Recently my family flew south of Valparaíso to visit the picturesque landscapes of Chiloé and the Lakes District of Chile. We flew in to Puerto Montt on a Monday to a crisp temperature but a clear sky. As we landed we got an amazing view of the clear blue lakes and snow covered volcanoes that dot the landscape.
This region is notorious for being cold and rainy, but our first few days were incredibly clear. As we drove in to Puerto Varas we were able to see the volcanoes from the ground. It was fall in the Southern Hemisphere and all the leaves changing colors reminded me of fall in New England.
We arrived in Puerto Varas, a small town at the edge of Lake Llanquihue and directly across from Volcán Osorno. We met some one of my parents’ friends from college who also happened to have two kids and who had been living in Puerto Varas for the year. That evening we got a stunning view of the volcanoes at sunset.
The next day we woke up as early as we could and scampered into the car out of the cold morning air for a four-hour car ride to some natural hot springs called Termas Geométricas. Another clear day provided us with more breathtaking views of the volcanic peaks poking up between the lakes.
Pictures don’t do justice to the view. Finally by early afternoon we arrived to Termas Geométricas. At under 60 degrees outside, it was a shock to my system when I stepped out of the warm car and into the brisk fall air. As we checked in and received keys to our lockers we were given our first view of the springs.
Red wooden walkways connect together almost 20 pools of varying temperatures from icy cold to 45 degrees celsius. The pools were located within a canyon carved out by a cold water stream flowing through the middle. This freezing water was mixed with the scalding water from the springs to vary the temperature of each pool. It reminded me of Japanese Ofuros.
The walk between each pool felt three times the length as the cold air shocked our system each time we switched between the steaming pools. After the freezing experience of drying off with a wet towel in the outside changing rooms, we were ready to hop into a warm car for the long car trip back towards the Island of Chiloé.
Before the island though we spent one last day exploring the natural beauties of the lakes district. We hiked to a waterfall in the morning.
After that we drove up above the clouds and tree line to a ski resort on the side of one of the volcanoes. Unfortunately it wasn’t quite ski season but we were able to slide around on some icy snow and admire the view of the clouds carpeting the valley below.
The last days of our trip would be spent on the Island of Chiloé, famous for being Spain’s last holdout before Chile gained its independence. The architecture of Chiloé is special for being different than most other places in Chile with stilt houses and wooden churches.
We actually stayed in one of those stilt houses for the night in Castro, Chiloé’s biggest city. However, once we got on to the island we realized how lucky we had been with the clear weather earlier in our trip. Apart from a few times that the clouds parted making rainbows, the entire time we were on Chiloé Island was grey cold and rainy.
We retraced a path that Darwin had taken when he visited South America and was developing his ideas about evolution. The weather even behaved as halfway through our hike the rain stopped and the sun came out to make a rainbow.
Before we left the Island we made one more stop. Early in the morning on our last day we stopped by a beach known for its flocks of flamingos.