Tag Archives: Puerto Varas

Osorno Volcano is Beuno!

Since arriving in Puerto Varas, Chile, a few days ago, the mammoth spectre of Volcan Osorno has been haunting me. The ancient behemoth has been hiding behind the clouds, peering out sporadically to give me some idea of his glory, before disappearing again. I’d had enough, so today I decided to go out and find the big bludger and climb all over him. Serves him right for being a big tease.

It was cold and cloudy as I made my way towards Vicente Pérez Rosales National Park on the bus, and I could catch only glimpses of Osorno out the window. Things weren’t looking good, and I feared my run of bad luck with volcanoes would continue, but I kept going. When I jumped off in the tiny village of Petrohue, there was still no sign of the volcano, but the mountains and lake were truly stunning.

I took the Paso Desolacion (“The Path of Desolation”), which winds around the base of Osarno, without reaching the summit – probably a good thing because customs confiscated my ice pick. As I began climbing higher, the swirling clouds parted for just long enough for me to make out the shape of Osorno. I’d see a flash of something white and pointy, then it would be gone. He was proud and regal, yet shy and unwilling to expose himself to me – I guess it would be similar to encountering Prince Charles in the changerooms at the polo club.

When I finally stopped for lunch after 13km of pleasantly inclined rambling, something magical happened. The clouds slipped away, the sun shone brighter, the birds sang louder (not really, because I don’t think I saw a single bird the whole time, exceptfor a fat chick taking a selfie) and then there he was in all his glory. Volcan Osarno exposed himself to me, and I saw every rock hard ridge and gleaming crevasse. It was one of the most incredible things I’ve ever seen. I was so impressed that I almost dropped my empenada!

The sight of Osanrno up close is incredible, and I’m glad I was able to see the big fella both lurking in clouds and basking in sunlight, as it gave me a greater appreciation for his magnificence. Having the time to just sit there and take it all in, marvelling at the beauty of the world, and thinking about all that has happened to Osarno over thousands of years was brilliant. I really felt like I was in an incredible place, and at one with the planet.

Just then, I heard an ominous rumbling and smelled the frightening scent of burning sulpher. Osorno hasn’t been active since 1869, but I knew what it meant. I turned to run from the pending eruption, with thoughts of boiling to death in lava running through my mind, when I saw a hefty bloke standing nearby with flies dying all around him.

“Sorry,” he said as his cheeks turned red. “I must’ve had a bad completo last night.”

The only way to truly see Chile’s volcanoes is to get out there and experience them for yourself. Photos don’t do them justice, and tours don’t allow the time or the peace needed to connect wih them. You need to climb them, fall down them, get lost on them. Only then can you gain an appreciation for just how awesome they are. These massive chunks of rock are some of the most fascinating things you’ll ever see in your life – at least, I know that’s true for me. As for me and Osorno? He’s taking me out for pisco sour and dancing tonight. Wish me luck…


I apologise for veering dangerously close to travel blog territory here, but I had a bit of trouble trawling the internet for info on how to get to this hike, so I’ll chuck it up here for anyone having similar trouble. From Puerto Veras, buses leave hourly (or there abouts) from the stop at the corner of Del Salvador and San Francisco. They’ll say Petrohue on the front, take around 90 minutes to get there, cost 2000 pesos, probably be incredibly packed, and drop you off within spitting distance of the trackhead. From Petrohue bus stop, walk towards the lake, cross the lava river (it’s cooled down, so don’t worry), and you’re there. Enjoy your hike!


Tutti Frutillar

What’s the fruitiest little town on the planet? No, it’s not Orange, and it’s certainly not Berry, it’s the Southern Chilean village of Frutillar, a picturesque spot on the shores of Lago Llanquihue. With its gorgeous Germanic architecture, tree-lined streets and sweeping views out over Volcan Osorno, this place is sweeter than a handful of dried figs and better for your health than a daily apple.

Frutillar is an easy 50 minute bus ride from nearby Puerto Varas, over lush green hills and through simple, run-down towns full of stern-faced Chileans. Once again this country has surprised me with how quickly it can change – from modern and clean one minute to backwards and grimy the next. It’s a nice trip out there, but the best was most definitely still to come.

Like many towns in Los Lagos, Frutillar was settled by Germans who were run out of their homeland by snakes or something. More than 100 years later, this influence is still evident, with Euro houses, images of frightening eagles and swastikas biergartens all over the place. The first time a little bloke walked out of his restaurant and suggested I munch on his strudel, I almost thumped him, but was soon gobbling as much thick, juicy pastry as possible.

The weather in this part of the world can be as unpredictable as an ice addict and twice as nasty. It can be sunny and warm with bright blue skies, then dark and stormy with torrential rain, then windy and cold, all within a period of 15 minutes. It’s mental, and I was constantly dressing and undressing in a desperate attempt to keep up with the weather. Things never cleared up enough to get a great look at Volcan Osorno, but then again not being able to see volcanos is becoming a bit of a theme on this trip.

Despite being dominated by scores of well-preserved historic buildings, the most impressive structure in town is the massive Teatro del Lago (or Theatre of the Lake in non-Spanish). Built over the water from enough colourful bits of wood to make a greenie cry for a week, it’s an impressive sight and hosts performances from some of Chile’s greatest opera singers. There was nothing like that going on when I visited, but I did see a homeless man arguing with a shoe round the back, so it wasn’t a total loss.

When I found an old piano by the lake’s edge, I decided to put on a concert for the passing tourists. I haven’t played a musical instrument (other than the rusty trombone) since my early days of high school, but I must be a savant because I soon had dozens of classical music enthusists from around the world grooving in the street, and humming and clapping along to my selection of 90s advertising jingles. They seemed to particularly enjoy my 35-minute rendition of the VB theme.

Alright, so maybe my audience wasn’t dozens, it was two, and they weren’t music enthusiasts, they were flea-riddled street dogs, and they weren’t dancing, they were mainly just licking their balls and humping each other. But whatever, I’m still cool. I’m available to perform at weddings, birthdays, pet funerals, bar vitzvahs, bat bitzvahs and penis cutting ceremonies. I’m waiting for your call.