Cycling above the Clouds

Riding the Andes by Bicycle

Volcano hunting around Lago Llanquihue

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Returning to the mainland after our visit to Chiloé, we now made our way back to Puerto Varas in the Los Lagos region. I’d found a cheapish hostal when I’d visited a few days earlier, just a couple of blocks round the corner from the hotel where mum and dad would be staying. My hostal had a garage so I’d been able to leave the bike there with peace of mind whilst we went off our on road trip. My room there was a little damp though, so it was very nice to be able to take our afternoon breaks at mum and dad’s much nicer hotel (who kept us plied with cups of tea:).

The weather was a little better this time round and we set off eastwards round Lago Llanquihue to hunt out the best views we could find of the volcanoes.

Famille Brindley: at a mirador in front of Volcan Osorno. Mum and I looking very colour-coordinated.

Taking a small side road, we managed to get some good views of both volcanoes:

Volcan Calbuco on our right

Volcan Osorno on our left

Los Saltos del Petrohué

Continuing round to the far side of the lake, we arrived at the start of the Parque Nacional Vicente Perez Rosales, a national park which the river Rio Petrohué runs through, taking the waters from Lago Todo Los Santos down to the sea. It was a bit of a swizz for the entry fee, but we’d heard that the views of the rapids along the river were superb.

The frothy rapids on Rio Petrohué with Osorno in the background

The rapids have cut deep tunnel channels through the black volcanic rock. This canyon valley was originally carved out by lava flows which you can see running down the mountain to either side of the road.

Hats off to two of my favourite people enjoying a spot of sunshine:) !

There are a number of short trails through the park leading past more waterfalls and rapids

Rio Petrohué

An Andean fox sizing us up from the side of the road

The tranquil volcanic sand shores of Lago Todo Los Santos further upstream

We decided to drive further and follow the river all the way to the sea, at the small village of Cochamó. Dad wasn’t too impressed when the last section of road turned to gravel, but we did at least have fun sending cheery beeps out to a couple of cycle tourers we saw making their way along the road.

We saw this beautiful shingle church in Cochamó with yet more volcanoes in the background. It didn’t look all that special from the outside…

… but was beautifully decorated inside, and had a lovely warm community feel with lots of art works from the kids on the walls (and those little stars painted on the ceiling:)

We were impressed by these guys reeling in their fishing nets on pretty choppy water whilst still standing up in their boat – never seen it done this way before!

Heading back to Frutillar

The following morning we awoke to a rainbow out over the Lake. Today we headed back to Frutillar, and back down the beautiful pastoral roads I’d cycled along a few days earlier. We made a visit to the German museum, which gave a really great insight into how the first German settlers gradually built their life here a couple of hundred years earlier (see my previous post about Frutillar).

One interesting fact – Chile has a large fire service run by volunteers. People are very proud to work as a ‘bombero’. If you look inside fire stations, you’ll also see the fire engines are usually all different, having been donated to Chile by various other countries. This tradition of volunteering for Los Bomberos was apparently originally brought to Chile by the German settlers, who recognised the need for an efficient fire service given all their buildings were made of wood.

On the steps of a reconstructed German settler house with Dad. My parents brought a pair of jeans and trainers for me to wear whilst they were over. It was soooo nice to have some different clothes (and shoes that don’t smell!) for a change.

The museum also has some beautiful gardens

Ibex birds along the lake shore

The theatre in Frutillar had this cool little musical instrument Christmas tree decorations for sale. They even had a bassoon!

Back in Puerto Varas we had one last day to chill out and just spend together before Mum and Dad headed over to Bariloche in Argentina for the final few days of their holiday. Sadly the weather had returned to being grey and drizzly but when you live in the Buxton (yes, where the water comes from!), you don’t ever let that put you off! So, we strode out to do a historic city walk of Puerto Varas to see more of the old wooden houses, before settling down for our final supper.

Old wooden houses in Puerto Varas. Some have since been covered in corrugated iron sheeting, but others have endured in wood. Many of these now survive as hostals and guest houses.

One great tradition that this part of Chile has kept from its German heritage is the cake which lines the shop windows in Puerto Varas. A real treat for a hungry cyclist.

One final job to do before Mum and Dad head off – exchange the replacement kit they brought out for me. This was a super duper treat (even more than cake!) as an opportunity to re-stock on a few things that had started falling apart. My poor parents had had to lug this stuff around with them (along with my spare clothes which they also had to take back again) for all of their trip. Thanks Mum & Dad:).

Kit re-stock

The new kit I needed for those of you interested in this kind of thing:

– Maps for the next set of countries

– Good quality replacement chain for the bike (the one I bought in Mendoza started rusting pretty quickly)

– Replacement cleats for my shoes – after walking around in my touring shoes so much, the head of the bolts that attach the cleats to my shoes are starting to wear down and I thought it wouldn’t be too long before I lost one

– New good quality chain lube

– Some new screws for my fuel bottle holder (to replace one that had fallen out on the road earlier, and to keep another as a spare)

– Replacement nose-grips for my Oakley sun glasses (one had fallen off)

– Replacement collapsible mug – mine had grown a tear and now leaks

– 2nd pair of woolly socks ready for Patagonia

– 2 tubs of all important botty butter (chamois cream) to keep the saddle sores at bay

– A Hope & Homes t-shirt so I could send them some photos for my fund raising (see ‘Donate’ link above;)

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