Lakes, Volcanoes and Islands around Puerto Montt

Sunday 21 to Wednesday 24 January

We flew out of Santiago to Peurto Montt which is the main city of the Lake District and sits nearly half way between Santiago and the southern city of Punta  Arenas. We hired a car and made a couple of excursions.

In the afternoon we drove out of town and about 40km around the bay to Richiquillaipe. There were a lot of holiday dwellings by the water.

We wandered into town and found the shopping mall for some basic necessities and then we enjoyed a magical sunset at Club de Yates, a restaurant over the water of the Reloncaví Sound.

Our hotel was close to the water and we had a great view of the volcanoes to the east. A cruise ship arrived on our second day – it seemed to dwarf the bay.  Small tenders took passengers to the port.

Our first excursion was to see Lake Llanquihue, which originated from a glacier. This was an area popular for German settlers, who created an agricultural zone. The architecture is very German and many establishments offer küchen. The lake was beautiful and we made many stops to capture the volcanos and mountains that sat around it’s rim, adding to its charm.

We drove up to the Osorno Volcano and then took a short chair lift. The altitude was only 1184m and not at all taxing. Osorno Volcano is beautifully shaped and topped by snow/ice/glaciers. We climbed to the side of the caldera and got some magnificent views into the valley and the the Calbuco Volcano.

We continued around to Vicente Pérez National Park to see the Lake Todos los Santos at Petrohué. This lake joins the road to Argentina. You would need to take a car ferry along the length of the lake before crossing the border.

As we found is typical along the Andes, a wind blew up in the afternoon that was very strong and unpleasant on the shore, but a young lad was making the most of it on his wind surfer.

We travelled south west in our second day to Chacao, crossing the Chacao canel by ferry to Chiloé Island. Like the Isle of Wight, the 35 minute ride was expensive. A bridge is planned to be completed in August 2019, but barely looks started. Perhaps the ferry operation is too lucrative.

We stopped at Ancud for a coffee. There was a small square, typically called Plaza de Armas (which is where the Spanish soldiers would parade).

From there we drove on to Point Almenao and the islands of Puñihuil to see where Magallen and Humboldt penguins roost side by side. It is the furthest north that Magallen penguins travel and the furthest south that Humboldt penguins travel, a rather unique spot. The rocky islands are home to a variety of birds and a few South American seals.

Information I had about this tour was that English guides were available. That didn’t happen for us – all the information given was in Spanish, which was frustratingly disappointing.

The boats for the tours run off the beach as there are no jetties, instead a platform on wheels is dragged out to the boat by three or four men, so you can embark and disembark with dry feet.

We were told that the locals have formed a cooperative so as each boat is filled it takes the 30 minute tour. It certainly was a slick operation.

We had enough time when we returned to Puerto Montt to wander along the seafront where we found a lighthouse and a monument commemorating the 150th anniversary of German settlers.