Chile’s Lake District

We are finally “back on the road again”, something Anne sings from time to time when she is happy to be back on the motorbike. We spend two half days riding down ‘Route 5’ which is the main dual highway road spine of Chile. Easy riding, but the tolls every 50km or so are a pain to pay the 1400 pesos for two bikes – fumbling with notes and coins in gloves is not the easiest. I have resorted to small envelopes pre-packed with one 1000 peso note and four 100 peso coins. Apart from this minor irritant, weather is good, not too hot, traffic is light and follows road rules, something we have not been used to for quite a while. Our first destination is Talca, a town some 250km south of Santiago, we overnight and then push on to Temuco, our jumping off point for the Chilean Lake District, our first area to explore in our southward meander. Temuco has an unusual statue in the town’s main square which is dedicated to all the peoples, including indigenous Mapuche, who contributed to the area’s development.

Monumento a la Araucania, Plaza de Armas, Temuco

Monumento a la Araucania, Plaza de Armas, Temuco

We are slowly adjusting to the the local timings, such as late breakfast, lunch and dinner. Here this pizza restaurant was open at 7pm, with one member of staff when we arrived, we were the only customers. I think we had finished dinner before all the staff arrived!

The backdrop to the main counter at Lola restaurant, Temuco, Chile

The backdrop to the main counter at Lola restaurant, Temuco, Chile

Thinking of the Cab Sav we are about to enjoy.

Thinking of the Cab Sav we are about to enjoy.

In Temuco, we visit the railway museum, which while they have retained some impressive buildings such as the coaling tower and roundhouse for locomotives, the level of carriage and engine maintenance is non existent with rusty coaches and deteriorating steam engines, a pity really as it could be a wonderful historic tourist attraction. We travelled parallel to a railway line down route 5 and while bridges and other infastructure appeared intact the track, catenary and signalling had a disused air about it, plus we saw no trains running. It appears some sections are no longer in use, probably due to the highway running parallel to the railway offering faster transportation options for people and goods.

Steam crane and coaling station at the railway museum, Temuco

Steam crane and coaling station at the railway museum, Temuco

Museo Nacional Ferroviario at Temuco, Engine Roundhouse

Museo Nacional Ferroviario at Temuco, Engine Roundhouse

We turn west heading for lago or lake Villarrica, traffic is heavy coming back as it is the end of the school holidays, every property we pass seems to offer Cabañas or camping of various quality. As we start to skirt the lake, we get our first glimpse of Mt Villarrica as we head towards Pucón.

Our first glimpse of Villarrica volcano, Chile

Our first glimpse of Villarrica volcano, Chile

Mt Villarrica dominates that landscape at 2,840m with a wisp of smoke coming from the top, we understand that the last volcanic activity started in December 2014 and has not finished yet! Each day at 12:00 they test the emergency alarm, which covers volcanic eruptions, earthquakes and tsunamis on the coast. Warning signs give evacuation routes for the volcanic activity, we will be happy to avoid such potential excitement.

This sign was found in many places we went to in Chile

This sign was found in many places we went to in Chile

Pucón is a charming, if somewhat touristy, village at the eastern edge of Lake Villarrica under the watchful gaze of Mt Villarrica, seems everything is named after the volcano. We spend a relaxing afternoon and enjoy the long summer twilight, which lasts till about 9:30pm even at this time of the year.

In Pucón with Villarrica volcano in the background

In Pucón with Villarrica volcano in the background

South brings us to lake Calafquen in search of hot springs, mentionned in other travel blogs which can be a good source of current information. Our chosen hot springs destination is Termas Geometricas some 20 kilometers towards the Villarrica volcano, which I presume is the source of the warming waters. This beautifully developed hot springs is laid out above the stream that cuts through a verdant green gorge. We spend a relaxing afternoon testing various pools, which range between 36 and 45 degrees (and make us wonder how hot a couple of pools closed for being too hot were) and take a walk in the forest above the hot springs before returning to our campground in Coñaripe, on the edge of Calafquen lake.

Termas Geometricas, Coñaripe

Termas Geometricas, Coñaripe

Wildlife spotted at Termas Geometricas, Coñaripe, Chile

Wildlife spotted at Termas Geometricas, Coñaripe, Chile

Enjoying a soak in one of the many pools at Termas Geometricas, Coñaripe, Chile

Enjoying a soak in one of the many pools at Termas Geometricas, Coñaripe, Chile

Small lizard spotted during our forest walk

Small lizard spotted during our forest walk

Termas Geometricas viewed from our forest walk

Termas Geometricas viewed from our forest walk

Anne is excited at camping again.

Anthony

14 comments on “Chile’s Lake District

  1. Well I hope you didn’t have to evacuate! Thought of you as we saw the volcanic activity. What a beautifully breath taking part of the world-gives one a relaxed feeling just looking at your photos !! Happy travelling !xxx

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  2. Glad you chose the best evacuation route by going to the Easter Islands…. great to get an insight into parts of Chile. Enjoy ‘being away from it all’, you certainly are on the Isla Pascua ; ) xxx

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    • Thank you, getting to Panama would have been a interesting journey with the number of countries travelled through. Great roads here with many local BMW 1200’s traversing them. Am sure you will enjoy. When do you plan to travel down here?

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  3. How amazing is it that Villarrica should have erupted – after how many years? – precisely when you were there? Loved the “wildlife spotted”! xx

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  4. Termas Geometricas looks fabulous and the hot springs would be a good relaxation before the next leg of the journey. Great idea to use envelopes with the correct amount in for each toll – small adjustment, big return. Hope the bike is performing as expected? xx

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