Chile; The Lakes

The trip to the border took us up the beautiful Puyehue pass right into the clouds. It was raining too which spoilt the view a little. The formalities were efficiently dealt with on the Argentinian side and we were off to the Chilean border about 30 km away on a winding mountain road. Everything went smoothly until they asked us to open the camper. Our shopping was in packets on the floor. All the fruit and veggies and some meat was confiscated.  We’d been assured in Argentina that there were no restricted products. Solveig tried her African crying trick but it gained no sympathy from the Chilean officials.
We headed for Osorno, the main town in the area. We fruitlessly searched for a tourist bureau in the city. It seemed as if all the streets in the town were being rebuilt. There were detours and chaos everywhere and our GPS just couldn’t cope so we headed for the hills literally. We thought that closer to the mountains and lakes there would be camping.
At Lago Ranco we took a signposted road to a campsite.  After a few kilometers the road deteriorated into a track up a steep mountain. We turned back after not finding the camp. The view of the lake was good though.

A little further around the lake we came to a farm that offered camping. It was bitterly cold when we arrived at about 8pm. A first we could not find a soul and we just made ourselves at home. Solveig knocked on all of the doors of the houses on the farm and eventually an old man appeared and said that yes we could camp.

A while later he re-appeared with a kettle of boiling hot water to welcome us. We’ve been fortunate to find so many wonderful people everywhere we go, here in South America, as well as on our African journey. The next morning we awoke to a beautiful day. There was nobody around to pay for our nights stay so we left a beaded flower from home as a gift in lieu of payment.


We passed through a stunning countryside with many small farms.
The lupins of Argentina had been replace by deep blue hydrangeas lining the roads.  Familiar plants and flowers like fuchsias,  red hot pokers, morning glories, nasturtiums, oleanders are everywhere to be seen. It’s was like being at home.
Two hours later we were back on the Ruta 5, which is the Chilean part of the Pan American Highway, we headed northwards. It’s a dual carriage highway running the entire length of Chile, and it is tolled unfortunately, hopeful not the whole way. Keep the Cape Toll free please!

After about 200kms we left the highway for Villarrica, a resort town on the lake of the same name. It lies at the foot of Volcan Villarrica. We changed our remaining Argentinian Pesos and a few dollars for Chilean Pesos and did some shopping to replace our confiscated essentials. It was still early so we decided to explore the area before settling in at a campsite. Along the lakeshore towards Pucón were many campsites to choose from.

We made ourselves lunch on the beach in Pucón, a really lovely resort town, and treated ourselves to to coffee and pastries in one of the dozens of coffee shops.  We chose to stay at a campsite about halfway between Villarrica and Pucón on the edge of the lake because it had Wifi,  besides being located in heaven!

We find that with the late sunsets (8:55pm) and long dusk we only eat at about 10 pm and get to sleep between 11 and midnight. Very late for campers! Consequently we only got going late the next day.

  It was 11:00 before we headed up to Volcan Villarrica, about 15 km from the lake.
What an amazing sight. It’s an active volcano so there’s lava in the crater and smoke coming from the summit.

We stopped at a craft shop on the way from the volcano.

Later we visited Lago Caburga in the nearby mountains and forests. 

On the way there we’d passed a sign to a campsite which we investigated on our way back. Located about 3 km off the road in the midst of huge trees. We were surprised at how many smallholdings there were along the country lane which twisted it’s way through what seemed like fairyland. So many advertised fresh produce for sale too. There were many signs on the way indicating how much further we had to go to the camping lest we lost interest! Eventually arriving at our destination, we were welcomed by a really proud lady who came out of her delightful cottage farm house, beautifully decorated and with a garden full of flowers.

She first led us to where we’d camp and showed us the ablutions with showers heated by gas, L.E.D lighting and other facilities. She was eager to share their beautiful farm with us, located in a forrest at the side of a river, with crystal clear water gushing from the rocks. Magic!
She led us on an enchanted walk, crossing streams on moss covered logs, passing sheep, accompanied by her dogs leading the way. We came across her husband busy making furniture with a chainsaw! A log table with a huge top cut from a tree trunk. An amazing homemade water wheel, made from large yogurt buckets, to fill a watertank to supply the campsite.

A real “boer maak ‘n plan couple” proud of their creations. And justly so.
And the best…we were on our own…..again!
The next day we needed to get the cooking gas sorted out so we returned to Pucón. While there Solveig and I shared a huge hamburger and chips in a restaurant where there was wifi. We were totally coffied out by now from the need to connect to wifi so the hamburger made a welcome change. It was a real gourmet burger, called an Italiano with an avo filling….but we still had coffee never the less!

Author: Ian & Solveig's Overland Adventures

Although we never achieved our original goal of reaching Norway overland through Africa, our experience was so unexpectedly rewarding that we've not been able to settled down again! So we added new destinations to our lust for adventure. We hope that you will join us in sharing new exciting places and encounters with the amazing people we meet along the way.

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