Lakes crossing to Chile

Puerto Blest Travel Blog

 › entry 19 of 72 › view all entries
Hotel Puerto Blest. And nothing else

For our passage to Chile we decided on the Lakes Crossing route, which is pretty pricey, but we thought it would be more scenic than the bus.

 

The bus takes about 5 hours to go over the Andes from Bariloche to Puerto Montt (including clearing customs). The lakes crossing takes 2 days (in winter, and a 1 day option available in summer) and involves boat trips across 3 lakes and 3 bus trips in between, with a night spent either in Puerto Blest (Argentina) or Peulla (Chile, pronounced Peh-oo-yah (the Peulla bit, not Chile)). The guidebooks don’t mention the option of staying in Puerto Blest, so we thought we would give it a bash.

Water can like to flow downhill

 

While booking, the travel agency guy could not speak English, so again, another educational experience. As far as we could work out we were staying in Puerto Blest, but did not know what hotel etc – but hey, we would figure it out along the way.

 

At 8:30 (half an hour late which caused a little concern again due to the language question) the bus arrived to collect us for the trip to the boat. The next people to board were an Australian couple who had been on the Estancia Christina outing with us in El Calafate. Small world. In between they had been to Buenos Aires and Iguazu.

 

The boat trip took an hour to get to Puerto Blest with rambling Spanish over the intercom the whole way.

Kat`s first phoon on film
The boat trip is combined with the day trip to Puerto Blest (which all the guidebooks recommend as a trip and we figured we could kill 2 birds with one stone anyway). You arrive in a little bay and are confronted by a quaint little hotel overlooking the bay. That, as we discovered, was the extent of Puerto Blest. No more questions about which hotel we were staying at (or for that matter, which restaurant we would be having our meals at).

 

We dropped our stuff, after checking in, and had a bite to eat. If we were on the day trip we would not have been too impressed as they basically herd you into a little park information centre and then the restaurant at the hotel and force you to choose from a set menu before the rest of the day’s activities will go on.

 

We decided to avoid the rest of the “guided” tour and go off for a walk to the waterfall (cascada los cantaros) which is the local attraction that the bus tour people get to later.

Wished we had some books to chill here
As a result we had a nice relaxed walk through the forest (past some random signs – refer picture) up to the waterfall and to a peaceful little lake (lago los cantaros). The waterfall is quite pretty but not impressive in “big” way. The falls are about 45m in total which are split into about 4 or 5 separate falls. Still, a nice walk and again we were lucky with the weather and the sun was out. The guidebooks (and the guide) say that it always rains in Puerto Blest.

 

When we were walking back along the lake beach the bus our group started arriving and heading towards the falls so we were glad we had managed to avoid them – anyway, we will see the rest when we continue tomorrow.

 

The evening had a bit of a “end of the world” feel again, where it was us and 4 other guests in the hotel in total. We were waiting for supper (and it does get pitch black here as you can imagine) and had to wait for them to open the dining room – at 8:30??? Who knows.

The short walk to freedom
All rather surreal. Anyway, then they gave us a fixed 3 course meal with no choices (and we have not even got to the German sections yet) of crepe with stir fried vegetables, beef loin steak and fruit salad. By the time we got half way through the second course we were both stuffed. They also called the crepe an omelette which confused one issue.

 

I know everyone raves about Argentinian steaks, but I must say I have not been impressed. The quality of the meat is good and it is lean, but there is not much in the way of flavour. Anyway, I will persevere to find the right steak to go with the bottles of wine…

 

At the end of our dinner they gave us a complementary bottle of something called cruzdiablo which is a semi sparkling sweet wine. Not too bad surprisingly. And very nice of them too. When we chatted to the Aussie couple who stayed in Peulla they said their meal was awful and they also had to wait until after 8 before anything opened.

Cruise ship of Puerto Blest

 

As Kat and I had picked up mild colds we decided not to go for a hike in the morning and instead spent the time chilling. Good thing too, as the guide had told us we would continue at 1:15, when they in fact get us to leave the hotel before 11 the next day to take a bus.

 

The bus took us to Puerto Frias which is another little lake, which is an unbelievable milky lime green colour. Where do they come up with this stuff? If you went to Disney World and they had half the thing we have seen on this trip you would not believe it.

 

A short hop boat trip from there and then through Argentine customs before another bus trip up from 700m to 970m at the top of the Andes and the border of Chile (together with the 1 hour time change) and then down to 150m at Peulla.

Spiderman caught
Very cool drive too. Dirt tracks in a bus on a mountain pass is always entertaining. This was through jungle which is similar to parts of Alaska and Tasmania – ie not exactly tropical, but it thinks it is.

 

We arrived in Peulla in time for a bit to eat (surprise) before taking the (1hr 45min) boat trip across the lake to Petrohue (2nd last stop). The difference in cost is evident when you go from Argentina to Chile – beer is about 1.5 to 2 times the price!!! The exchange rate gets a bit simpler to calculate however as it is about CH$(peso)1,000 = £1.  US Dollars are accepted pretty much anywhere too.

 

The view on the boat trip is again impressive with great views of mountains, waterfalls and Mt Osorno volcano, which is at the end of the trip.

No squeezing lemons in the forest
Then, back onto a bus for a short hop to a forced tourist adventure – sight of the Petrohue waterfall where you are forced to pay for the pleasure. Hmmm.

 

On then to the next adventure, for us to find a place to stay in Puerto Varas. As with the rest of our tour, we have not booked accommodation anywhere – just arrive and find, which always brings a sense of excitement to the arrival section.

 

Those of you who know my fetish for sunset photos will be happy to note that we were stuck on a bus for the period of sunset over the lake with the volcano in the background as I would probably have subjected you to another 500 odd shots of the same sunset.

 

Well, asked the bus driver for a recommendation and ended up with a pretty nice spot – Gran Reserva Hotel which looks out over the bay from Mirador street, which means viewpoint. Went for a quick “little” bite at a place called Donde es Gordito (where is the man) and had out first Pisco Sour – Chile’s national drink as far as I can gather. Very nice and refreshing. The town feels like a bit of a ghost town. Not much going on this time of year I suppose.  

 

Overall the lakes crossing is impressive, but I think the one day option would be plenty. On the 2 day they just make you wait for a day in an isolated hotel. The views make it worthwhile though.
Join TravBuddy to leave comments, meet new friends and share travel tips!
Hotel Puerto Blest. And nothing el…
Hotel Puerto Blest. And nothing e…
Water can like to flow downhill
Water can like to flow downhill
Kat`s first phoon on film
Kat`s first phoon on film
Wished we had some books to chill …
Wished we had some books to chill…
The short walk to freedom
The short walk to freedom
Cruise ship of Puerto Blest
Cruise ship of Puerto Blest
Spiderman caught
Spiderman caught
No squeezing lemons in the forest
No squeezing lemons in the forest
Puerto Blest
photo by: bramwan