Early morning in Puerto Montt was anything but promising with clouds so low we appeared to be surrounded by fog. Perhaps not the best day to be taking a trip up a volcano, scrambling around waterfalls and visiting a lake. Fortunately, the forecast promised better things by mid morning.
On the basis that we were probably going to get wet around water falls anyway, this was the first stop. I couldn’t work out whether it really was raining or whether it was the spray from the cascading water.
Whatever…it was wet! Huge volumes of icy water hit rocks and boulders all around us and fell into deep green pools. Power boats took those who wanted to get seriously wet right up to the cascades, and whilst it looked fun it is slightly less fun sitting in wet clothes for the rest of the day.
Although the falls were not necessarily high, they were impressive and spray was everywhere so, when the sun shines, there are rainbows all over the place – but only one today.
Then it was off up the Osorno Volcano. Where’s the volcano? It’s that huge glacier topped mountain which is tucked behind the clouds. The coach suddenly lurched steeply upwards and continued to climb through lush vegetation.
There was a huge lake at the bottom, allegedly, and snow and ice at the top. All I knew was that we had now come out of the forested area onto rocky slopes and were negotiating 42 hairpin bends along the incessant climb. The coach had to stop for 10 minutes to cool the engine whilst we were shown a crater on the side of the mountain.
This crater looked like a big hole to me but there was no way of seeing how deep it went. The coach set off again and chugged reluctantly upwards. The only coaches that can make it up there are the ones with engines in the front. Rear engines weight down the back ends and are too dangerous. And this wasn’t?
Finally at the top we found how true it was that it would be cold and windy. But suddenly the wind began to move the clouds to reveal the snow and ice capped volcano in all its majesty. Wow. We were up above the clouds and immediately in bright, bright sunlight which glared off the snow capped peak. This was really special and we were promised excellent photo opportunities on the way down. The 42 hairpin bends going down the mountain became 42 very hairy hairpin bends and it was obvious why the trip was not suitable for anyone troubled by heights or motion sickness. I just couldn’t get ‘The Italian Job’ out of my mind and was thankful to be sitting towards the front!!
Down, down to the lake and the views were indeed stunning as the clouds parted for us. The lake appeared to reveal wonderful lakeside farms. We had lunch at one and were visited by llamas, emus and various animals who were keen to see such strange creatures walk amongst them. Having had my head pecked by an emu in New Zealand, I was giving them a wide berth. Then it was on to one of the small lakeside towns (this one a German town created by original German settlers).
It was strangely reminiscent of Bowness in the Lake District but here the children paddled in the water from strange, black volcanic sand. We were back in time for the final tender to the ship and after only being on board for about 15 minutes we are already on our way.
It’s a sea day tomorrow and time to catch our breath after a very long day out. Then its Valparaiso and Santiago on Sunday, where it promises to be even warmer than today’s very pleasant 20C.