The 24 hour trip from Puerto Chacabuco to Puerto Montt was fabulous and gave us plenty of time to rest and to read. Neither of us are great at sitting still or resting when the sun is up, so being confined to a vehicle ferry was exactly what we needed. Exhaustion had caught up with us both and we must have slept for a solid 14 hours – such luxury!
We arrived in Puerto Montt around 7pm and rode straight on to Puerto Varas. Although only 20 kilometres separates the two towns, they really are worlds apart. The derelict houses, pot holes, stray dogs, litter and abandoned vehicles of Puerto Montt gave way to European style homes with manicures lawns, picket fences, beautiful churches, trendy cafes and tourist hotels. We explored the city, stayed one night and had the most amazing breakfast at Café Gringa (recommended to us by a friend living in Concepcion) – locally farmed salmon, poached eggs and hollandaise sauce. Even the coffee was good (which is saying something for Chile!).
Puerto Varas, also known as "La ciudad de las rosas" or “the city of roses”, is just beautiful. The town is famous for its German traditions (like the annual Kuchen Day celebrated on the first Saturday of February….but eaten throughout the year!) and characterized by traditional German architecture, with houses built from alerce wood using tools brought over from Europe by the 19th century colonial inhabitants. The town was designated a Zona Típica (heritage zone) in 1992 and has a number of protected buildings, including the Iglesia del Sagrado Corazón de Jesus (Sacred Heart of Jesus Church). Built in 1918 on one of the highest points in Puerto Varas, the wooden church is one of the city’s iconic landmarks.
The natural environment around Purto Varas is stunning to say the least. The town sits on the shores of Lago Llanquihue, the second largest lake in Chile. As we enjoyed our breakfast we overlooked the lake, the conical Osorno Volcano and the snowcapped peaks of Mt. Calbuco and Mt. Tronador. The view was nearly as good as our breakfast!
The Osorno Volcano guided us around the lake as we made our way towards our campground in Puyehue. We stopped for kuchen at a traditional German café along the way, enjoying the views over green fields, flower beds and of course the ever present volcano). The scenery was spectacular and we could feel the volcanic history of the place intertwined with the rich European culture.
Our camp site was sensational and we enjoyed our first swim of the trip in the fresh waters of Lago Llanquihue. A lakeside yoga practice (me), a swing in the hammock (Richard), and wine and cheese whilst watching the sun set completed another perfect day.