Feeling a little groggy from the Kunstman, forced myself up to get the bus to the close by Parque Nacional Huequehue for my own little ramble into the countryside. Weather fantastic and set for a scorcher by the time I got to the park entrance at 10. Ranger easily talked me out of the hike that Aguaventura had recommended to climb to the top of the mountains for the best views over the lakes as feeling physically fatigued already. Instead set off on a 4 hour hike (with an optional 3 extra) over flatter terrain around several lakes in the park. Gorgeous countryside walking through wooded paths made predominantly of tree roots and fallen branches. Had pretty much the whole place to myself. Passed a couple of lovely camp sites on the edge of one of the lakes before the path took a sudden ascent up one of the hills.
Struggling up in the heat of late morning, rather appreciative that the ranger talked me out of the harder walk. However walk was fully justified by stunning view of lake in foreground, with the smoking Volcan Villarica in the background. 2 minor detours off the path led to a couple of stunning waterfalls. After a couple of hours, started talking to the 4 people I´d seen a couple of times as the only other walkers there - 2 locals, an America and a German. Walked around the remainder of the full circuit with them and somehow managed to turn our 7 hour walk into a 9 hour trek. Just made it back in time for the last bus, but ended up getting a lift back in Maca´s car. Already 2 hours late to meet the lads, ended up going to the beach with Shani, Maca and Kote for a quick dip to cool down after a scorching day.
Saw the lads who had already eaten so went out for meal with Shani. Treated ourselves to a restaurant recommended by Kote and Maca. A little more expensive than usual but the steak in roquefort sauce goes down as the juiciest, most tender and tastiest steak Ive ever had. Shani incredible life story as born in Israel to British parents, went to bording school in England and Switzerland before doing her national service in Israel for 3 years. Moved to New York and then LA and now works as a musical composer for Hollywoods biggest film composer. Chris up for a night out so joined us afterwards and hit the bars. I kept him company until 3.30 before leaving him in the capable hands of a Norwegian he´d met.
Needing a day of rest and the weather getting still hotter and we unanimously agreed to have a chill out day on the beach.
Worked out well as not feeling great after lack of sleep. Joel and Paul had done Chris and I proud and bought breakfast of fruit with muesli and vanilla yoghurt which went some way to making us feel better. Picked a spot on the beach and settled down to top up the tan. Not a cloud in the sky and the surrounding views of Pucon
close to perfection with lake in front, the lovely wooden shops in the streets and Volcan Villarica in the distance. Had a few hours on the beach before starting to feel the burn (even after factor 15 had been applied) and decided to have a dip in the cold lake and find the shade. The evening saw the departure of Paul to return to Santiago
before getting a flight to Buenos Aires and home.
Joel, Chris and I saw him off before getting a late dinner and a quiet evening ready for our departure to Puerto Montt
early next morning.
After a slow uncertain beginning, Pucon has become my favourite place in South America and on a par with Sydney and Barcelona. However, 4 days being the longest I´d stayed anywhere, it was still time to move on.