Kat makes some friends
Chileans seem to have a morbid fascination for driving without their lights on in really crappy conditions. This has now happened all over the place and really makes overtaking in the rain/mist quite a daunting task. We decided to start off our drive to Pucon
(pronounced Poo-kon, not Puke-on), which is about 200km due north with a bit of a detour. We already knew that we wanted to take in some of the lakes in the region and that, in what seems to have become our standard routine, we would have to go 100km west before going 100km north to then go east again and then north. But before that we would start by going south. All sounds logical right? The trip south was actually just up the road, as behind the hotel is Antillanca which is a ski resort on Volcano Casa Blanca.
Pizza places in Pucon - cheesy
We thought it would be nice to go and have a look seeing as it was only 25km away. Famous last words. About 5km along, the dirt road started. 10km further, the ice started and about 1km further was snow. Not willing to risk polar bear (our car) this early in the day we decided that it would be safer and better to turn around and make our way towards Pucon. The drive took us through some nice scenery and we took in some of the Chilean 7 lakes drive. This is not as publicised, or organised, as the Argentinean one. It is a pity as the drive is very scenic. In Argentina they make more out of having viewpoints (“mirador”) and seem to make it easier for you and the lakes are prettier. That said, the mountain scenery in Chile is much more impressive. Lots of conically shaped volcanoes topped with snow make it quite special too. We stopped for lunch in a small town called Panguipulli after seeing some strange stuff. This area still has people who use ox drawn carts for hauling wood etc. Quite an eye opener. Conaripe (pronounced con-yah-repay) is a town along the dirt road on the way and to the south of Mt Villarrica while Pucon is to the north, so from there we had to go through the towns of Lican Ray
and Villarrica. Lican Ray has an interesting legend of a Mapuche Indian girl and Spanish guy who fled from her father and lived on various islands in the lake and were never seen again, apart from the smoke from their fires. At certain times of the year you are supposed to be able to see the smoke from their fires on some of the islands. We arrived in Pucon which is on the east of Lake Villarrica in time for sunset and in time to buy tickets to get us trekking up Villarrica. We were also greeted by perfect, clear weather which is always a worry when looking to go up a volcano….