Tag Archives: volcano

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…

INFO ON FINDING THIS HIKE:

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!

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Pucon ist wunderbar!

I love everything about Germany (well, except for their history of starting wars and slaughtering innocent people by the millions), so when I found out there’s a town in Southern Chile that looks like it’s straight out of Bavaria, I had to check it out. After a number of run-ins with the locals, Santiago was getting a bit hot for me anyway, so I went to the airport and told a passing pilot, “Hey bro, take me to Pucon!” He told me to go lay an egg, but I was able to find a flight that was heading that way, so I took it.

It was worth the trip, because Pucon is absolutely beautiful. It’s nestled on the banks of the crystal-clear Lago Villarrica and surrounded by densely forested mountains. Oh, and there’s a massive fuck-off volcano looming over everything, that’s so magical it’s hard to believe it’s real. The big fella is known as Volcán Villarrica and he’s 2,860m tall, so he’s quite spectacular and extremely active (just like me!). Pucon is a tourist town, with adventure-seekers from around the world rocking up to go hiking, white water rafting, and skydiving. There are also tonnes of good restaurants and lively bars, so if you’d rather sit around and get drunk and fat, you’re in luck.

As I strutted around, I really did feel like I was in München or Wanknōbbel – not surprising, seeing as the area was largely settled by sausage guzzlers 100 years ago. The buildings have been lovingly constructed in the traditional German style, and most of the people look European. The only thing that broke the illusion was the lack of schnitzels the size of my head. So I smashed about a thousand empenadas instead, then bought some el cheapo (my Spanish is already getting better!) beer to drink by the el agua. The weather was miserable, but I was enchanted by the scenery around me.

With so many fun-lovin’ people in town, it came as no surprise that my hostel was absolutely packed and full of life. The Chili Kiwi is right on the lake and has a great little bar stocked with a wide range delicious local beers, so I set about testing them all out. I’m pretty thorough when it comes to that sort of thing, so I ended up drinking close to my body weight and getting riotously drunk. There’s a party atmosphere there, so a good, safe and responsible time was had by all (except when a few of us started drinking a mixture of beer and red wine out of a flower vase).

As the night got blurrier, I wound up picking a fight with a pot plant and passing out in the toilet, thus ensuring that none of the good sorts in the hostel wanted anything to do with me. The next morning I was so hungover that I couldn’t stand to look at the volcano, let alone climb it, so I just sat around the hostel watching episodes of Becker and eating cold completos I found in the bin. I live a full life.