|More awesome Waterfalls|
As the morning looked pleasant and sunny I took the mini bus to the Petrohue National Park near Volcan Orsorno. A charming schoolboy who sat next me shared his chips and carried on an animated conversation in Spanish. I couldn't understand much of what he said and he couldn't understand what I was saying either but we had a pleasant journey and the chips, delicately fried and topped with chilli, mustard and avocado dip, were probably the best I have ever tasted.
|My companion on the road|
Although we could see the volcano all the way until we got there, it abruptly vanished behind a cloud when I got off the bus but the waterfalls and the majestic lake and mountain scenery more made up for it. Though not very high, these waterfalls were very numerous and powerful.
|Volcan Orsorno visible from the bus|
|Feel the Power! Petrohue has dozens of waterfalls like this|
|And the setting amid mountains and rainforest is spectacular too|
By the time I got back to the hostel it was cold and overcast again, but the charming French girl who ran it made some pancakes with caramel (everything is with caramel in Chile - they have it like Nutella on their toast) and at five on the dot she peddalled off on her bike carrying a large guitar or cello on her back - very French. The service was very French too. After that we were left alone except for a very large dog which occupied one of the chairs and stared balefully at everyone as they came up the stairs. The telephone rang, people knocked at the door and the gas heaters went out (perhaps that's why we were treated to pancakes), but all to no avail.
Up to this point, I was still toying with the idea of going further south but as I froze even in my thermals, the idea quickly lost its appeal. Instead, I headed towards Frutillar which is notable for its German style architecture and cakes. In fact they have an annual Kuchen competition here and places have names like Salzburg Hotel, Austria and Frau Holle (Restaurant and B and B). I was very curious about this. Apparently around 6000 Germans settled in the region between 1846 and 1875, initially under a private scheme but then with government support as the country feared neo- imperialist claims by European powers in the post Spanish era. For their part, German immigrants were influenced by a series of Revolutions that began to rock Germany in 1848. Apart from their influence on the culture and cuisine, their most notable contribution appears to be the large Kunstmann brewery in Valdivia. My main interest however, was that the tourist brochures promised a view of not one but two volcanoes hovering over the lake. I sat by the lake for many hours waiting for the clouds to lift but once again Orsono remained elusive and so did its mate, presumably Volcan Cabulco.
|Waiting for the clouds to lift in Frutillar|
Another recommended spot for volcano lovers was near Temuco north of Pucon, on the way back towards Santiago which was starting to loom large on my horizon being my last stop before returning to Oz. This was almost a disaster as there were no hostels and I paid far too much for a bed in a draughty old hotel in a fairly depressing town. This didn't include breakfast and the shower was cold too though the landlady was quite nice. "Frozen pipes," she told me with a smile and did bring me hot water for my coffee. With that I headed off to Parque Nacional Conguillio about 80 Km east. This being the off season much of the park was closed and I only glimpsed the volcano in the distance before catching the bus again.
|The last Volcano -Volcan Llaima 3125m seen from Mellipeuco|
|I never did find out whether the wattle trees were imported or native to Chile also|