email
The Silk Route - World Travel: Lake Todos los Sanotos, Chile
americas asia pacific africa & middle east europe

Chile: Patagonian Lake District
November 2013

Ancud & the Punihuil Penguin Colony Crossing Todos Los Santos Lake to Peulla
Peulla Recrossing Todos Los Santos Lake to PetrohuéPuerto Varas
Volcano Osorno

 

A day trip to see penguins and eat traditional food before moving on to Peuerto Varas, stunning volcanoes and a spectacular crossing of Todos Los Santos Lake in the beautiful Lake District of Patagonia.

Ancud & the Punihuil Penguin Colony

chile
Mountains on the western side of Chile.

When we arrived in Puerto Montt,  a thousand kilometres to the south of Santiago from where we flew, it was raining - not altogether surprising as it rains two out of every three days in this region. For the first part of the flight we got great views of the mountains but gradually it became cloudier.

We were met by our guide Patrizia and driver Claudio who did their very best to make a rainy day interesting. We drove straight to the ferry for Chiloe Island. We saw sea lions in the water as we crossed the Pargua Straits.

Humboldt and Magellanic Penguins chiloe
Humboldt (left) & Magellanic Penguins
The Magellanic has a wide black collar and thinner black line across the chest; the Humboldt has no collar, just the black chest stripe.

Magellanic  Penguin chiloe
Flightless Steamer Duck

The rain had stopped by the time we docked and we drove on via Ancud, though it was very overcast. Ancud was established in 1767 as a Spanish fort, the first port of call for ships after rounding the treacherous seas of Cape Horn.

red legged cormorants chiloe
Beautiful red-legged cormorants.
Magellanic Penguin chiloe
red legged cormorants chiloe
Flightless Steamer Ducks in inclement weather!
Magellanic Penguin chiloe
Magellanic Penguin
Bandurrias chiloe
Bandurrias
red legged cormorants chiloe
Humboldt Penguin

We arrived at Punihuil just as a motor boat was preparing to go out to the penguin colony so we quickly got dressed in waterproof gear and climbed aboard. The rain was still holding off as we approached a few small islands close to shore. We saw maybe twenty Magellanic and Humboldt penguins, some quite stationary, others waddling along the cliff top. One I saw jump out of a small cave and slither down the rock face - very cute and funny. This is the only place in the world where they breed alongside each other.

We motored between the islands, which are formed of volcanic rock, in the relatively calm waters and also saw lots of other seabirds including coal-black cormorants and bandurrias. It was a nice little trip though quite tricky to take photographs because of the movement of the boat and low light levels.

penguin chiloe
With a beak full of grass this penguin is off to line a nest. Both Magellanic and Humboldt penguins prefer to nest in a burrow but will use caves or surface scrapes if necessary.
Magellanic and Humboldt Penguins chiloe
One Magellanic and two Humboldt Penguins
red legged cormorants chiloe
Magellanic  Penguin chiloe
Magellanic Penguin

Fun though it was to see the penguins, this isn't an Antarctic scene of hundreds of birds tumbling into the sea - we'll have to go elsewhere to see that!

curanto
Shellfish curanto

Back on shore we were taken to see a traditional way of cooking called curanto: a large hole on the ground is filled with hot rocks and shellfish of all varieties, meat, sausages, dumplings and vegetables. It is covered with piles of nalca leaves which look very like huge rhubarb, and then turf and left  to cook.

curanto
The shellfish and hot rocks are tumbled together.
curanto
Curanto

 

curanto
A singularly fine piure specimen - we both tried and liked this strongly flavoured shellfish.

chimango caracara
A Chimango Caracara.
nalc
Nalca, a type of Gunnera.

The curanto in Chiloe is said to be the best and most authentic! We had a chance to find out in a beachside restaurant and it was quite an experience.

After lunch we were given various options and chose to go to the new market in Ancud.

 


Seaweed pressed into a block.
smoked mussels
Smoked mussels.
peppers
These chilis look as if they could be very hot!
market

Merquen is smoked chili pepper, used as a condiment. In front are bundles of the seaweed cochayuyo.
peppers
market
In the middle are thick narca stems.

Crossing Todos Los Santos Lake to Peulla

estancia 440
Estancia 440 a typical wooden house.

We left for the ferry and drive to Puerto Varas on the southern shore of Lake Llanquihue which was to be our base for the next few days. We were staying at Estancia 440 and were exhausted when we arrived, too tired to go out for a meal. The wonderful manager, Rebeca, made us tea and toast with ham, cheese, jams and beautiful fresh strawberries - really excellent service.

calbuco volcano
Volcán Calbuco, 2015m, seen from our room.

We had a corner room with a terrific view of the Calbuco volcano.

The following day we were due to cross Todos Los Santos Lake to Peulla and were very apprehensive that the weather would not be good. We were so lucky to wake the next morning to almost totally clear skies.

The Lake District of Patagonia is a vast area of glacial lakes, lush forests mountains and extinct volcanoes, one of the most beautiful regions of Patagonia.

osorno volcano
Volcán Osorno to the east of Lake Llanquihue.
calbuco volcano
Volcán Calbuco

We were picked up at eight and transferred into the town where we boarded a coach to take us to Petrohué at the west end of Todos Los Santos Lake. This was quite a long journey along the southern shore of Lake Llanquihue but through some lovely scenery.

osorno volcano
Volcán Osorno
petrohue falls
Petrohué Falls

 

We stopped at Petrohué Falls, where we had very good views of Volcan Osorno which lies between the two lakes, before continuing to Petrohué.

 

osorno volcano
2652m high Osorno is a classic cone-shaped volcano.

 

 

Volcanoes being one of my favourite landscape phenomena I was very excited to be doing this trip.

 

osorno volcano
Todos Los Santos Lake
The lake is ringed with mountains with one or two small islands.
osorno volcano
As we started the crossing the peak of Osorno was again briefly visible between cloud layers.

Todos Los Santos Lake extends approximately 30km from Petrohué on its western shore to Peulla on the east.

Todos Los Santos Lake
Todos Los Santos Lake
At one point we went close to the north shore and these falls.
Todos Los Santos Lake

Peulla

peulla

Peulla lies at the easternmost point of Todos Los Santos Lake. Crossing the lake took about two hours to reach this very small place, there is a large hotel here and  not much else as far as we could see. But it is in a beautiful location, surrounded by mountains, and we had a decent lunch at the Hotel Natura Patagonia sitting at a window table with great mountain views. After lunch we went for a walk before it was time to return to the catamaran for the crossing back to Petrohué.

peulla
This old steam engine was in the gorunds of the Hotel Natura.
peulla
There was a host of beautiful yellow irises on the edge of the wetland in front of the hotel.
peulla
peulla
peulla
peulla


peulla

Recrossing Todos Los Santos Lake to Petrohué

Todos Los Santos Lake
Todos Los Santos Lake
Todos Los Santos Lake
Todos Los Santos Lake

 

Todos Los Santos Lake

Todos Los Santos Lake
Todos Los Santos Lake



Todos Los Santos Lake

Osorno was looking even more spectacular as we approached from the east.

Todos Los Santos Lake



Todos Los Santos Lake
Todos Los Santos Lake
Todos Los Santos Lake
The peak of Volcán Puntiagudo, 2493m, was just obscured by cloud.
Todos Los Santos Lake
Todos Los Santos Lake

Puerto Varas

osorno

German-speaking Europeans were inviited to come and settle in this part of northern Patagonia during the nineteenth century and the region retains a strong Germanic character. Thus it wasn't totally bizarre to come across a full-blown Oktoberfest going on - even if it was November! A large tent had been set up near the lake and was full of food and beer stalls, German flags everywhere and a very loud oompah band.

Puerto Varas
Iglesia del Sagrado Corazón de Jesús
Puerto Varas
Puerto Varas
Museo Pablo Fierro
Puerto Varas
Volcán Calbuco

 

Puerto Varas

 

 

There's much German architecture in the town, notably the Iglesia del Sagrado Corazón de Jesús. For us, however, the main attraction was the lake and stunning views of Volcán Osorno.

 

We did come across a rather quirky little museum full of an eclectic array of artefacts (and not a little junk!), the Museo Pablo Fierro. Pablo Fierro is an artist and some of his works can be seen and purchased at the museum - it's well worth a visit.

Puerto Varas

Puerto Varas
Puerto Varas

We were only in Puerto Varas for a couple of days but in that time we saw Orsano in clear weather and under beautiful cloud layers. It was very hard to choose photographs!

Puerto Varas
Puerto Varas

Puerto Varas