Thompson Travelers

Travel is a way to be lost…and found…all at the same time

Category: Chile

Crossing the Andes

These Andes Mountains are really something spectacular.  They stretch from the far north of South America in Venezuela all the down through Chile and Argentina.  We are traveling from the west side, leaving Chile behind, and crossing the mountains over to Argentina. Apparently, it was done in 1916 by Teddy Roosevelt by mule, and by Che Guevara in 1952 on a Norton motorcycle taking 29 days. It won’t be easy, but we are leaving Puerto Varas at 7am, and will be taking a bus- a boat, a bus – a boat, a bus, a third boat, and a fourth and final bus to our destination of Bariloche.  It’s the only way to cross other than flying.  It’s all about the journey today and not the destination.

Llamas on the side of the road

Who knew that Chile was a land of 2000 volcanos, 90 of them active, 2 of them very active.  The last one to blow in this area was in 2015, blowing sand and ash four times higher than the volcano is high, with 20” landing all over everything, enough to cave in rooftops of buildings.  This national park is covered with black ash with amazing turquoise blue waters from the mineral deposits.

Osorno Vocanic National Park and Petrahue rapids

Crossing these mountains takes us into uncharted territory as far as civilization goes.  There are no roads for cars around the borders of these lakes, so the only way to get across is by boat across the lakes through these mountains.

Double decker catamarans to cross the lakes

These breathtaking vistas leave you speechless really.  The Andes are the among the  highest mountains, second only to the Himalayas.  It’s like a combination of Yosemite together with Lake Tahoe.  It’s just oh so beautiful!!  This area gets 220 days of rain a year so everything is very green, with clouds forming some amazing formations across the water.

Crossing the lakes

So there are a few crazies who love to live in lovely spots along the lakes.  Crazy because they are totally out in the wilderness, they have no running water and no electricity.  They have to collect rain water (of which they get a lot) and have generators to power lights.  Once a month they connect with these boats that we are on, to go to town (half a day away) to buy a month’s supply of groceries.  They really like living way out on their own.  There are approximately 1000 people living on the edge of these lakes like this.  What do you think?!  Would you want to do this?  Do they even have internet?  And yes…this is the real color of the water…it’s the minerals in the snow melt that comes from the glaciers of the Andes.

Living in isolation

Crossing at the border into Argentina

Che Guevara – “The Motorcycle Diaries”

We finally made it to Argentina…it took slightly over twelve hours to reach Bariloche, which is now in the dark, but it was a breathtaking, scenic journey of mountains and lakes fairly untouched by civilization.  It took 5 buses and 3 boats to cross the lakes but we made it across the Andes to the other side.  Just gorgeous through the entire day…

Germans in Chile?

There are sixteen districts in Chile, numbered from north to south, 1-16, which are like our states.  We’ve traveled 600 miles south to #10, the Lake District, and what a difference!  Most noticeable is the change of weather to cold and rainy!  The bad news is it’s raining; the good news is there are lots of lakes and it’s very green.  They actually get 220 days a year of rain.  Two of of three days it rains and this is one of those days.  So we will be freezing for the next day since most of our luggage is sleeveless shirts, sandals, and shorts.

Puerto Varas

Our new city of Puerto Varas was founded in 1850 when 300,000 Germans immigrated here and set up the city.  They still have two German schools here.  That may go a long way to explaining why so many Chileans look European, as does this town, and why our tour guide’s name is Andreas, the same name as one of my good friends from Germany.

Wood siding and tin roofs

The town is made 95% of wood with tin or shingled roofs and hasn’t changed its style since the 1850s.

Church of the Heart of Jesus…all wood

Church of the heart of Jesus…also all wood

Their number one industry is farming salmon, producing more than 800,000 tons of salmon a year.  Number two is producing 65% of the country’s milk, and number three is tourism.

I have to say, it looks a lot like little German towns we saw when traveling through Germany.  It’s delightfully charming…we just wish the sun was out.

We will be seeing a lot more of the lakes tomorrow…starting at 6am!!

Guess what’s on the menu for dinner tonight?  What else but salmon!!

A Day in Santiago, Chile

We set out for a city tour this morning, riding by bus through this very modern town of tall glass buildings, wide streets, and broad sidewalks. We can tell from the amount of sidewalk cafes and restaurants, they the weather here must be beautiful for much of the year.

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