Upon arrival at Puerto Montt Airport and picking up our rental car, we’ve officially entered Patagonia. Our third time there, how exciting! This time we’re going to explore northern Patagonia, also known as the Lake Districts in both Argentina and Chile. We’re expecting to see volcanoes, waterfalls and lush green forests. The first part of our journey takes us to the gates of Vicente Perez Rosales National Park and it’s most famous sight: the Petrohue Falls.
In our white pickup we leave Puerto Montt behind, time to get roadtrippin’! Unfortunately, within 10 minutes we are in the middle of a traffic jam. Turns out that a furniture shop has a sale going on where each person living in the area wants to go to. We realize we should have taken the Panamericana but we thought it would be nice to take a smaller route. Just our luck.
Eventually after an hour we reach the town of Puerto Varas, beautifully located on the shores of Lago Llanquihue (“Lago Yankee Way”). Normally, when the weather is good, you should be able to see Osorno volcano in the distance. But today, it’s cloudy and there’s nothing to be seen. So we continue our journey to the east, along the shores of the lake. While spatters of rain end up on our windshield we are amazed by the green landscapes. Everywhere you look, it’s lush and green. Must have something to do with the shitloads of rain they are getting here…
After a quick lunch in the town of Ensanada it’s time to continue to Vicente Perez Rosales National Park and its famous Petrohue Falls. We’ve heard various stories about them, some say they are gorgeous and some say it’s simply disappointing. Just after entering the national park, the road turns into an unpaved one and we see the parking lot at the falls. Somehow, we drive past them and since the weather isn’t too good, decide to come back later. However about 5 minutes further up the road leading to the small settlement of Petrohue we get the first real views of the Petrohue River. A gushing ribbon of bright blue water finds its way through the landscape and does not fail to amaze us. While the sun peeks through the clouds for the very first time that day, we decide it may be a good idea to return to the falls after all…
So we drive back and park our car next to the other ones. It must still be quite something since there’s at least 40 of them and it’s low season right now. We pay a small entrance fee (no more than 5 euros, we always forget amounts and are too lazy to write them down) and make our way to the falls. First through an ancient Valdivian rain forest, then across some bridges and finally to the thundering Petrohue Falls. This is by far the bluest water we’ve ever seen in a river and the game the clouds and sun are playing make it a stunning panorama. Not disappointed!
After hanging out at the falls for a bit, we decide to hike a bit further down the river where a trail will lead you to the banks. Despite other tourists around, it’s quiet and all you can hear is the river rushing through the canyon. At the banks we hang out for a while, taking pictures and using branches to swing from. We visit a small blue lake and hike deeper into the forest. It’s almost entirely sunny now and we consider ourselves extremely lucky.
Upon arrival back at the car we are hoping to see Osorno volcano out of the clouds so we can admire if from closeby. If that has happened, you can read next time, in part 3 of our Patagonian roadtrip…
For now, we’d like to end with a short video we made of our roadtrip. Lots of driving, Anto being extremly focused (don’t mind the angry face) and some bush hiking in Cochamó.
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