Osorno Volcano; A close shave - Day 455
Today we took a trip to some lakes and the epic Osorno Volcano; a close shave, and I’m not talking about Tim’s chin!
As our night bus to Santiago wasn’t leaving until 8:45pm, we had the whole day free, so booked a tour to the iconic Osorno Volcano with a confirmation that we’d be back at 6:30pm, giving us plenty of time to retrieve our bags and get to the bus terminal. OK, as you can imagine, things don’t go to plan. But first, let me describe our day.
We got to the Tourist Board nice and early and was taken to outside a casino to wait for our bus. After 30-minutes waiting, Tim was phoning them just as a nice man called Jesus turned up to say that he had been waiting for us at the end of the street. We climbed onto the full bus to rows of people not looking best pleased. If only they knew.
We drove along the south bank of the Lake Llanquihue and after 30-minutes stopped off and all climbed into a little boat. Well, we weren’t expecting this. It was delightful. The vessel took us along a tunnel of overhanging trees to Laguna La Poza and immediately we were greeted by a Ringed Kingfisher with its grey back and brick orange front. Sadly it flew off before we could get a snapshot of it, but I did manage to capture a photo of a white heron. The lagoon was beautiful, surrounded by coniferous forest coating the mountains and in the centre was a small island called Isla Loreley, named by German settlers as it resembles a famous cliff on the River Rhine.
We carried on our journey and stopped again to walk down to Laguna Verde. Yes, the water really was green, and surprisingly clear; so much so that we could see a large Rainbow Trout lazily gliding through. As we waited for the bus, we also saw a Chimango Caracara Bird of Prey mother and her juvenile, who was very noisy.
The road then took us into Vicente Pérez Rosales National Park and on to the highlight of the day, Osorno volcano. We had a fabulous view of it with a line of white cloud at the base, but sadly the bus didn’t stop. When it did finally come to a halt, we were given only 90 minutes to get onto two chairlifts, walk up the scree side to the snow and down again. Just us and two young French ladies went up on the chairlifts, the others stayed down and went for a walk. Did they know something we didn’t? We only just made it back in time!
Both Tim and I commented on how peaceful it was on the chairlift. Perhaps it was the silence, a mere hum of the cable in the background. The mighty 2,652m stratovolcano in front of us with the black and red rock contrasting with the white of the snow is the most active of volcanos in the southern Chilean Andes, which is somewhat concerning as we were stuck on a chair lift. It has had 11 eruptions recorded, luckily the last one was in 1869 and luckily for us, no close shave here.
The panoramic views really were incredible, with a range of mountains to one side and Lake Llanquihue on the other side. We slowly climbed the steep volcanic gravel slope, sometimes it seemed as it was one step forward and two steps back. Finally reaching the glacier. I did try and throw a snowball at Tim, it was hard to dig out, probably because the ice is decades old. Tim decided to climb onto the glacier, having to find a useful technique to ascend rather than descend. His commando training in Norway came flooding back.
We ate our pack lunch on the chairlift down and then discovered that our next stop off was at a restaurant for an hour lunch break. Instead, we sat on the lakeside having a pleasant chat with a couple from Paris who are over visiting their son.
In the afternoon we were taken to another boat trip, an added paid extra; this time on a large boat sailing on a very windy Todos los Santos Lake and then onto another paid extra to see the waterfalls of the Petrohué River. By now, we were getting concerned about the time. The young French ladies had already left the bus to get back to Puerto Varas somehow as they had a coach to catch, and that alerted us that we also needed to get back. I asked our guide Jesus what time we would get back. About 8:30pm he replied. “Jesus! We’ve got a bus at 8:45pm.” I think he thought we were joking, then realised we weren’t. We explained that the Tourist Board said we’d be back for 6:30pm. He was not amused (nor were we). It seemed that this had happened before.
He informed everyone to be back on the bus for 7pm, and we walked down to see the waterfalls. I think that our concern about getting back marred our visit. It was incredible to see the narrow chute-like tunnel with the water gushing through with an average flow of 270 m3 per second. I can imagine that in the rainy season when the water rises by 3m, it is even more dramatic.
Thankfully everyone was back on the bus in good time, but we still had another 50km to drive and were told that we’d be hitting rush hour. Yes, we hit rush hour 5km outside of Puerto Varas. The time was ticking fast, it was gone 8pm. We still needed to walk back to our Airbnb, finish packing and get to the Bus Terminal. Luckily Jesus informed us that we’d been given the incorrect address from Busbud, who we booked our tickets through, but unluckily, it was further away.
We were dropped off about 500m from our abode, and my little legs ran all the way. I was very grateful for the small bit of Parkrun training I did in South Africa. We had already decided who would pack what, so in record time, we left the house and ran down to the correct Bus Terminal. Phew, we made it. Tim was so thirsty that he decided to go and buy some water. And you can imagine that I was concerned when the bus turned up and no Tim to be seen! My low blood pressure went up, my heart rate rose, and my already red face turned beetroot. Just as I was about to put both of our bags into the hold, Tim arrived, grinning and holding two cold bottles of water. Well, that certainly was a close shave!