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Published: January 2nd 2013
Leaving the estancia we headed across the border into Chile and onto the city of Santiago. It rained in Santiago, a lot, unexpectedly – earlier in the month we’d been told by the locals in Salta that it’d be hot, very hot, uncomfortably hot - so much so that the rain made the front page of the local newspaper…..all the rain put a dampener on the proceedings a little - and yes I know being British means I should be used to it but still - after a brief wander around the city it was out for dinner and lots of staying warm and dry in the shopping malls. I’m sure there’s lots to see and do in Santiago that I missed, but I’ll just have to come back another time when it’s slightly less wet.
Thankfully by the time we left Santiago the weather had cleared up back into the beautifully sunshiny days we’ve been used to, thankfully as for the next week or so its lots of camping and outdoor cooking which would be pretty ,miserable in the rain. From Santiago we headed south to Pucon stopping along the way to camp overnight alongside the beautiful Saltos del Laja waterfalls
After a night by the falls, sitting drinking wine around another campfire we continued on to the mountain town of Pucon. Pucon’s a beautiful little town, wandering around it you’d be forgiven for thinking you were somewhere in the alps rather than South America, it’s all wooden chalets, chocolate shops and ski hire places. We set up camp just outside of town at a gorgeous little riverside campsite; wandering into town it was easy to pass hours just sitting and watching the world go by whilst drinking hot chocolates and planning our next adventure.
The town of Pucon is dominated by the volcano – Villarrica
– one of Chile’s most active, unfortunately the weather and the slight foot injury picked up on the ranch stopped me from climbing it, those that attempted it were turned back half way due to poor visibility, instead we pulled on some wetsuits and spent the first full day in Pucon white water rafting. Because of the rains the river was swollen, the grading increased and even some sections of it closed as they were too rough…. The rapids were a lot of fun and whilst it was freezing cold that didn’t
stop us voluntarily jumping in for a splash around half way down the river.
The following day the rains caught us again, putting a stop to any other adventure plans; instead we hired a 6 seater bike and explored the town.
From Pucon we crossed the border to spend Christmas in the Argentine town of Bariloche. After the rain and the cold and wet camping conditions of the last week checking into the Los Coihues
hostel in Bariloche was uplifting, the hostel was a sprawling mass of wooden buildings spread out over a beautiful woodland area, the hostel was warm and inviting and we received a really friendly welcome from the owners. From Christmas eve through to Boxing day we had an amazing time.
Between the 6 of us we’d organised stockings with silly toys, games and chocolate to give us something to open, so Christmas morning started with champagne and stocking opening, wasted the morning playing cricket indoors, cooked Christmas dinner for 25 people during the afternoon and ended the evening sat around a campfire eating marshmallows and drinking rum, not a conventional Christmas day but lots of fun nevertheless.
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