Decisions, decisions…   Leave a comment

Sunday 19th and Monday 20th October 2014

From Valdivia we take the bus to Puerto Varas on Lake Llanquihue, starting point of the Cruce de Lagos, one of the most iconic crossings of the Andes that takes you via Lago Todos Los Santos, the most beautiful of the lakes, Lago Frias and Lago Nahuel Huapi to Bariloche in Argentina. This trip I couldn’t do in 2010, as there is no way to take a motorbike on the boats, and I am very much looking forward to an unforgettable experience.

When we enquire about the details of the journey, three obstacles raise their heads: the price – 280 USD per person, the weather forecast – rain, clouds and fog will last at least until Thursday, and the time – we cannot wait three days until the sky clears, as we will need sufficient buffer days on the Carretera Austral where buses are scarce and may only run twice a week. There is no point spending a vast amount of money if we can’t see anything of the gorgeous landscape.

Well, what are our priorities? I would like to see the Saltos de Petrohué (waterfalls) and the Lago Todos Los Santos – the fact that the ferry trip also takes you to Argentina is a welcome side effect, but there is also a very beautiful bus journey over the Paso Puyehue (Complejo Frontizero Cardenal Antonio Samore), which is far cheaper and more reliable.

A tour agency offers a day excursion to Petrohué which includes visiting the falls and a boat trip on Lago Todos Los Santos for CLP 34,000 (around £35) per person. With the helpful agent we arrange that we can just turn up on the day after checking the weather in the morning (usually they want you to book a day in advance, understandably).

As we have found an absolute gem of a hotel (El Greco), we decide to stay two days in Puerto Varas and hope that the weather improves.

We are not the only ones affected by the cold climate

Puerto Varas in the rain

This is what it should look like

Our superb accommodation – Hotel El Greco

Local delicacy Paila Marina in the evening

We do a bit more research and then take the local bus to Petrohué the next day. The route follows the south shore of Lake Llanquihue.

The driver drops us at the waterfalls, the road is being repaired further ahead and apparently closed. Ok, although we have planned to visit the lake first, we obey and head for the –

We can almost see the Volcán Osorno…

The vegetation is absolutely amazing

We spend just under two hours at the falls – in comparison: on the Cruce de Lagos you are allowed only 20 minutes… Leaving the visitor centre, we start walking the six kilometres to Petrohué village along the unpaved road.

It’s dry and pleasant but still a long stroll – fortunately, after 1.5 kilometres, we manage to blag a lift with an empty tourist bus to the shore of Lago Todos Los Santos. And here I am very grateful to have my dad with me; while I am far too hesitant, Johannes just approaches a skipper who is about to set sail and asks in a mix of English, Spanish and sign-language if he can take us on a boat trip. The reply comes in German – by chance we have stumbled across a group of German tourists who are shipped across the lake for a long hike; we can join them for a small fee and will then be taken back in the otherwise empty vessel. I am over the moon!


The weather has held the whole day and our self-made trip has cost us CLP 9,000 (under ten pounds) per person – we are more than pleased!

For the next day we buy the bus tickets to Bariloche and look forward to the road journey to Argentina.

Puerto Varas by night

All pictures from Puerto Varas, Saltos de Petrohué and Lago Todos Los Santos here, #857 to 1,185

Posted 23 October 2014 by Pumpy in Chile, The 2014 Rucksack Trip

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