns. We stopped by a couple lagoons, visited some epic waterfalls at Petrohue,  went to the chairlift on the volcano to hike as high as you could without gear and got a good taste of the area. Hiking through craters on the volcano was awesome, with so many different colors of volcanic rock. Snow covered up top and with parts that felt like outer space,  it was another good experience on a volcano in Chile.

Small towns such as Llanquihue and Frutillar were full of people on the beaches drinking fresh juices and looking over the lake at the volcanoes. I relaxed a bit and even found an awesome Bierfest at the local German Club. Loud, boisterous and full of German food and local beers, I had a blast.


Using the blogger app so I apologize for the layout. But that's the traveling life. At least you get a cute picture of a grey fox (zorro chilla ) from the adventures. We were reading a sign about the foxes and then boom, there the fox was. Amazing. 

Saturday, January 21, 2017

The life in Chile


After being in Chile for 3 weeks now, I thought I'd give a few thoughts on the country. It's very efficient and reminds me of the US with both it's diversity of landscape and the cost.  Prices are pretty similar to back home, not the cheapest country for backpacking around in. Buy well worth it to meet the people,  experience the country and eat some darn good food.

Speaking of food, Chileans are definitely a Latin country, eating dinner super late. I've found myself going to the market after 8 pm to buy food to cook. This makes for later starts in the morning, but hey, it's vacation, and nothing happens too early in Chile apart from climbing volcanoes.

I've been on 3 boat tours so far, and each one has you pay when you're out in the middle of water. They'll often idle the engine and joke that they'll throw you off if you don't pay. Classic Chilean humor.

At restaurants,  they will list the type of meat or fish, and then you have to order the rice or potatoes separately, at an extra charge. Same with a spaghetti place that you order your pasta for $8 and then choose your sauce for $2-4 more.

It's a great country and normally rates as travelers favorite country in South America. I've been loving it and have a few more days til I fly to Buenos Aires on Thursday.   Good times indeed!

Thursday, January 19, 2017

Frutillar

hello there people!  The small town of Frutillar was built with a German influence. Lots of German style architecture and desserts in the area. It's right on the water and I had the perfect weather to see the volcanoes in the distance and relax with a good coffee.   This place is awesome. Super laid back and a place to enjoy doing nothing with the sun shining. As I am dealing with a toe injury, it is nice to have places like these to chill out in. Just a 30 min minibus ridea away. More relaxed here than in the busier Puerto Varas,  where I am staying at the moment. 

Tuesday, January 17, 2017

Click to view Valparaíso street art photos

Here's some of the best shots from Valparaiso. Loved that city and this is a.taste of what it's like to walk around. Enjoy!

Monday, January 16, 2017

More volcano videos

video
This video shows what it was like to hike through the snow. Crampons!

Sunday, January 15, 2017

Reaching the summit

video

Just a snippet of the hike up the volcano. This is reaching the summit, wearing an awesome snowsuit and a gas mask. Perfect weather for an ascent of an epic volcano.  Spoiler alert : no lava in the video,  but you get a good idea of what the crater looks like on top. Saving you a 1400m climb to the top elevation of 2847m 

Saturday, January 14, 2017

Fun on the river

After an awesome rafting trip a couple days ago, I decided to give hydrospeed a shot. People were talking it up and it was something I'd never tried before. Pretty much, you hold on to a plastic boogie board and go down rapids like that. There is a wetsuit, helmet and life jacket involved, but its pretty much just you and the rapids.

The rapids part was fun and didn't feel that fast or crazy. Steering was the main challenge as you use flippers to move around. With the current, and rocks, it made for a difficult trek. But it's one of those things I'll try once in my lifetime.   Not going to do it agsin, but I felt a little like Butch and Sundance going down the rapids.

Thursday, January 12, 2017

Rafting in Pucon

Hiking Villarica Volcano (lava lava lava!!!!)


So, the life has been just as amazing as always the last few days. No internet for 3 days, just straight fun out and about in Chile.  First there was rafting, then there was kayaking and on the 3rd day, an epic hike up an active volcano to see lava erupting down below.  Ill write about that one for now.  At an internet cafe using a keyboard to type better than on the phone, so Ill be dealing with a Chilean keyboard, which shows all of these words as mispelled, and my punctuation shall be lacking.  Never fear, I still know how to type!

Im in Pucon now, an awesome town surrounded by lakes, volcanoes, forests, hot springs, rivers and pure amazingness.  Lots to do here, full of action sports and chill vibes.  The highlight is definitely the Volcan Villarica, high above the city, smoking all the time, quite active and the centerpiece of all the events.  Rafting happens every day by the numerous tour companies, but the accension of the volcano is only when the weather permits.  As I saw Wednesday to be the best weather day this week, it had to be then, and after being turned down by several tour companies who were full, I scored a spot with Sur Adventura.  Great tour company and they got me all sized up for my gear.

We met up at 6:30am, to gather gear and load up.  The van needed a jump start as the battery was dead, but that was really the only hiccup on the trip.  At the parking lot was a chair lift that people could take up to start an easier hike, but I went with 5 others and 2 guides by foot.  Cant pass up climbing by foot as much as possible.

The first 2 hours was through rock, with epic views above and below.  Then we hit the snow and put on the crampons and got out the ice axe.  Time to walk zig zag up the rest of the volcano.  Super icy and crunchy, and we walked pretty much sideways going upwards.  Lots of people were climbing through other tour companies, with around 200 total for the day, all hiking around the same time.

After another 2 hours or so of zig zagging, it was time to drop the backs, put on gas masks due to the amount of gas coming out of the volcano and head to the crater.  Before the gas mask was on, we were already coughing a bit, so the mask was definitely necessary.

We could hear the lava brewing and in the 15 minutes around the crater, it exploded 5 times, with teh highest being 15-20 feet high.  My guide, Grace, happened to capture the above shot with me and lava shooting up.  Just amazing.  Its the only photo that has lava actually flying up in the air, which makes it the best picture of the day.

To get down, we strapped on "ass protection", pretty much super thick canvas that allows you to slide down the mountain without ripping your pants.  A natural sled!  You sit down and slide down, using your ice axe to slow down, and can get pretty darn fast, sometimes with snow flying all around, and you not able to really see.  Crazy fun and we had 5 such slides, with the longest being at least 4 football fields long.  Epic!

Then it was sliding down loose stone to get back to the bottom.  The group of 4 of us, with Grace were the fastest out of our van, so we had time to wait for the others, have a celebratory beer and take a little nap.  Quite the day!  Heres a few more photots:


Styling suit!

Old ski station that an avalanche and rock slide took over


People sliding down the snow to the rocks

Friday, January 6, 2017

Pablo Neruda's house


One of the legends of Chile is the poet Pablo Neruda. The man has three houses in Chile  that all our amazing and one of a kind. We visited La Sabastiana  high in the hills overlooking the city. Such an impressive building with 5 levels all completely different shapes carving and winding upwards. Inside the house was full of interesting  collections from around the world such as old maps, a carousel horse and a stuffed flamingo.  Definitely one of the best views from inside a house, Neruda had views of the entire bay.







Valparaiso


From the city out to the coast, the adventure continues. I've been in Valparaiso and the small towns north for the last few days and it's amazing. So chill here, packed full of happy, vacationing prople, out playing in the sun and exploring the hills all around.

Valparaiso is made up of over 40 hills overlooking the ocean. Pure bliss. All over there are good views and the weather has been perfect. It's like goldilocks said, just right. We've had some beach days, a boat trip around the harbor (valparaiso used to be a major stopping off point for ships going around the southern tip of South America. So lots of history, sights and good vibes here. The streets are full of travelers, locals, sailors and dogs. Very electric around here.

We stayed the first 3 nights north in the small town of Concon.  Much quieter up there and will smaller beaches and great restaurants, it's been a good base. Now I'm staying 2 nights in the hills of Valparaiso with amazing street art all around. Pretty damn amazing.

The days are long, which means both the sun is out for a super long time, but also that which means that we also stay out for a very long time which can be quite entertaining.  Everything starts at a later time and if you missed the morning that's how it goes. Overall the days are pretty darn good here.