Wednesday, December 31, 2003

Gosh hasn`t the year gone quickly! Its Dad`s Birthday today and we`re off to a tiny little place called Tortel - the road to it was only built last year and before that you had to take a boat to get to it! The last few days down the carratera austral have been excellent - the weather has been superb and we have seen so many things. Yesterday we went up to National Reserve Tamango to try and find some huemels (a deer on the chilean national coat of arms). They tend to go higher into the mountains during the summer so I really wasn`t expecting to see any but there one was stood in the middle of the path!! Really fabulous!! The walk we took was really brillant in another way too - we saw 7 (!) different types of orchids including the magellanic orchid!

After Tortel we return to Terra Luna lodge on Lake General Carrerra where we spent a couple of days. From there we took a tiny plane over the mountains to the San Raphael glacier. A white knuckle ride to say the least! The glacier was spectacular though and we landed nearby for a little boat ride through the iceberg filled bay. Another plane flew over the glacier while we were there and it was amazing to see just how big the glacier was. The six seat plane looked like a mosiquito above the ice!!

Have a wonderful celebration tonight

Friday, December 19, 2003

Merry Christmas to you all and a Happy New Year!

I know for some of you this will be the last day at work for a little while so I hope you have a very happy few days off and enjoy spending time with your families.

I have now arrived in Puerto Montt after a six hour bus ride from Temuco. The bus called at lots of tiny towns on the panamerican highway on the way, which is why it took so long to travel the 300km. Puerto Montt is very lively and bustling with folk. Today is the day the ferry sails to Puerto Natales in the south so there´s a big ship anchored in the port. The city seems by far the biggest I have been to and much more busy than Temuco. Everywhere seems to have gone Christmas mad over the last few days and there are lots of trees decorated in the plaza and Christmas music playing in the shops. Interstingly, all the firemen seem to be out in the pedestrianized streets - I´ve no idea why!

I have found myself a very nice Hostal but they have a wedding on at the weekend so I shall have to find myself another place on Saturday. Then on Monday its off to the airport and then Puerto Varas once more. I hope the sun will shine and Mum, Dad and Dougal will get to see the volcanoes over lago Llanquihue. Our holiday will then take us down the carratera Austral - one of the remotest roads and regions in Chile. There´ll be lots of glaciers to see and I hope lots of wildlife too!

PS I have changed my return date so that I will get back home in the middle of January. I have had a brilliant adventure here in Chile. It might not have been the one I had planned but I have seen so many wonderful things and met some very interesting people too.

angelmo market, purto montt Posted by Hello

Monday, December 15, 2003

After my message first thing this morning I had to dash off to get the car. I was taking a couple of the lads I had met in the hostel last night for a trip to Petrohue in the Vincent Perez Rosales National Park. We all had a huge breakfast of scarmbled eggs and dived into the car. Only it wouldn´t start! The battery was completely flat, I had left the lights on overnight (no useful tecno thing that bleeped at me!). Luckily we were opposite a petrol station and we pushed the car into there. And then the attendent proceded to remove my battery replace it with another and start the car and then replace mine while it was running!!!!!

Luckily all went well after that and I drove down to the park with no further problems. The sun stayed out and I got to see the whole of Volcans Osorno and Calbuco! Fabulous sight - lots of snow and craggy bits! The waterfalls down at Petrohue were brilliant - flowing over a lava bed. The lake was also very pretty (Todos Los Santos) and we took a hike up one of the short trails - not very well signed and ended walking back down the shore and across some private property! No problems though. The park was so pretty in the sunshine I really wished I was on Toulouse but after my walk on Chiloe the knee has been sore again so I think its better that he stays at the hostel!

petrohue and volcan orsorno
Posted by Hello

I'm glad to see that you got both my emails from Chonchi. The computer was an old 166 and kept hanging when I tried to send anything. I had a lovely few days there and went out to the National Park. No sundews but I discovered the Tepual forest which was very magical, mostly tepu trees which are very twisty with lots of moss and ferns.

I drove up the coast of Chiloe yesterday and through the Dalcahue Sunday market where the craftswomen were making and selling baskets and woolly things (jumpers hats scarves etc). Over to the mainland on the ferry I saw more penguins and pelicans.

The rain lashed down and I was very glad to arrive here in Puerto Varas and get into to a nice warm hostel. The Chileans don't seem so keen on heating so it was good to find somewhere with a fire on! This morning the sun is out and though I can't see the two volcanoes over the lake I think it will stay good for a few hours. I shall be back in Puerto varas with Mum, Dad and Dougal in a weeks time!

basket weaver, dalcahue market Posted by Hello

Friday, December 12, 2003

I have had a brilliant couple of days. Yesterday I went out to visit the penguin colony near Ancud. And although I couldn{t get out to the colony on a boat as the sea was too rough I could just see the tiny little magellanic and Humbolt penguins through my binos. I met up with 8 Israelis and have bumped into them several times now! Chiloe really is quite small. After the penguins I took a drive down the coast - the mar Brava the wild sea. Really quite specatcular.

Today I drove down to Chonchi - the road was being resurfaced and had my scariest drive in the mud behind a Shell tanker! Lots of mud and not much movement and strange noises from the wheels but it turned out just to be more mud in the arches! Phew!!! I{m staying at Esmerald by the sea, a wee hostelry owned by a Canadian. I have just had mussels and salmon from Carl{s farm for tea!! Fab! I will try to go over to the west coast tomorrow to visit the national park. I{m still keeping my eyes peeled for some sundews. Maybe there{ll be some in the Cordillera on the way across.

penguin colony, ancud Posted by Hello

Tuesday, December 09, 2003

Once more I find an internet cafe! I have just spent three days in the Puyehue national park. I found lots of good walks to do and even went swimming in the thermal pools! Loads of wildlife too - lots of humming birds. I now know what fuschias are really for! The little humming birds feed from them - though they´re like trees here!

I also managed to get chatted up by a ´military geologist´ (just a soldier to you and me!) in the termas and once he got to the "you have beautiful eyes" I made a swift exit explaining that I don´t drink beer and I wouldn´t like to see him later!!! Pleasant enough guy but we shan´t be going there!!!!!!

However, the weather hasn´t been great and there has been no spotting of volcanoes due to the persistent cloud. So I have come to Chiloe - an island south of the lake district as there is lots of wildlife and no volcanoes to see! The ferry ride alone was worth it - dolphins, huge seals, pelicans, penguins, cormorants and more! Just in 45min!! I shall go in hunt of more penguins tomorrow and have a drive along the coast before going futher south. The island was separated from the mainland by more than water for a long time so they have their own unique way of doing things here! Hope to stay for the rest of the week before heading back to the mainland.

parque national puyehue Posted by Hello

Thursday, December 04, 2003

Yesterday I drove from Pucon over to the waterfalls at Huilo Huilo (weelo weelo) along some of the worst roads I have seen yet - lots of obstacles to swerve road in 1st gear!! It would have been one of the roads I should have cycled and I think that it would have been easier on T! The waterfall was really impressive - in fact there were two and I had them all to myself! Great torrents of water being squeezed through tiny holes so there was lots of noisy and spray.

I´m now staying in Airesbuenos hostel in Valdivia. They have an orchestra staying so had no rooms left. They rang several other places for me too but still no luck . Eventually I got the ´dungeon´in the cellar - it has no windows but the bed is very comfy!!! The weather has broken and it is decidedly chilly and wet! My forehead is peeling where I got sunburnt in Conguillio!

Tuesday, December 02, 2003

So I have spent the last two days here in Pucon. Yesterday after emailing you all I checked into Ecole! and I´m sharing a room with a lass from Belgium. Luckily she had to be up early in the morning so wasn´t too late to bed!!

Anyway, I decided to take Toulouse for a potter up to the caves on Volcan Villarrica. I just took my camera, waterproofs and some spares - so just the one bag!! It was uphill all the way about 15km on a dirt track - lots of pushing especially when I got to the lava field and the track became ankle deep in soft sand!! But had a good run - there were orchids growing by the side of the road and I got to see the smaller of Chile´s two woodpeckers, along with a tiny bird that was feeding chicks in a tree hole! The caves were very good - I was part of a party of 7 and the whole tour was in Spanish but pyroclastic is the same in any language!! The most interesting bit was the ´chocolate lava´on the walls!!!! I think the coming down the mountain was more scary - definitely scarrier than cycling down Whistler as there was no grass to fall onto!!!

Today I took T out to the Ojos de Carburga as recommended by the tourist office if I had a bike. They are a pair of waterfalls that torrent down into a bowl of brilliant blue water. I nearly missed them though because I only saw the sign after I had gone by!!! The road was a very rippled dirt track again and now have two sore knees and sore shoulders from all the pushing!! I think I shall have to take a few days off the cycling. But my best spot of the day was a pair of torrent ducks and a chick!! I was really hoping to see these on my trip and can´t quite believe it. I had my first empenada of the hols for lunch - very yummy and just what hungry cyclists need!

Total distance cyclced about 150km - not bad really (thats not just these last two days by the way!).

Monday, December 01, 2003

I have had to change my plans. On my first day out to Carahue I did both my left knee and my back in and so had to get the bus back to Temuco. I was rather dissappointed to say the least. But I went back to Juanita´s and with her help have hired a car. My back is OK now but my knee is still a bit sore. I think I just have too much stuff. If I could leave all the camping gear somewhere then I think that I might be OK. But then I´d have nowhere to sleep!!

Despits all this I´m having a nice time. I went back to the coast on Saturday with my little Hyundi Atoz and rallied around the rather awful roads!! I saw quite a few birds including a flock of purplish ibis and lots of multi-coloured ibis. And of course the speciality of the area – the black necked swan. Yesterday I went up tpo Parque National Conguillio (one of the last place I wanted to go to on the original route – off to the east in the mountains). The day was blisteringly hot and despite my suncream I have a very red nose today! I pottered round a couple of the lakes and saw some red gartered coots and chiloe widgeon. There were even orchids growing in the lava fields. I stopped for lunch in the cafe down by Lago Conguillio and met an american lad having a weekend off from building a church just down the road. It was good to have a chat and he recommended I take a boat across the lake to see the waterfall. So I did just that- I had two rowers: Alvaro and Sebastien. The waterfall was magnificanet with lots of gunnera growing in the spray. In Praise of Plants here we come!!

Today I have driven down to Pucon – which I am prepared to dislike as it is very touristy and the hostel I have checked into seems to be full of back packers but it was recommended by so many people in Temuco that I thought I´d give it a go. I plan to take Toulouse with just the back panniers up to Carburga and to the volcanic tubes (blue clay!!) on Villarrica. There is quite a lot of low cloud so I haven´t seen the volcano yet but may be it will lift later this afternoon.