Our next and final stop was Puerto Varas, about 100 miles south of both Valdivia and Pucón. Puerto Varas is a small, lakeside town (about 50,000 residents) that is well-known for its German heritage, the Osorno volcano off in the distance, and its kuchen (german cakes)! Puerto Varas is often considered the "Doorway to Patagonia" and is is surrounded by lush green pastures and tranquil towns that are meant for exploring.
We arrived in the early afternoon drizzle, made our way to the hostel past the large, very-German-looking Puerto Varas German church. That afternoon was filled with exploration on foot of the town and a trip to the much smaller, picturesque town of Frutillar -- to seek out the region's best kuchen. (note to readers, you must look up the pronunciation of this word and repeat it in your most forced German accent throughout this post). After a long walk from homely upper-Frutillar to the beautiful lower-Frutillar on the lakeside we strolled the quiet streets and made enquiries with the locals as to where we could find the best kuchen. We were directed by a tour office guide (who looked like he knew his kuchen) to a small shop called "Kuchenladen". There we enjoyed the dense pastry and a double café cortado, and, drunk on our kuchen we strolled back around the beautiful Teatro del Lago Theatre (considered the largest in Chile and the best acoustic concert hall in South America).
The next day Julia and I caught a bus east toward the Petrohue waterfalls, rumored to be a beautiful sight. We explored the falls (swollen by the recent rainfall) and surrounding trails, and tried to picture the vista if the low, grey clouds weren't obstructing our view of the snowcapped Osorno volcano.
After the waterfalls we flagged another bus to carry us on to Petrohue, which is not really a town but more a calm, ominous end of the line for travellers catching boats over the waters and into Argentina. The low grey clouds and steep, densely-treed mountainsides that fall directly into the water give this area a rough and tranquil character.
We made our way back to Puerto Varas, on a packed microbus half full of local berry pickers and their buckets of red berries. Back in town we gathered our bags, sought out our final kuchen, and walked through the dark streets to the bus station to make our way home to Santiago.
|The church in Puerto Varas.|
|View of Puerto Varas from the waterline.|
|German heritage in Frutillar. Note to English speakers....this building is not what you may think it is.|
|The Teatro del Lago Theatre, almost out of place in this tiny town.|
|The theatre up close. Very cool with the colored planks of wood.|
|Julia and me at the Petrohue waterfalls.|
|A random waterfall in the Vicente Pérez Rosales National Park (where we saw the big waterfalls).|
|Very lush vegetation.|
|The small harbor in Petrohue.|
|The forest ranger's post -- note the volcanic ashe that has consumed the building (that wooden piece to the right is the door).|