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Wednesday, March 29, 2006

The Lake District

This past weekend me and my friend Laura went to the Lake District which is south of Santiago for four days. The Lake District is huge and so we chose one area to be in. We left Wednesday night and took an overnight 10 hour bus to Pucón which is a small town which is apparently really busy in the summer but this time of year was pretty empty.

Day 1
We found a place to stay, dropped off our stuff and got on another bus and took it to a tiny little “town” about half an hour away called Caburgua. Basically there is a lake. It had started to rain and so was pretty cloudy and so you couldn’t see much of the lake or the surrounding hills. The road into town literally ends at the lake, and with the clouds, everything just disappeared. Here is Laura walking out to the end of the road.

From there we decided to walk about 4 km down the road to Ojos de Caburgua which are small waterfalls. It was raining a little but we both had raincoats and so decided just to walk in the rain. All along the road were tons of blackberry bushes and so the walk took us slightly longer because we stopped about every 30 seconds to eat lots and lots of yummy blackberries. At some point we ran into a dog that decided to stay with us. This is very common that you will just find a dog when walking and it will follow you as far as you are going. At some point the dog climbed off the road into the woods. We decided to follow it and there was a path in the woods that continued parallel to the road. We then realized that all of a sudden there was a fence between us and the road because we had walked onto private property. We ended up having to hop over 3 different gates before finally getting back onto the road. At this point it was really raining and we were getting wetter. As we turned off the road to find the waterfall, some other tourists going there who saw we were very wet offered us a ride for the last part. By the time we got there we were completely soaked and decided that we couldn’t get any wetter and so we should just enjoy ourselves. We walked through the pouring rain and finally came upon this…

The picture doesn’t do it justice but we were in the middle of the woods, in the pouring rain, surrounded by crystal clear water and amazing waterfalls, it was definitely worth the trip in the rain. After getting lost finding the road, finding the right path, and then riding in the back of a pick-up for the last bit, we made it back to the road to catch the bus. We were so wet that we had to stand the whole ride back so that we didn’t get the seats wet and when we got off there were two giant puddles where we had been standing. I was wearing 5 layers of shirts and jackets and every single layer was soaked through. It took the next two days for our jeans and shoes to dry. Even with the rain, it was a lot of fun.

Day 2
We woke up the next day and the rain had cleared. With the sky clear, we realized that right there in the town you could see the giant active volcano that is nearby.

We got an early start and took a bus to Parque Nacional Huerquehue to do a 19 km (about 12 miles) lake trail. What the guide book didn’t specify was that the first 8 km or so zigzag up a really really steep hill. To give you an idea of how high we climbed… the trail started at the same level as this lake. Here is a view we had of the lake after going up hill, and we kept going up after that.

The trail takes you past two waterfalls and about 5 different lakes. The whole trail was gorgeous, taking us through dense forests with really cool trees and then came out on these lakes that were really blue and clear, right there in the middle of the mountains. Some pictures of the lakes, trees and forests.

The whole way down the hill we were at that point where your legs are so tired they feel like jello. We had to keep walking because every time we stopped we felt like we might fall over. The whole hike took us six or seven hours. We got back to Pucón, got some dinner and got into bed around 9:30, we were so exhausted. A beautiful hike, well worth the effort.

Day 3
We took a bus into another small town, Coñaripe. It turns out this is a very small town, and in the off season it is a really really small town. There were no other tourists there at all, and we couldn’t even find an open place to stay. After walking around with all our stuff for a while and getting tired of carrying it, we decided to settle down on the completely deserted lake beach. It was a beautiful day and we ended up spending the whole day on the beach in this tiny little town in the middle of nowhere. The water was warm enough to swim, so of course I got in which was so nice. Floating in the middle of a giant lake surrounded by mountains. Also, from the middle of the lake I could see that same snow covered volcano…beautiful.

We ended up finding the one place open to stay the night which was just a family that rented out rooms and served breakfast.

Day 4
Our last day was the least exciting. We planned to spend the day in Villarica, another small touristy town. Again, this time of year there is not much to do and it was slightly rainy so we just ended up wandering around, walking down to the lake and then catching a bus back to Pucón where we wandered around some more and walked down to that beach too. We hung out on the lake beach (it had stopped raining by then) until it was time to catch our bus back to Santiago. Another 10 hour overnight bus arriving Monday morning. I went back to sleep for a couple hours before rushing off to Monday afternoon class.

It was an amazing trip and so much fun. It was so nice to just be traveling with one other person. The first tripI took here, traveling with five other people was a little much for me, and it is so much easier to travel with just one or two other people, especially after having spent a month traveling by myself. I am going to try and travel in small groups from now on.


At 10:47 PM, March 30, 2006, Blogger Becca said...

I love the beautiful outdoors! (And your beautiful pictures of it). I'm going camping and hiking this weekend (leaving tomorrow) and right now it is raining in Melbourne. Hopefully it will not rain all weekend, at least not where I'm headed. If it does I might have a very wet experience as well. Love you! -Becca

At 9:35 AM, April 10, 2006, Blogger sonja said...

you can't really get lost and jump fences and run into waterfalls here...i'm glad someone gets to do so. looks absolutely beautiful.


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