An early morning view across Cochamo Bay from Cabanas Mondymar.



Argentina & Chile,

7th March - 28th March 2010

[9 - Puerto Varas & Cochamó ]




A day outing to Puerto Varas, a town with strong Germanic traditions, to shop for food for the Gaucho Trail from Cochamo.


Wi-Fi connection at Cafe El Barista; Our Cochamo to Puerto Varas mini-bus driver poses after drop-off back in Cochamo.


Friday 19th March


Kelson, Ralph and I shared one of the tiny rooms in the Cabanas. The taxi which Elena had ordered arrived around 09h00, taking us north to Puerto Varas to do some shopping for the next leg of the trip. En route the gravel roads of Cochamó reverted to tarred roads. Puerto Varas is well known for its German traditions, its food, its fish and seafood, the natural environment, its casino and 4 star hotels, a far cry from what we had seen and experienced on Senda Los Hitos. Very European in appearance, in some ways it reminded me of Lake Constance in southern Germany. Only 20 km from Puerto Montt, it is located on the shore of the Llanquihue Lake, one of the largest natural lakes in South America. The perfect cone of Osorno Volcano and the snowcapped peaks of Mt. Calbuco and Mt. Tronador are clearly visible from the lakefront.

Our driver had parked in the underground parking area of a rather upmarket supermercado, so we first got the important aspect of the shopping out of the way and loaded our groceries. Ralph and I seemed to have got our shopping requirements for the Senda Los Hitos trek "spot on", so barring a few minor changes, we opted for the same food again! Next Café El Barista satisfied Ralph and Kelson's Wi-Fi connection requirements. After another stop for empanadas, we changed some more money and walked down to the promenade at the lake. Back at the bus around 15h00 for which we had been asked to fork out $5500 (Chilean) each, we headed back, though not before we stopped briefly en route for a photo shoot with Osorno forming the backdrop. The countless cabanas, campsites and similar tourist operations that flashed by, adopted mostly German names like as Lorelei (we didn't find a Bergtesgarten though).






Shoreline views from Puerto Varas, with the Osorno volcano above the cloudline.


The hot, sunny day had clearly lifted everyone's spirits. Back in Cochamó, Ralph and I went hunting for a Cochamó tourist map Elena had bought in Puerto Varas, but without any success. Passing the local church, we noticed a swine in the grounds rubbing its itchy torso on a wall just in front a sculpture of the Virgin Mary, obviously agnostic and showing scant respect. Down at the harbour, I was approached by a dude wearing a Roma football tracksuit asking me if I would take a photo of him, exchanging Facebook details in the process. It turned out later after we connected up on this website that señor Carlos Villalobos Gomez was in fact based in Puerto Varas. In Puerto Varas, however, we had found a rather nice outdoor shop stocking very specific gear, where we managed to purchase a great Aoneker map of Cochamó valley and the hike we were about to undertake.



Stopping en route on the way back to Cochamo from Puerto Varas provided a perfect photo opportunity of Osorno.


Dinner arrangements for the evening involved a short walk to the harbour and Hostal Maura, apparently with an exceedingly good reputation for food, run by a one Cookis Nuria, a short somewhat plump lady with a warm and welcoming demeanour. On the eve of the El Gaucho Trail, the disappointing news regardless as to whom we spoke, was that the weather outlook for the week looked diabolically bad! My packing done, I was ready to go, albeit with some anxiety. On one hand, we were venturing into the unknown and on the other, the weather would undoubtedly have an effect. Kelson and Elena had never done this walk before either. Speaking to Elena, I learnt that she shared my anxiety. I did not know whether that resulted in mine intensifying or whether I ought to derive comfort in having that anxiety shared. Regardless, we sensed we were in for the mother of all hikes!


A Cochamo walkabout: View up Cochamo Valley and our impending Gaucho Trek; The itchy, agnostic swine shows the Virgin Mary scant respect.



Views down towards and from Cochamo's small harbour.


Cochamo's local church.


At Cochamo harbour I encountered a one Carlos Villaslobos Gomez - he's the one with the pensive look sitting on a packet of the green stuff!


Additional photos courtesy Ralph Pina, Harald Weber & Andre Greyling.

Dinner at Hostal Maura, run by the effervescent Cookis Nuria.


Patagonia, Argentina & Chile

[Intro-Pre Trip] [1] [2] [3] [4] [5] [6] [7] [8] [9] [10] [11] [12] [13] [14] [15] [16] [17] [18] [GPS Tracks]

Other Tour Group photos (Picasa):  [1 - Kelson & Elena]  [2 - Ralph]  [3 - Harald]

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