After spending way too long in Santiago, we were finally ready to leave and explore this wonderful country with our Toyota 4Runner called ‘Forrest’. In Santiago our car has been converted into a house on wheels. This means that inside our car, we now have a bed with lots of storage underneath, two fridges and a kitchen box. Unfortunately, the conversion is still not ready. While I am typing this blog, Rob is making big improvements on the kitchen box to use the space more efficiently. So in one our next blog we hope to show you more pictures of our new friend Forrest.
In the meanwhile, we already visited some gorgeous places. Due to Covid, campings are closed inside all the National Parks, but in part thanks to the app iOverlander wild camping places are everywhere. In this app everybody can add places such as good spots to stay overnight, beautiful viewpoints or handy stores. Our first stop was NP Altos de Lircay. In this park there are some nice trails into the forest with lots of viewpoints of the mountains. Here I almost stepped on my first Tarantula. Luckily Rob said: “Look! a Tarantula” 😊, just in time before I almost accidentally crushed it.
Our next stop was Termas de Chillán. Well, we didn’t really go to the termas, because it looks like a normal swimming pool like you would have back home. The only difference being that the water was heated naturally. Instead of going to the hot springs, we made our own hot shower with our shower bags. How it works? You just put 20 litres of river water in this bag and you let it warm up in the sun for about 3 hours (for example on your car, see the picture beneath). Then you hang it up high in a tree (or at least Rob does 😊) and then you start your nature shower. The water was really warm, almost hot even! It was even better than the shower we got in the hostel in Santiago. Yes, we really loved this place. We had a relaxing camping spot next to a small river stream with a beautiful view of the Volcano Chillán. The first time we saw the volcano it was smoking a little bit. Normally we are fiercely against smoking, but this time we were happy that it was doing that. Later in the evening, Rob made a campfire and I made some dinner. We enjoyed the warmth of the fire and the view of the volcano that was now a bit more active. Every 15 minutes a big cloud came out of the volcano (“we get it, you vape”). Incredible to see, but it gets better! After a while, the volcano was erupting and we saw lava!! We were happy we didn’t go to bed early this night, because we already slept through an earthquake with a magnitude of 5.7 in Santiago (according to the owner of the hostel the house was shaking for 20 seconds… we must have been tired indeed!).
The next place we visited was Pucón. Again, we found a beautiful spot nearby the Volcano Villarrica. This one was not really active, but the view of the volcano and the Villarrica lake was incredible and we were the only people sleeping there. In Pucón we took some time to relax, buy some things for the car and eat some local food. In the evening we drove around to spot mammals with our flashlights and our Lahoux Spotter Elite 35V (see also our partnership with Lahoux). We saw two Andean Foxes and lots of introduced European Rabbits and European Hares. Also, the night sky was amazing here!!
After Pucón we went to Puyehue NP. It is a free National Park, with again paid swimming pools. We started with a small trail that was passing the river. The river bed was made of stones and pebbles with in between small pools of steaming water. We tried to feel the water and it was actually really nice and warm. We decided to come back in the evening and take a bath during sunset. We were not the only ones with this great idea, because some pools were already taken by Chileans. But soon they left and we had the natural hot tubs to ourselves. It was a really amazing experience! If the water was too cold, we just dug deeper and it got warmer. Or you could let in freezing cold water from the river to make it less hot. With our Water-to-Go bottles we could drink the cold water from the river while we stayed in the warm water for hours. During our bathing time, we even saw a Ringed Kingfisher, Green-backed Firecrowns (a species of hummingbird) and Slender-billed Parakeets flying by. What a great experience!
After Puyehue we drove further south to Puerto Montt with our great car. We are very happy we chose this SUV, because it drives really well and we make quite a lot of kilometres. Luckily, the gasoline is less expensive here than in the Netherlands 😉 (about 1,20€ a litre). We know not driving would be even better, but we believe tourism (if done in the right way) can give value to nature areas for locals (think of guiding jobs, park rangers, restaurants etc.). Let people see that animals are worth more alive, and forest can give income by keeping instead of slash-and-burning it. After our World Travel we are going to compensate the CO2-emissions of all the kilometres we drove with Greenseat. This is a company that ‘offsets’ the CO2-emissions with different projects that aim to improve the standard of living in developing countries while reducing CO2-emissions over there. This for example by giving better cooking ovens, which require less firewood (less CO2) and also helps preserving the forest around these communities because of this. Better alternatives are always welcome, let us know if you have some :)
We just made the crossing to the island Chiloé in the southwest of Chile. Here we hope to see many mammals, as this place is a haven for them! More on that in our next blog!
If you’re interested in more details of the places, birds and mammals, visit our trip reports page for the trip report of Central Chile.