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Archive for the ‘South America’ Category

Arrival to Pucón

Saturday, January 14th, 2012

I have arrived to the last stop on this trip around South America: Pucón. Pucón is a huge tourist town that offers up many adventurous excursions, similar to Queenstown, New Zealand.

My plan for Sunday is to climb Volcán Villarrica, one of Chile’s most active volcanoes. Should be fun in the sun and on the snow! Following that, I may visit the local hot springs for the evening if I’m not too tired from the climb.

Goodbye Puerto Varas!

Saturday, January 14th, 2012

This morning I caught a bus north from Puerto Varas to Pucón, where I’ll be spending the last few days of this trip around South America. Puerto Varas, a small town with a large German and European influence, was the adventurous highlight of the trip thus far with rafting, kayaking, and hiking in perfect weather conditions for each activity.

Today I also parted ways with Greg and Tiff, who return to Bariloche and continue south on the Carretera Austral by bike, which is sure to be the highlight of their four month sabbatical. Some would call me a “third wheel” traveling with a married couple, but Greg and Tiff did an excellent job of not making me feel like one. We have known eachother since 2005, and our time together on this trip further solidified our friendship through the numerous highs and thankfully few lows. Towards the end of our time together, I often remarked with awe about how much has happened in just a matter of two and a half weeks – visiting Valpo and enjoying Pisco Sours (Chile’s national drink), spending New Years Eve in Santiago with Marcos out until 5am, visiting Teri and Oscar in Mendoza and touring the local wineries by bike, traveling by bus to the ash land of Bariloche (which was actually kind of cool to experience for a few days thinking back on it), biking around Bariloche’s nature preserve, eating the best steak of my life two nights in a row, ordering meals and bus tickets completely in Spanish, rafting and kayaking the Petrohué near Puerto Varas, and hiking to the farthest point from home that I would travel to on this trip. That farthest point, Lago Todos Los Santos, is where Greg and Tiff continue their adventure today. I wish you well on your journey, and I have no doubt that you’ll find what your’re looking for. Bueno.

Lago Todos Los Santos

Friday, January 13th, 2012

An unexpectedly cloudy morning today delayed our start to hike about 5km from the Saltos de Petrohué (waterfalls and rapids of the Petrohué river) to Lago Todos Los Santos, but we got going soon after lunch once the sky cleared and the winds calmed.

The Saltos offered spectacular views of Volcán Osorno, and the hike to Todos Los Santos was scenic but took us through horse fly city. Upon arriving to the lake, we were rewarded with spectacular views and refreshing water. I made a comment to Greg and Tiff that this would be the furthest from home that I would travel on this trip, but given the beauty of this area, I could definitely see myself returning someday.

The Innumerable Swarming Horse Flies of Patagonia

Friday, January 13th, 2012

For about three weeks to a month during the summer in Patagonia, a huge population of horse flies reaches maturity and trolls the riverbanks looking for nectar and mammals to swarm. As the only homo sapiens in the area during the sea kayaking trip, we were the perfect targets for the flies when we were near land.

The fly, scaptia lata, is called the Tábano by locals. It’s about an inch long, and it will sometimes deliver a moderately painful bite if it lands on you. According to our guide Niccolo, he has never seen a baby fly, and not much is known about them except for the supposed fact that if you catch one and eat it, you will not get bit by the fly again. Tiff and Greg might have to resort to that when they encounter them again on their trip south via the Carretera Austral.

Sea Kayaking near Puerto Varas

Thursday, January 12th, 2012

Over the past two amazing days, Greg, Tiff, and I have been kayaking the bottom portion of the Petrohué river and the fjord near Cochomó. Our guide, Niccolo, from Ko’kayak superbly navigated us to lunch spots, the Ralún Hot Springs, and our Chilean host family’s farm where we camped for the night. Our Chilean hosts, Juan Carlos and his mother Yolanda, were very friendly, and they served us an excellent dinner made almost entirely from the animals and produce on their farm.

Greg has posted a few of his photos on his blog that capture more of what it was like on the water.

In all we paddled over 40km and saw some breathtaking scenery. As my first kayaking trip, I’ve learned the basics and look for to the next adventure paddling across the water.