Sunday, February 3, 2013

Keep moving. –Hunter S. Thompson

The glacier dotted mountains we could see far across the water from Chiloe beckoned to us.  It is known as Northern Patagonia in Chile.  Here is where the Carretera Austral begins.  On that road you drive and take several ferries to make your way south on the Southern Coast.  The road was begun in 1976 under Pinochet.  It would make a wonderful road adventure.

Kilometer 1 begins at the waterfront in Puerto Montt near this Chilean volleyball game.  Would someone please tighten that net?

This is the first ferry.  It takes 30 minutes to cross an extremely large estuary that resembles a fjord.  There was no where to spend the night so we took the ferry onward.

We spent the night in this very rustic cabana.  It poured rain nearly all night without let up.

The sofa was nearly as old as I am.  We could have hot water, or we could move the gas tank and run the stove.  These owners saw us coming as it was getting close to 9 pm, even though it is light until about 10 pm.  

 The road hardly looked like it had rained all night.  However, the huge ferns that predominated the landscape along the road indicated that a lot of rain falls here often.

One of the reasons we decided to come this way was to experience the hot springs.  These were very nice and expensive, as all Chile is for the US dollar.  We paid about $30 US (14,000 Chilean Pesos) to use them.

A young man led us to the termales.

There were at least four different areas to soak.  These were about as hot as we keep our hot tub at home.  Lounge chairs were provided, and it was a great place to have a picnic.

Hornopiren is where the second ferry is located.  There are only two sailings a day, and you must make reservations if you are driving a car.  It takes 5 hours to reach the next point to drive.  We considered riding as passengers, but we would have had to turn around after an hour and head back on the ferry.  That would have been a very long time on a droning ferry.

There were many places to stay in this little happening Hornopiren, but it was still early, and we headed back the way we came. I had seen one other cabana along the desolate road that looked 1000% better than last night, and, indeed, it was.

Those chairs are yellow leather.  It was spotless.  A lovely grandmother owned the property.  She had a lovely garden with fava beans, carrots, lavender, and rosemary.  Later she cooked us a wonderful supper of fish, chicken, fried slabs of potato, sliced tomatoes and carrots, and homemade bread.

Jim got to fire up his fishing rod and tried to lure a trout onto his hook in the river next to the cabana.  Alas, not even one trout leaped from its watery home, let alone onto Jim's hook.

The next morning we continued along the estuary on another gravel road with many blind curves.  The water to our left was continually dotted with salmon farms.  Sometimes they were in circles, other times in rectangles or long lines. Many people find these to be eyesores and say that the salmon are escaping and contaminating the native fish.

Our first detour was into the Valley of the Rio Cochamo.  It is an area of very little infrastructure, but it is considered an area equal to Yosemite because of the granite domes.  We could not drive very far before we needed to have a 4 x 4 vehicle.  Supposedly this is the valley where Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid had a hideout.

This is just like our Panoche road.

Leaving Cochamo, we were leaving Northern Patagonia and moving towards the Lake District of Chile.  At Ralun we could still see the glaciers as we searched for another hot springs along the Rio Petrohue.

To reach the hot springs, we had to cross the swift river.

For about $4 US we were ferried down and across the river.  Our pilot left us there for about an hour and a half.

These rustic pools were really just warm and filled with many local Chilean families.  Some women were smearing the warm mud onto their faces and bodies.  The river was a too cool place to rinse off the mud.

                                 February 1-2, 2013

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