March 18, 2017

Chile | Punta Arenas

We made a brief two night stop in Punta Arenas, flying in from Puerto Varas. One of the southernmost cities in the world, Punta Arenas is the launching point for many Antarctic expeditions. We saw several expedition members scattered around town in their matching jackets. Punta Arenas left a lot to be desired. We considered doing one of the penguin tours, but they were all insanely expensive without any food included. We opted instead to just walk around town and explore on our own. We visited some of the historic mansions, and enjoyed a nice afternoon looking over the city. In hindsight, we should have immediately boarded a bus to Puerto Natales when we landed, but it was good to get a little taste of such a remote city.

February 21, 2017

Chile | Puerto Varas

Following our stay on the charming island of Chiloe, we made our way few hours back up north to the lakeside town of Puerto Varas.  In the mid 19th Century there was a large influx of German immigrants, who brought their architecture and love of good chocolate and well crafted beer with them.  We had a very brief two nights in Puerto Varas, and were fortunate enough to stay at the wonderful Guest House Puerto Varas.  Originally home to a large family, the house now welcomes travelers to its awesome shared living spaces and delicious breakfast.  We had some really goo food while in Puerto Varas, especially at La Gringa, and Costumbrista.  We also enjoyed the small food truck park for tacos and coffee, and the pop up Christmas market featuring local products.  Now it was time to really head south into the heart of Patagonia.

February 5, 2017

Chile | Chiloe Island

After a few days in Pucon, we continued south to the island of Chiloe. It took about 8 hours, plus a stop in Puerto Montt and a short ferry ride to reach the largest city of Castro.  The island is famous for its numerous wooden churches, and the palafitos.  The palafitos are buildings constructed on piers over the water, and our hostel was one of them.  Palafito Hostel was excellent with a huge kitchen and living room, plus a balcony over the water.  Our first full day we joined an all day tour to see more of the churches and smaller towns.  It included another short ferry to the island of Quinchao where we were lucky enough to participate in a local religious festival.  We ate lunch with the locals and explored the Quinchao church as it was decorated for this day.  Arriving back at our wonderful hostel, we cooked dinner and enjoyed the sunset from the balcony.

During our stay, we also took the public bus to Chiloe National Park and spent several hours walking the trails there.  One trail went into a thick forest, and the other led to the Pacific Ocean.  We shared the beach with grazing cows.  The ocean was too far out to reach and it looked pretty wild out there.  We caught the bus back to Castro and after dinner I went and hung out with some fishermen who were casting lines right outside of our hostel.  The tide swing here is incredible and very fast.  It seemed to take only minutes for it to rise a dozen feet.

We stayed in Castro for four nights, enjoying perfect weather and very friendly locals.  It was a very relaxing place with many places to see.  You could spend weeks here exploring the smaller islands that surround Chiloe.