With Patagonia behind us, we took our next steps north into Chile’s lake district and the town of Puerto Varas. Settled by Germans (pre-war Germans) along the shore of Lago Llanquihue, Puerto Varas is the first stop for those looking to explore some of Chile’s volcanos. Being the lake district the weather changes quite quickly and you have to be prepared for anything. During our stay we went from fantastic sun to a grey skied rain storm.
Walking Puerto Varas
First up on our itinerary, find the best location for a picture of the Iglesia del Sagrado Corazon de Jesus (Sacred Heart of Jesus Church). The shot has an impressive view of the church with Lago Llanquihue and Volcan Osorno behind. Looking for the perfect viewpoint gave us a great opportunity to explore the town. With Easter weekend having just passed, the local park was covered in melted candle wax. We even found a replica, full-sized, crucifix lying around!
It was this point when we picked up an overly affectionate dog, a quick shortcut through the hospital was enough to lose him and hunt for lunch. In town there are plenty of eating options from high-end hotels, to food trucks and local cafes. We settled on a falafel and a coffee from the trucks. Having read that there were more that twelve trucks all beside each, we were a little sad only find three, no idea if it was because the low season was starting or because of Easter. Off we went with our coffees and explored the shore of Lago Llanquihue and took a stroll along the promenade.
The little German town of Frutillar
Next up, a visit to the nearby town of Frutillar, 30 minutes from Puerto Varas. Another German settled town, this is the best place to taste the German influence and tuck into a Kuchen, German cake. The highlight of Frutillar however is the pier. Stretching out into the lake it offers another fantastic perspective of Volcan Osorno. Either side of the pier is much nicer beach than the one in Puerto Varas and had a couple of sunbathers lazing about.
Just outside of the centre is a small nature reserve set up by the University of Chile. Take a stole around the great example of Chile’s biological diversity. Definitely worth it while in town however, we wouldn’t go just for this.
A miserable weather and a dead town !
As mentioned already our visit coincided with Easter festivities and Puerto Varas was already dead. What we didn’t know was that Chile was holding a census on the Wednesday we were in town and required all businesses to close so that everyone would be at home for their census visit. The town literally became deserted. On top of this a storm came in and forced us to cancel our plans of hiking to Petrohue, along the side of the Osorno Volcano.
Because of the storm we were forced to look at our plans. Our next stop was meant to be the adventure town of Pucón, but the forecast there was for a lot of rain for a week. Almost all of the activities could be cancelled with rain so we decided to change or plans and cross the border to Argentina. Our next destination would be the Argentinian lake district and the towns of Bariloche and San Martin de los Andes.
Where we stayed in Puerto Varas
Compass del Sur. Overall it was pretty good. We stayed in the attic which caused many knocks on the head due to the low roof. Unfortunately we had the feeling that the hostel was more about making money than trying to help travelers, everything cost extra. The positive was that they made great brown bread and banana bread fresh each morning, but just didn’t give enough.
Cost and useful information
Exchange rate(average) : €1 = 714.20 CLP
Bus – Castro to Puerto Varas: 6,500 CLP (€9.10)
Bus – Puerto Varas to Frutillar: 2,400 CLP return (€3.35)
Hostel – Compass del Sur: 12,000 CLP pp/pn (€16.80)
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