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Showing posts from January, 2010

Part 6: Villarrica

On Jan. 12th we left Valdivia and headed east.  Our first stop was at Panguipulli to see the neat church.  It was built by the Capuchins and was modeled on chapels around Berne, Switzerland.  There are similar churches throughout the Lakes District and they were built like this one.  This little town has a pretty plaza with many roses.  It’s actually known as the town of roses.  The countryside around Panguipulli is gorgeous – rolling green pastureland with cows, sheep and horses dotting the landscape. 

We got in to Villarrica to the Hosteria de la Colina early in the afternoon.  The Hosteria is great – Glen and Bev make you feel so welcome and are so helpful in everything.  We got unpacked and explored the grounds at the Hosteria.  They have a greenhouse behind the inn and it is beautiful.  There are so many neat plants and flowers throughout the grounds here.  The kids were starving early on so they ordered – Kirsi ate a whole barbecued chicken leg and Aidan devoured a huge piece of…

Part 5: Puerto Varas to Valdivia

On Jan. 9th, we left our cabins by the penguins and headed inland.  Unfortunately, it was rainy when we left so it was too ugly to be outside when crossing over to the mainland on the ferry.  We first went to Puerto Varas, along Lago Llanquehue, to give Del and Ilene a taste of the little towns in this area.  Puerto Varas has a population of about 22 000 people and is becoming more and more of a base for adventure tourism in the south of Chile, just after Pucon.  During our stop, we saw people participating in an open-water sports competition.  They were swimming in a relay, kayaking and there was lots pumping music coming through the speakers.  :)  We stopped by the summer handicraft market to see what was on offer.  We ended up buying a few prints from a local artist to get framed to remind us of our favourite parts of Chile and a mask of a Selk’nam or Onas aboriginal (from the very south of Chile).  We also went to see one of the well-preserved houses of the German immigrants that …

Part 4: Chiloe

I found the cabins at Pinguinland online, just by chance, but we were really excited about them.  They’re located on a hilltop overlooking a small bay off the Pacific Ocean at Punihuil.  They were more rustic than I had thought, at least from what I had seen from the website, but the location was so worth it.  It was a beautiful setting and so peaceful; other than the cabins around us, we were alone.  It was fantastic.

Just before breakfast, we went for a little walk around the cabins and we saw the strangest little animal.  It looked like a tiny deer and it had hooves and little horns.  It was busy eating the grass and came really close to us.  Nana had her camera with her and got some great shots of the creature.  Later on, we discovered that it was a pudu.  We were so excited to have seen a pudu because it’s very rare anymore.

Our first morning there, we decided to do a penguin tour.  We went down the hill and to the bay that we saw from the cabins.  In this bay, Magellanic and Hu…

Part 3: San Martin de los Andes to Chiloe

Tuesday morning, at 8:00 am we were on the road to San Martin de los Andes.  We decided to drive the more indirect but better roads way, so we headed to Neuquen, then to Zapala, through Junin de los Andes and finally to San Martin.  It was a long day in the van with very few stops.  We got out for gas or to pee a few times but we really tried to make the best time we could.  About half way to Neuquen, the wind really picked up and it was blowing non-stop until past Zapala, at least eight hours of it.  It was really hard driving, especially in the van because it sits so high up and it catches the gusts.  Poor Der!  He had to drive much slower than normal because of this.  As we entered the region of Neuquen, we entered a part of the Patagonia and they made us throw away all fruit, vegetables, meat and honey because the region is free of a certain fruit fly and another thing that I have no idea what it is.  That was a bummer because we’d just picked up some fresh fruit for the trip.  We…

Part 2: Malargue and San Rafael

The next day, we headed out quite early to Malargue.  It took us a while to get out of Mendoza; we got turned around and ended up taking the wrong road.  We finally got going and headed south.  We saw some impressive mountain peaks, some of them still were snow-covered.  We drove past Las Lenas, the famous ski resort where all the Argentinean socialites go to see and be seen in the winter. 

As we got closer to Malargue, we noticed the countryside was dotted with white plastic containers.  There is an astrophysics experiment going on where they are trying to measure the high-energy cosmic rays that come to the earth from space.  This is called the Pierre Auger experiment.  These plastic containers are actually water tanks and they are acting as particle detectors for the experiment.  At the end of the project, there will be 1600 of these scattered around Malargue, 1.5 km apart.  We didn’t get to the observatory but saw it in our comings and goings.

We got in to our cabins around 2:00…