This week was all about outdoor actives, wood burning fires and soaking in hot springs.
After leaving Bariloche Argentina I took a comfortable 5 hour bus ride to Osorno Chile. The town it’s self wasn’t much, so I followed a suggestion and took a local bus an hour south of town to Puerto Octay and the remote Zapatillos Amarerillos Hostel, featuring living-roof cabins heated by wood burning stoves surrounded by green pastures with a view of Orsono Volcano. It’s not quite summer here and still off season so I shared the hostel with only one other couple who happened to be from Northern California. Being miles from anywhere they were kind enough to let me join them for an afternoon excursion to nearby Fruitilla, dinner and excellent conversation.
The remainder of the week I spent in Pucon, adventure capitol of Chile. A tourist mini-meca located at the foot of an active volcano and surrounded by lush green valleys. There are dozens of tour outfitters ready to take you up the 9342ft volcano, river rafting, kayaking, rappelling, ziplineing and something called Hydro-Speed which is with rafting except you get in the river and hold on to a large body board down the rapids. In summer you can simply hang out on the black sand beach and swim in the crystal clear lake. I recommend a bike ride to Los Ojos del Caburga, half day activity and on most local tours.
When I arrived on a cloudy day I signed up to climb the volcano, it’s “the thing” to do here and highly recommended. The following morning when I met up with my group, put on my rented gear and headed to the now sunny and exposed mountain I seriously doubted what I had gotten myself into. In my thirties, not even close to the best shape of my life and about to climb a serious mountain. I nearly gave up twice, only to be encouraged by the one guide who hung back to walk at my slower pace. 6 hours later I made it to the summit. I was envious of the people who were able to rent skis and ski down, that was not an option on my tour, rather we were given a flimsy piece of plastic and instructed to slide down on you butt. Using the ice pick for “control” the first half of the mountain I would have been more comfortable on skis, then it leveled to a reasonable grade and was like a childhood snow day dream.
I should probably mention that while I did put on sunscreen it was not strong enough and I didn’t reapply every hour and therefore got a very bad sunburn. Four days later I am red, pealing and parents overt their children’s eyes from my menacing three tone irritated skin. The worst part is I can’t smile, only a Bruce Jenner style like flat lip pull. This was particularly frustrating when I was rafting.
The water was clear and cold as our group of 7 enjoyed a 1 and 1/2 hour float through class III and IV rapids. Minutes out of town on AndesMar Tours guided our single boat down one of the most beautiful stretches of river I have rafted. The three hour round trip adventure cost $25,000 Chl Peso (about $40 USD).
With all these adventure sports Pucon offers the best way to relax, natural hot springs. There are half a dozen different hot springs outside of town that range from the swanky Geometricas ($40,000 Chl) to the remote natual Pozones ($15,000 Chl). I checked out two – Menetue the lowest price Spa & hot springs – were I treated myself to a post mountain climb massage. I also went to Pozones for a night visit, an absolute must do when in Pucon. Soaking under the stars, sipping wine from a water bottle, dashing between the 7 pools all with varying temperatures while listening to the rushing river just feet away. Photo’s can not to this natural valley, river and hotsprings justice.
Continuing north in search of warmer weather, wine country, and beaches.