Along the waterfront in Puerto Varas
Torrential rains had hampered our tour of this area a few days earlier, when our ship stopped in nearby Puerto Montt. Located on Lake Llanquihue, this town has a spectacular waterfront, with the Osorno volcano displayed on the opposite shore, and the Calbuco and Tranador volcanoes visible in the distance. During the mid 19th century, German immigrants were given plots of land, cows and sheep, and building materials for their homes. The colonization of the region was an effort by the Chilean authorities to secure the lands from being taken over by Argentina. The German influence continues to be reflected in the area by the architecture and food, (kuchen and sausage are widely available). Spanish is the primary language, followed by Mapudungun (language of the indigenous Mapuche), and then German.
After checking into to our B & B, we drove off to explore the nearby town of Frutillar. Described in our Lonely Planet guide as "enchanting and quaint", to us, it felt crowded and touristy. A new, world-class theater is located along the lake's edge, and numerous restaurants and souvenir shops are on the opposite side of the street. Frutillar has been discovered, and there is no turning back.
Next, we discovered the working-class community of Llanquihue. Dozens of carved sculptures are sprinkled throughout the town, created primarily during international sculptors encounters, which have taken place in the community for many years. Native wood, including cypress, are used to create the works. With the same stunning waterfront offered by Puerta Varas and Frutillar, this is probably a good place to buy property for a long-term investment. It won't be long before this area is added to the itinerary for the tour buses.
The return to Puerto Varas was precipitated by Alan's desire to go fly fishing on the rivers of Patagonia. With a limited time-frame we were only able to squeeze in one outing, but we maxed out the day. Starting at 9 AM, we were picked up by our guide, Jack Trout. Though Jack usually prefers to do his float trips along the Petrohue River, ash from the Villarrica eruption had clouded the waters. Instead, we traveled along dusty, back-country roads to a ranch owned by an affiliate, where we accessed the Rio Maullin.
To say Jack is passionate about fishing would be an understatement. He is also a consummate merchandiser, snapping photos throughout the trip to share with his clients, after the trip, as well as with his facebook and blog followers. Loading all the gear into the small boat, we headed out. Since I'm a novice to fly fishing, Jack explained the basics, and then reinforced them over and over again. He also entertained us with stories on the history and politics of Chile. Luck was with me, and over the duration of the trip, I had numerous fish on the line, 2 reeled in, and the requisite "big one that got away". Alan was not quite as lucky, but Jack worked hard, changing his flies frequently, to insure he would not leave the trip skunked. Success came in the form of a nice rainbow trout.
Stopping several hours into the trip, we enjoyed a salad, followed by a spiced chicken and potato stew prepared by Jack's wife, Carola. Dessert came in the form of wild blackberries picked along the shore. Out on the water until around 7PM, it had been a full day, and we were exhausted. Starting as a chilly, foggy morning, the day turned into cloudless perfection, with temperatures in the 70's. Native birds created a symphony of sound for the duration of the trip along the rushing waterway. It was a perfect trip in every way.
Next, we are driving back to Temuco, and flying into Santiago. Our trip is quickly coming to a close.
Theater on the waterfront in Frutillar
Waterfront in Llanquilhue
One of the dozens of sculptures in Llanquihue
Preparing to go out on the Rio Maullin
|Reeling in my first catch|
Alan poised to catch a big one
Church of the Sacred Heart of Jesus in Puerto Varas reflects the city's German heritage