Puerto Montt today
We had fond memories of Puerto Montt. We were last here twelve years ago with my parents and remembered walking through the town and a craft market. I looked forward to revisiting the small town and to seeing if it was as I recalled.
I couldn’t wait to open the curtains this morning and take a look – are we there yet?
I quickly called my hero to come and see the volcano on the horizon. Wow!
As we ate breakfast, the skies changed and the shafts of light over the mountains were simply gorgeous. The volcano disappeared into the clouds and didn’t put in another appearance all day.
It was another tender ride into the port and once again, I spotted something of interest on the journey. Heaven help us if we ever need to make use of the tools and other emergency equipment on board – but it’s good to know that it’s there, I suppose.
The usual security checks awaited us accompanied by broad smiles and this attractive mural on the warehouse wall.
We were heading out of town first, along the last bit of the Pan American Highway in Chile towards Puerto Varas and then along the lakeside and into the National Park to see some waterfalls.
The small towns here are mostly built of wooden shingle homes and were settled by mostly German immigrants.
There’s an outdoorsy feel to the area and plenty of activities on offer, like fly fishing, sailing and horseback riding.
(Sorry about the reflection!)
Lake Llanquihue is huge – the second largest lake in Chile – and is surrounded by volcanoes such as the one we’d seen first thing this morning.
A little further along, we were to see evidence of that too, because Calbuco, the volcano just to the east of here had erupted last April, showering the whole of the area with ash, much of which had simply been swept to the side of the road.
Once into the National Park, the rocks were clearly of volcanic origin too with rounded shapes and soft curves. Interesting!
We walked down to the falls at Petrohue along a dusty volcanic ash pathway.
Here, the river squeezed through several narrow channels.
Having squeezed through the narrow channels, the bright blue-green oxygenated water looked stunning against the black rock .
We walked around the area, noticing that water was squeezing through every gap.
This was my favourite, where a large expanse of water “folded” itself into a small channel. As you know, I find water like this mesmerising.
At this point, someone muttered that they felt cheated; that this wasn’t a waterfall at all but just a few rapids. Oh. Dear. Me.
What was interesting is that this volcanic rock was totally different in character from the earlier “bubbly” area we’d walked through. This was darker in colour and almost like fused slate.
I thought it a really beautiful area in which to spend an hour, especially since that volcano, Osorno, was brooding there in the distance. It’s the same volcano as we’d seen this morning and the top third is covered in snow, as we’d seen for ourselves but others simply had to take Andrea’s word for it.
As we walked back to the coach, I spotted a sign. My Spanish is very limited indeed, but I can sniff out a good thing when I see it and this little heap of home made manjar needed to be sampled, for sure. $2000 - £2 – and the deal was done.
We drove back along the same lakeside road as we’d come, past potato fields enriched by the volcanic ash.
We passed the German school as we entered the town of Puerto Varas
and parked up for an hour underneath a tangle of overhead cables.
We set out to explore this little town, enjoying the faintly frontier-town vibe.
We noticed further evidence of the German heritage here and there
and bought a bottle of shampoo in the drugstore!
The little grocery store had a wonderful selection of empanadas, all looking delicious and very tempting indeed. But we had a reservation for fine dining tonight and must resist!
We wandered down to the lakeside where a few hardy souls were swimming in the glacial water.
Two small boys were giggling and throwing a fish around – was it a real fish or a rubber toy? Who knows – but it was fun and they were in good spirits!
Not known for my love of birds (!), I was nevertheless interested in this rather pretty one, wading in a rock pool there. I have no idea what it is but always enjoy the different sights and sounds of another continent.
The craft goods on sale were very much of this place and though they looked fine on a hanger here, would not really fit in anywhere else.
An uneventful ride back into Puerto Montt left us with a couple of hours to take a look at the market there and to take a walk down memory lane.
Yes, it was just as we remembered it but twelve years on does not entice us to make any more purchases than we did on that occasion. Actually, by this time it was starting to rain (or, as Andrea said, beginning to apply a little moisture to the complexion). The craft market crowd was mooching along very slowly and someone was getting a little fed up with it all. We upped our pace and hot footed it to the fish market, a bit further along.
This was all undercover, so the moisture was merely underfoot. Just like the fish markets I remember from my childhood in Hull, such fresh fish wasn’t at all smelly and it was fascinating to see the large salmon there on sale at bargain prices.
$3000 a pound – that’s £3. My goodness, we could have a feast.
There was plenty of choice when it came to smoked fish and shellfish too.
But peering outside, the rain was coming down harder and even though we were equipped for wet weather, we were ready for home. As we stepped onto the tender, the seaman pulled up the gangway and we were off, back across the harbour to our sleek, white ship.
This morning, we are sailing down another fjord, towards Puerto Chacabuco where we will arrive around lunchtime. In a few minutes, we’ll enjoy a commentary from Terry Breen, our on board expert, who will point out anything of interest as we make our way into Patagonia.
I’ll tell you all about it later!