(November 7 – written by Dave)
We spent a nice day today riding the “Seven Lakes Route” in the Southern Chilean Lakes District. We didn’t know that the route had a fancy name but we certainly enjoyed the scenery. We saw four volcanos and three of the seven lakes. The countryside was nice rolling green hills, mixed in with lake and volcano views. It has been a wetter than usual spring here in Southern Chile and today, on a nice sunny day, we got to see just about every shade of green known to man. All the rain here, just like back in our homeland of Oregon, leads to green, green, green – very nice to look at on a dry day!
We didn’t get off this morning until 9AM. Staying last night at the Om Space hostel meant that we had a late brekkie this morning. You know those yoga people, relaxed, chilled and not in too big a hurry – haha. Relaxed means that brekkie is not an early event. At any rate, the food was nice, sort of the normal fare, but fresh eggs and some nice seeded rolls were a fine addition.
Leaving the lake, we had a climb of about 15k. Most of the climb was not overly steep but there were a few pitches that got us puffing. There was a small shoulder but traffic was pretty light as well. Of course we had a nice volcano view off to the left that kept us distracted from any pain that the hill was causing. There were some rolling hills at the top of the climb, then a steep downhill into the small lakeside town of Lican Ray.
We had morning tea in Lican Ray but it was a bit of an effort to find something suitable. We had visions of a fancy cafe with rustic bread products. We had to settle for a generic, basic bakery and machine push-button coffees. Given the slim pickings, we both an empanada and chocolate donut. Don’t judge, you didn’t see how limited the choices were. And for the record, the donut was not really all that tasty.
We came down to Lican Ray, even though it added 10k to the day, because we wanted to ride along Lake Calafquen (our second lake of the day). We were glad that we did as the road along the lake was narrow but very scenic. But also because when we joined back up with the main road, it was clearly not sealed coming from the shorter route. The lakeshore road was paved the entire length.
Once back on the main road, we had more rolling hills all the way to Panguipulli, a small village on the shores of Lake Panguipulli. Out on the road, we saw more volcanos – at one point in a large meadow we saw four nearly perfect cone shaped volcanos at the same time. They were too far apart to get a photo of all four at the same time – I knew I should have brought that drone with me on this trip – haha!
We had a bit of struggle finding a place to stay in Panguipulli. We found a place online but the hostel was not in the location Google said it was. We wandered a bit and gave up to eat lunch. We almost gave up on the planned hostel but decided to try one more street after eating and had better luck. There was no staff at the hostel reception so I had to call the number listed on their ad board. What do you know, I managed to have a conversation in Spanish, and get someone to come help us get a room in the Umantu Hostal. It is not fancy but we have a queen bed, plus four bunk beds in our room. So, if you’re in the neighbourhood of Panguipulli tonight, swing by, we’ll sub-let you some space.
We kind of like Panguipulli but it’s odd, most of these small Chilean towns feel like small towns in both the USA and Australia. We like Chile but haven’t found it nearly as unique to us as places like Peru and Bolivia. Of course, small towns in almost every country have ice cream shops. After showers, we headed across the street and had fresh blueberry milkshakes – spring in berry country is just around the corner. We should see more than just strawberries in the fruit stands pretty soon.
Today’s weather was pretty darn good, if not quite as blue as yesterday. Tomorrow’s forecast contains some rain but we are pushing onwards. Rain is not expected until the afternoon and we only have 81k to ride, plus some downhill, so we’ll see if booties are required – hope not.