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Published: January 27th 2011
All aboard the bus.. early rise in Valparasio to catch the 6.30 bus back to Santiago to meet up with the Pacamama tour for 9am which we will be with for the next 2 days. Ivan who is from Villarrica will be our guide along with Daniel the driver, we are also joined by 3 Aussies (Ryan, Lisa, Ali) 2 Germans (Lars, Claudia) and 1 Irish (Lisa). First stop is the tiny town of Pomaire to allow us the chance to see a true traditional Chilean town where they sell lots of pots! Would be great to purchase but too heavy for our already overladen rucksacks. Then onto Pichilemu, which is a small, sleepy surf town. We arrive at our multi-coloured hostel (Hostel Bahia)and head out to the beach to kick back on the sand.The plan was to do a bit of horse riding but after Ivan tells us that the horses are 'very sad' we decide to pass. Hopefully happy horses beckon in Uruguay... We drive to Los Lobos to watch a disappointing sunset hidden behind cloud - however fun is found through chatting with new friends and drinking whisky and wine! After a game of charades
Emily guesses from the owner that the mystery meat is turkey (and pork belly and sausage) and we have a lovely slap up meal. The best news (for Simon) is that the room, dinner and breakfast costs 21,000 pesos (£28)!
Today is a loooong drive to Pucon. On the way we stop at Santa Cruz to see a museum which is consideed to be one of the best in the whole of Chile. The museum is basically an amazing private collection of Carlos Cardoen (who the Rough Guide refers to as the 'king of cluster bombs'). Then on and on and on and on (14 hours) on the bus until we reach Pucon at 11pm.
We meet up with Ivan and a few people from the tour to go to Cani, which is a pristine forest sanctuary (the land was bought by a few backpackers in order to save the trees from their fate of being burned down). Ivan leaves us with a hand drawn map (Emily was worried - but the trails were very clear) to go and talk to someone about buying land, which he wants to turn into an eco retreat
complete with mushroom shaped houses (the guy is a big fan of shrooms). The hike is a steep climb up to 1,100 metres through the most beautiful scenery including lakes, meadows and forest. Like boy scouts we are super prepared and have lots ofsuncream and mozzie repellent (considering there are loads of them we only get 1 bite each - result!)- which we happily share between the group. The word Cani comes from the mapuche word meaning 'transforming vision' - and the place certainly has a great effect on everyone ' the Cani effect' as described by Ivan comes true. The view from the top is worth every drip of sweat spent getting there as we have a full 360 panoramic view of 3 volcanos in the area! We have a picnic at the top and start our descent, which is much quicker (2 hours compared to 4 getting up) but harder on the ol knees. After 14km we are delighted to be told by Ivan that we can get homemade ice cream from a woman's house near the bus stop - Claudia from our group even says she would 'run for it'!
We make a short stop in
Pucon (for showers and to inhale a burger) beore getting off to the hot springs outside Pucon. Although the steps to get to them almost break us, it is worth it... 6 baths of natural hot water (with no eggy smell like other springs) and a freezing running river to dip in and out of in between hot soaks. The springs are guarded by a woman who seems to disapprove of fun (no drinking, no swimming, only 15 mins in a pool at one time, keep control of children etc.) but we manage with the help of our lawyer friend Ali to find a loophole and 'chug' our beers in the river a few metres from the springs! We get back to Pucon at 12.30 and hit the hay. We are staying in Pucon for a further 4 days and plan to climb the volano (as pictured) so watch this space...
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