2017-05-25 Day 39

A frosty morning. The plan is to head north and west to a parque that has a spot where you can sea both the Pacific Ocean and the Andes.

Easier said than done! We ended up in a pine forest and had two very tight U turns to do when the road got beyond “fun”. Finally ended up on a good road which took us back to a road on our map and an open gate.

We turned up a hill which went up and up and up. At about 1100m we got fantastic views of the volcanoes of the Andes. Stopped and took some photos. Continued to the park and paid our entrance fee and camping fee. Drove into the camping area and promptly went sideways on the mud. Out again and up to the lookout.

More of these wonderful Monkey puzzle trees.

A very lovely area on some bigs rocks. Great to see both the Andes and the Ocean at the same time. There are not many countries that you can see all the way across it.

This is the highest point we have driven on this trip 1390 m.

Stayed in the car park for the night.

Monkey Puzzle Trees.

The Araucaria are magnificent.

We first encountered Araucaria in Parque Villarrica and again in Parque Nahuelbuta. I felt like a kid again; with all of the open mouthed wonderment of discovering something entirely new. But the Araucaria is rather like a platypus; seemingly assembled from a bizarre assortment of parts, but entirely new and fascinating as a whole.

The Araucaria has a trunk as straight and tall as the New Zealand Kauri, though not so massive a girth. The age of these trees also rival the Kauri but the tuft of green at the top is rather more ferocious.

At regular intervals, four or five snake-like branches sprout from the trunk, wending outwards and upwards like Medusa on a bad hair day (replete with split ends). Each cylindrical branch is in fact a profusion of flat green radial spines. 

From a distance, the Araucaria resembles a long slender toadstool. From beneath, the canopy is like a palm at first glance. The bark however, is something else again. On the larger trees, the bark breaks into irregular plates with deep fissures, rather like dried mud, or the bark of a cork tree. The bark lends fire resistance to the tree's survival arsenal in the vicinity of volcanoes

2017-05-24 Day 38

What a wonderful view to wake up to. The lava was pretty amazing chunks of all sizes.

We wanted to drive further in to a lake but the snow/ice was a bit to slippery, so we parked by a semi frozen small lake and did a bit of maintenance & hung the last of the damp washing out to dry.

After lunch we tried the slippery road again and made it up. The drive was neat and on the other side we were in a “trench” higher than the earth cruiser no getting out of that!

The lake was not very impressive so had a quick walk and headed out the way we had come in.

West towards the ocean then on the west side of Ruta 5 headed north to find a camp beside the road on a slight rise. Beautiful farming area and the land all freshly sewn. A nice view of the rolling paddocks.

2017-05-23 Day 37

Left in the dark and probably early as we still do not know which time is correct. The time on the Computer or phone?

A foggy and concerning drive for John. Lots of people moving about on the road in dark clothing, even trying to stop us at bus stops (we must look like their buses in the fog).
Arrived one hour early so at least we now know that the computer time is correct. Chile must have gone onto/off day light savings as we are now 14 hours behind Australia.

Kaufmann where I had booked the service is a big joint. The immaculate workshop had about 20 hoists. We had a long day sitting on their couch. We were invited to lunch in their canteen and had access to coffee and WiFi. We eventually ran out of power on all devices. The General manager who is a grandson of the original founder, Mr Kaufmann, visited us and asked if we’d been well looked after.
Finally got EC back. They did not have a suitable shock for replacement but said they’d find out where we can get one. About A$800 later and around 5.30pm we drove out.

One hour of daylight left and a fast trip back east. Finally found a viewing spot in the dark. The sign indicated we were at the end of an old lava flow with a good view of the volcano, oh and by the way the volcano is at amber alert!!!

2017-05-22 Day 36

A little light rain during the night The Drivers door was frozen shut. -0.4 We drove out only to realise we hadn't taken a camp photo so back we went and got a photo with the fresh snow on the mountains.

Quite a bit of ice on puddles and the bridges were very icy. We got Internet at a little hamlet and an email saying that EC is booked in for service at 0900 tomorrow.

Decided not to go further inland as the pass was at 1400m and Anneshka was worried about the snow depth. Drove along a few lakes and finally found an early camp right at the waters edge.

Did the washing that’d been soaking since Thursday and hung it up.

Pumped up the kayak and had a paddle up the lake and back.  We got to see the houses that were below the road and locked gates. Packed the kayak and vehicle ready for an early morning start.

2017-05-21 Day 35

We are still unsure of the time here. Our computers give us one time and our phones give us one hour later.

Left to go to the thermal pool. When we discovered they were A$30 each we drove past to the National Reserve. The trees were amazing.

They are about 1000 years old and only have a tuft of branches at the top, a bit like a palm tree. We got out and walked up the road in wonder. Arrived at the park and the guard was not there. Decided to do a short 30 min walk.

These neat looking trees are Araucaria, and a protected species. This Conifer can grow up to 50 meters tall and its cylindrical very straight trunk can grow to 2 m in diameter. Its growth is very slow and can reach and ancient age. This species is characterised by the fact that only the female produces seeds known as pinones. Their bark is very thick and can withstand fire, which explains why the species are associated with active volcanoes.

After the short walk the guard was in his office/house and we asked about the volcano lookout walk. Park entry was 2500peso each, about A$5

The walk was after a 1km drive into the park and then a 3km walk UP and back. John went ahead as he is a much stronger walker. Absolutely wonderful walk. Got up into the snow then above the tree line. Then finally out the lookout. A very special place.

As we got back to EC we realised the road was signposted as a through road. We asked some people going back the way we’d come to tell the guard we’d driven on.

Three 4x4 had just come through the track so we knew it was passable. We got to 1300m altitude and into the snow for a short while. Down and out the other side before finding a place to camp. The forecast is for another -3 night so probably more snow.

2017-05-20 Day 34

Decided to get some Northing done. Drove through a very productive farming area. Lots happening and the folk seemed friendly waving and smiling.

Both horses and the bullock are still in use in some of the areas we have been through. 

We did come to a few dead ends today but still made some miles North.

Our camp tonight was at one end of the town on the beach with lovely black sand. We put the awning out for the first time and sat under it in the light drizzle, till the cold chased us inside to the heater.

We have had cold forecasts but it doesn’t seem to read on our thermometers, we seem to be a couple of degrees above the forecast.

2017-05-19 Day 33

John had some emails to send and I decided to pull the stove apart. At least it was dry if a bit rocky outside under the vehicle. Pulled the stove completely apart cleaned it and put it all back together. Did not find anything amiss.

It worked! and we both got a hot cup of tea in the one starting of the stove.

A gorgeous sunny day so decided to stay and wash sheets and do some more maintenance on the vehicle. Oh and to sit in the sun and read.

The stove did not work for afternoon tea. Took about 6 runs to get the water hot. :-(

The clunk we hear under the front when driving rough roads is a worn bush on the shock. Again. That may be tomorrows job along with the steps that don’t want to go up or down very quickly.

I got the macro lens out and had a play with it. You can see some results here.

Climbed into nice clean sheets after a hot shower.

2017-05-18 Day 32

A little rain in the night and down to 3.8°C. Managed to heat water for a cup of tea in multi stages. We’ll do some miles today and fill up to dilute the “bad” fuel.

The 68km drive to our other campsite was fantastic. Beautiful sunny day and clear. Got a look at the mountains that we had only imagined were there last time in this area. 

We believe we saw some frost still sitting in the shade. The land we drove through today looks to be the best farming we have seen so far. Very organised and well maintained farms. A lot of them dairy farms. The farming style reminded us both of being in NZ.

Drove into Puerto Montt (again) to get mail. I dropped John off and did a long lap then double parked outside the Post Office to wait. The street was very quiet so I was not moved on. No mail another 5 days! It is still in Santiago. John asked that the parcel stay in Santiago so we will try again there.

Drove north on the highway to Largo Ranco filled with fuel and found a camp spot on the lake. We are just 60km north west of yesterdays border crossing.

Parque Pumalin

Parque Pumalin is exceptional.  It is the most tastefully developed Park that I have ever encountered.

When we first encountered Pumalin it was in what I expect is it's natural state; steady rain. The water was cascading off the towering rocky peaks in spectacular fashion, and scarcely delayed in the impenetrable green before returning to the remarkable calm ocean. To see the Park in a downpour must be something to behold.

We entered via ferry and traversed the length of Pumalin by the sole road. From time to time the solid walls of greenery on either side of the road were interrupted by an invitation to a short walk or camp ground. Each of these entrances was announced by a timber sign or portal of generous and commanding proportion.
The trails that we walked followed a meandering path thru mesmerising forestry, each to a fascinating destination. The paths themselves were tactfully maintained somewhere between scrub-bash and tourist highway; allowing a sense of isolation, freedom and discovery.

My favourite walk was the 600m climb to the rim of Volcan Chiaten. After having lain dormant for 9000 years, this volcano burped in 2008. The resulting devastation was attested to nine years later by a  forrest of skeletons still towering above the subsequent undergrowth. The trail began on the flats, crossing a clear stream in an upended riverbed, before climbing increasingly steeply towards occasional glimpses of the still smoking summit. The gigantic skeletons were not so much burnt as simply smashed. Only the most sturdy trunks remained upright after the onslaught. As we climbed, the undergrowth thinned to rubble and only a few sentinels stood over the heaps of ancient timber in violent ruin. The smoking inner cone loomed into view as we crested the scorched volcanic lip. Between our vantage and the cone was a vast moat of dried mud and thermal lakes. Somehow the whole scene defied any visual sense of scale. The low rhythm of an approaching platoon of Orcs seemed imminent. In the end, the weather chased us off the slopes far too soon.

The architecture and presentation of the Pumalin camp-grounds was inspirational. We saw beautiful, simple, octagonal timber shelters poised on the water's edge, and nestled in their own private shroud of vegetation. There were paths, steps, edged lawns, rubbish bins, toilet blocks and parking spaces all beautifully integrated with the native surrounds. There was a sense that the elven lights would wink on at night, one by one, after stomachs were filled, and company mellowed.

2017-05-17 Day 31

A wet morning and no cup of tea! The stove was playing up. We considered that the problem could be fuel, as yesterday for the first time we were offered a choice in diesel. We chose the cheaper one but didn’t know how they differed. But on investigation of the flashing lights the combustion air fan was the problem. So we pulled the stove out of the bench and undid the exhaust hoses from outside (in the rain) . Meanwhile the heater decided it would stop working too!

We did find a wire on the combustion fan in the cooker that was faulty so we soldered on a new one. And put it all back together. But not our day now the overheating light comes on. Could it be the diesel?

When the rain cleared up and the clouds lifted we realised it had snowed in the night and there was a very distinctive line to the lower altitude of snow.

Too wet really to walk especially with no way to dry clothes, heat us or heat food. So we decided to head over to Chile where it should be a bit warmer, and use some diesel. We still think diesel quality may be an issue so if we can top the tank up with good diesel it may alleviate the problem.

WE came upon the Argentina border station about 15 k’s East of the boarder at 800m altitude. Very interesting process. We got a ticket at a box about 50 m before the offices. We had to both get out and go in to clear out of Argentina. Our piece of paper recieved earlier got a stamp at each office then we were free to go. Handing in the sheet of paper 50 m further up the road.

15km’s up to the border and the snow is looking very low. Border is at 1363m Altitude. We encountered snow and at one stage it did snow a little. Had to get out and take a picture of EC in the snow!

Down the other side another 20km’s to the Chilean border control station. We stopped 300 m short and ate an avocado, a pear and the rest of the yogurt. The Immigration & customs used the same system as Argentina but the sheet we got needed 5 stamps instead of 3. We lost most of the fresh food we thought we would, although they let us keep the cheese and butter. The only thing I had over looked was cooking the eggs last night, so we lost those. All in all no surprises. It also helped that most of our packeted food originated in Chile. The stews and soups were all OK which was great.

We wanted to get some diesel burned to put more in, so we hiked it down to lake Llanquthue and camped on the sand. We are on the opposite shore to camp 2017-04-26 and some 68km’s away.

The heater is working and the stove top cuts out every 5 mins or so. We did get some soup heated for dinner.

2017-05-16 Day 30

We had been concerned last night of being moved on. A vehicle arrived about 6am and parked on the opposite side of road by a river. John thought they were fisherman. Later he discovered they were Parques officers one of which was away in the bush. We assumed they were there to catch illegal fisherman not to keep an eye on us.

Drove north to Villa La Angostura on the same lake 60 odd km's away. These lakes are big! Within this National park is another national park. Which is almost an island but still connected by a narrow neck of land. We had a short walk up to the lookouts although drizzling on and off the view was great especially out to the NE. We got back to the vehicle to find someone had written on the SA map. They had written the Argentina name for the Falklands and indicated it belonged to Argentina. We erased the writing then continued our trip north.

We had planned on camping in the free camping area but no motor homes allowed. There was no-one else there but decided to do the right thing and move on. The views are spectacular with the lakes and mountains.

Finally camped in the corner of a lookout over the northern reaches of lake Nahuel Huapi.
I cooked up all the spare apples and also cooked the veges and chicken into a big soup so hopefully we will not loose it at the border. While I was cooking this John read up about the history of the Falklands.

2017-05-15 Day 29

John drove us back to El Bolson for me to see if my card was in the bank.

The bank was full so went in with my phone ready to read what I needed to say. The guard promptly shooed me out as obviously one is not to use one's phone in a bank!

I called the guard out to the foyer where the ATM’s are and explained in my poor Spanish that on Friday I left my card in the machine. He just asked for my passport and disappeared in behind a locked door. 5 mins later he came back with my card and a photocopy of card and passport which I duly signed and left. So much easier than cancelling and getting another one sent.

I asked the lady in the Tourist info shop to help me with my phone, she managed to get it organised with data so John was able to send his emails.

Drove North again. I must say that today it is more pretty than on Friday when we drove up. Friday night we had a light dusting of snow on the mountains.

Arrived into San Carlos De Bariloche which is a ski town. On the drive in there were lots of shanty towns which surprised us as we had the impression that this would be a wealthy town.

Parques informed us that because of the wind all the walks were closed. Well I guess we’d already seen some of the park over the last few days.

We drove to the base of the ski tows but no snow yet and then the hunt for a camp. It took longer than usual tonight but we did see some pretty amazing houses next to the lake. Just as we had back tracked a little to a possible camp site a police car drove slowly past with lights flashing did a U-turn and drove away slowly.

We set up camp on the side of a rode behind a guard rail. Beautiful view of lake Nahuel Huapi. Forecast -4°C tonight so we got the quilt out and put it on the doona.

2017-05-14 Day 28

A wet night again. Did some repairs to the shovel and drove further into the park. We were trying to get to a glacier. The road as usual full of potholes and the going slow. 

John understood the Gendarme to tell us to be out within 5 hours. So we drove to the glacier and had a quick look in the rain and continued to the end of the road where the long walk to another glacier starts. It had snowed over night and all the hills had a coating, they looked pretty when touched by the shy sun. We decided to drive out and find a camp closer to the main road so our trip back to El Bolson would be shorter tomorrow.

However at the Gendarme station a very angry guard came out telling us to stop. Among much discussion we realised the sign we had tried so hard to understand yesterday related to the times you could drive in or out of the park or both.

We were stuck for another 4 hours till we could travel out on the road.

2017-05-13 Day 27

We arrived for breaky at 9 and I ended up poaching eggs as Ursula was not sure how to. John made a google map with points of interest for their trip. A great couple; hope our paths cross again.

We did learn why all the camp grounds are closed camping/tourist season is Dec 28th through to Feb 28th!!

Travelled out of town a little further to find our insurance papers. Found the farm and Claudia bottling Apple juice. We did a load of washing but decided not to stay the night. Another couple from Germany were in a “Truck” A 9 ton Mercedes with a steel 3 to 4 m container on the back. Fitted out for two. An indestructible machine.

We drove north to Lago Mascardi and filled with fuel. I discovered that I had mislaid my visa card. But being Saturday evening nothing to be done.

We continued out into the National Reserve and found a place to camp just on dusk. All the camp grounds are locked. Wonderful pork chops and apple (picked off the side of the road) for dinner.

2017-05-12 Day 26

This is the day we said we’d be at Claudia and Klaus to pick up our insurance papers. So Kayak got packed up and we drove to El Bolston.

First money. The first bank we tried would give a balance but no cash so off to the other one.Just happened to park beside the tourist Info office so dropped in to ask about banks and where to buy a sim card or “chip”, and where the walks are. They also took our details to write on their form.

Luckily the second (and last) bank gave us some money. We bought a few things from the supermarket. I am slowly learning how to buy meat. I saw a lady get mince so read the label and actual read the signs at the “butchers window” So I asked for good steak and he chose a lump of meat and deftly cut two thin slices. Then I asked for 1 kilo of little meat and got mince then I spied a chunk of pork and got two chops band sawed off. Both the pork and lamb were still partly frozen in quarters.

We spied a restaurant with WiFi and decided to have lunch; half a pizza and a beer. We got most of the updates done on our machines. John went back to the truck for something and didn’t come back so I paid and went to find him. He was chatting with a guy. This guy had sat and waited for us to turn up. He and his wife are flying to Australia on Monday for a month long camper van trip up the middle from Melbourne to Darwin. He invited us home for a cup of tea so after wondering the shops for another hour we met up and followed him home.

Miguel & Ursula have run a camping ground just north of El Boston for the last 30 years and have just retired. Ursula is Swiss. They have travelled a lot. We had a wonderful cup of tea or two, then moved on to a bottle of red and some snacks. Ended up spending the night in their ex-camp ground near the river; site #39.

2017-05-11 Day 25

Dropped into park office to find that all but 3 walks were closed. The lakes that we stayed at last night and the ones travelled along side today all feed into the hydro dam. Went for a quick walk to a water fall. They certainly differ in size on this side of the Andes; the ones in Chile were larger and they were everywhere.

Stopped in at Lago Verde and walked across the foot bridge. There was a sign alerting us to the behaviour we should do if we see a Puma. Alas no sighting. Walked along the lake shore for 100 m to a lookout point. Back up to the vehicle and I’d done enough walking for today.

As with Chile a lot of the camping area’s are closed and locked. Which does make it more difficult to find a camp site. All the restaurants in the park and cabins are also closed. It must be overrun in the summer. Maybe we’ll find out on our way up next January.

Finally found a camp in a free camp area. Down by the lake. We launched the kayak and paddled across the lake about 2.5k's along the shore for awhile then back.

EC has developed a squeak so out came the grease gun to fix it. It is one that has no handle and you push the barrel in towards the nipple. This was hard work and John only managed the first 10 or so. The others can wait for tomorrow. EC does need a service in 1500k’s.

2017-05-10 Day 24

Drove back through the town and up to the boarder. Cleared Chile very easily and quickly. Once we had the right paperwork and they accepted the registration paper we got into Argentina easily as well.

We think the clock goes forward an hour now and we do need some cash.

By the posters at the Chile office we cannot take back into Chile meats, milk, cheeses, yogurt, and honey. There were other articles like wood and hide etc but we don’t carry any of those. 

Drove up to the hydro power station and had a look and drive around. Had lunch next to the electro-hydro compensator tank; designed to damp variations in the turbine water pressure. It was 62 m high and 20 m in diameter.

We didn't find anywhere above a 2** camp so we left. We found a reasonable supermarket in Trevelin but no ATM inside. We finally tracked down the only ATM’s and although they would give us a balance, they would not hand out any cash.

We bravely decided to go and buy a couple of bottles of red at the supermarket to see if the visa would be accepted. Yes it was accepted so we did a shop of a few items and then headed to the national reserve at Futalauquen. We found a reasonable camp at 7 just on dusk.

Although there was no apparent breeze, the lake lapped gently on the beach all night.

Argentina on first impressions seems dryer than the Chilean side of the Andes. Also we noticed the quality of the vehicles has dropped remarkably but we did see a couple of people running, 20 out walking and on the long uphill on leaving town another 10 cyclists all with the right clothing and on mountain-bikes. John estimated the bikes were worth more than a lot of the cars we saw.

2017-05-09 Day 23

We drove into futaleufu and got a map and some info about walks from the info centre. The man needed to register us and asked among other things our age and how long we’d be in town. Well John replied depends on the information you give us abut the walks

A very cold morning of 2 degrees. After finding the first photocopy shop closed, we got directions to another. We drove to that one as I was getting cold.

With the photocopies done ready for the border we drove out to the parque headquarters to go for a walk up to a look out. The lookout, as most are, was up a 5.6k’s 3 hours walk with 350 vertical metres. The first lookout was Mirador El Piedrero and the second was Mirador El Condor. By the time I got back to the beginning I had rather tired and sore knees

We then drove up another road hoping to find a nice view for the night. Wasn’t to be. But it was a beautiful drive up in the hills with the odd hut visible. A lot of wood collection obviously goes on here. We drove off the end of the map and continued for a while. The road was very rough with potholes. Just as we decided to turn back we came across a SWB tip truck full of wood. It wasn’t bogged but had no traction on the left rear wheel. However they declined our help and we headed back to the River to camp on the opposite side to last night and a bit closer to Town. We had internet so I could communicate with my siblings Re: the sale of the Hutton Estate.

This section of the river Espolon had a branch in the middle and it had a noise like a yacht slicing through the calm sea.

2017-05-08 Day 22

We drove back to the Pumalin Park ranger station. The station was as well designed as the parks have been and all the workers boots were in the foyer and they were walking around on carpet!
The walk we wanted to do to the glacier was closed as the river crossings were too high. However another couple of walks were still open.

We drove into the park after moving the closed sign. A small aeroplane landed beside us on the grass strip. Another immaculately kept parque. The walk (Darwin’s Frog) was relatively flat and was a loop of about 3.5 K’s it took us about 75 mins. Some nice views and lots of river crossings. Certainly lots of water in this part of Chile at the moment.

Drove further south and then East towards Futalaufu the last town before Argentina and camped on the side of river Espolon, between rose bushes covered in hips,  just before the township of Futaleufu. This part of the river was quiet but moving very fast.

2017-05-07 Day 21

I have not been so close to an active volcano before. All the big trees are dead. A lot still standing. We assume the volcano killed them when it erupted in 2009 but they didn't burn so not sure the exact cause.

We got to the crater edge and the Plug was about 1km in front of us steaming away. Fascinating. John was waiting for a platoon of Orcs to march around the corner.

We had problems with depth of field with the mud in the bottom and the distance to the "plug". In this photo john is standing 1K from the plug and about 100m above the valley of mud. It is quiet deceiving. The air was cold and crisply clear which may have been the cause as well as the like colors.

We would have stayed a bit longer but the wind was chilling our fingers quite a bit. Hard walk down for my knees.
We drove all of another 30k’s to El Amarillo to find the hot springs. Drove past to find the second lot but they didn’t seem to exist. Camped beside a very active river. Raining gently again.

2017-05-06 Day 20

We continued our drive to Chaiten. Stopped at a 12 k walk and as there was a bit of sunshine decided on at least starting the walk. It was a great walk through lots of wet drippy bush. It started to rain after 1.5 hours so we headed back to EC.
One of the interesting birds we saw was the wood pecker. A funny looking bird with a tuft of hair and very large feet.

Drove on a bit further and saw another walk this one up to Volcan Chaiten. This volcano erupted in 2008 May 2 after 9000 years of dormancy. A group of 3 hitchhikers were having lunch then going up. We decided tomorrow would be a good idea for the walk

Camped for the night on the beach at Santa Barbara. The dolphins were in working the fish by the beach. We gather it is a regular occurrence

2017-05-05 Day 19

An earlyish start, left camp at 08.30, although light the sun was still 15 mins away. Had paved road for a ways then when we were back on the main road it returned to dirt and potholes.
Arrived at Hornopiren about 09.10 and paid for our Next two ferries. We needed Passports, rego papers and $51.000 (A$100) for tickets. The lady came out with a tape measure and measured EC’s length.

The Ferry was only about half full. We have been lucky with the clouds lifting a little so we can see the mountain tops. Drizzling on and off.
A very beautiful place. Can occasional see glaciers when the cloud cover lifts a little.
Spoke to a Canadian who was riding from Canada down to Tierra del Fuego

We disembarked from this ferry and drove in convoy across to the other ferry. A distance of 10k, the road was narrow with bush right to the edges. For some reason there was a feeling of urgency in the cavalcade. 

The second ferry was somewhat smaller and we did not all quite fit on. John feels that with great tetras skills it could be done. However, we left two trucks behind and steamed through the rain to our next landing. 

We stopped at one of the walks and the Canadian rode up. He’d come for the walk with us. It was a walk of only 700 m one way to see old Alerce trees. A great walk in the rain. Mark was already so wet that he just strode through the puddles. He was off to find a dry bed in Chitan and we were going to find a camp by the lake.

Mark informed us that these parks called Pumalin were developed by a very rich American. The parks and the camping grounds are almost resort quality and very well maintained.

One of the camps we went into had another short walk to Lago Rio Nigro (Black River Lake). The walk was very wet and in the end we took our boots off and went barefoot. The view of the lake was well worth the walk. For some reason on the way back the water was much colder and as soon as possible we put our boots back on.

We continued to Lago Rio Blanco and found a campsite. They are beautifully set up with small pavilions with seats, right next to the lake. You can pitch your tent inside or at least have somewhere dry to sit.

2017-05-04 Day 18

3 jobs on the agenda this morning, Fuel, water and Internet, then south for the ferry.

We headed back up to the north of Puerto Montt looking for a large service station as they normally have water. We fueled up and fueled our phones but the hose outlet was not within our reach.

We decided we could manage without the other water tank full. Could of course just put a bucket outside and collect our own…..

We diverted about 7 k’s into a national reserve which was advertised as having some walks. The road was good but slowly eroding where water from blocked gutters and drains poured over the road.

We walked around the park entrance looking at the signage to choose a walk. When we got to the entrance the park ranger yelled at us from his cosy house indicating we could not enter. We walked over to him and he said "park closed because of the water". We left feeling quite disappointed.

Caught the ferry from La Arena to Puelche. $15000 (A$30) for 35mins. 

Following the coastal road south we discovered the boat building center of the region. Every second shed housed a boat frame in different stages of undress. In some cases the boats size looked like it had been restricted by the size of the shed. Some sheds were simply sheets of tin held up by poles to keep the boat dry.

We camped on the foreshore and had afternoon tea. After consulting with the “witch” and realizing we needed to be at the Ferry at 09.30 in the morning we decided to do some more driving now in daylight. Set up camp again on foreshore and defrosted some chicken legs for dinner.

2017-05-03 Day 17

John had the camp site already marked on the map. We had a half hour wait for the ferry and although small was ample big enough for EC. However when we arrived at the camp site it was not suitable, so we decided to head through Puerto Montt and camp on the other side after checking the PO for Johns glasses.

I duly threw John out at the Post Office with his passport. I was going to drive a square as there was no parking. First two corners went well however the third was a no right turn so off exploring I went. Luckily the “Witch” was still taking me to the PO so after a while I was able to follow her directions back to John.  This was our first real trial with our walkie talkies which worked really well.

Found a spot for the night on the harbor to the East of Puerto Montt. Where the Internet connection was good.

I was going to have a sleep to prepare for meetings tonight but instead we decided to go ask about ferry tickets. Long story short, we ended up way up at the top of town so decided to shop first. We got all we wanted and then went to the port only to find out that we can buy the ferry tickets we need, at the ferry terminals. All good.

Back to camp site. First meeting went well and at the beginning of second one, about midnight the internet stopped. We assumed we had used John's quota. So off to bed.

2017-05-02 Day 16

A slow morning. There was good internet connection so I got down to actual publishing the blogs I'd written..... Still raining.

I cooked oat cakes for my breaky and Johns second breaky. Thery were ok but the Baking Powder is a little different than what I am used to.

After a lunch of leftovers we drove all of 15k's to another beach where there was less salt spray to hang our washing up.

We spent some time looking into our intermittent problem of the aft starboard lid lifter not working. Came to the conclusion it must be wiring but where?

Had a walk along the beach. Lots and lots of crab shellls. A bit quieter here as it is not quite open water.

Cooked up a soup from smoked bones we bought the other day in the pressure cooker.  The pressure cooker is working well and only takes a fraction of the time of boiling and there is no steam in the cabin.

Washing is nearly all dry

2017-05-01 day 15

A dry morning but overcast. Pulled the kayak out from under EC and paddled down to the end of the lake and back, probably a 3 k paddle. Still amazed at how well the kayak handles.
Washed the other lot of washing and then drove north to the ferry. Stopped at Castro to do a shop but everything was closed, managed to buy some fruit.

Pulled into into the wharf area at Ancud but our mussel lady was closed and had to settle on enpanadas for lunch. An enpanada is a flat folded pastry with filling.

Caught the vehicle ferry back to the mainland, this time we had visibility. We could see 8 car ferry’s, there are two ramps on the island and 3 on the mainland. They seem to take turns… We saw a seal in the ferry's wake.

Turned left and headed out to the beach. Found a little shop open and bought a white and red.
Very windy on beach with lots of visitors.
The walk along the beach netted us only two of the plastic round things we found on an earlier beach. I guess they the two beaches are not that far apart and both facing out to open waters.

The maps on EC's sides attracted a couple of family’s and we had a chat with them. More rain. Everyone cleared out on dark and we were left to the elements, blowing a steady 35k's gusts up to 45 k's and with forecast gusts up to 65 k's during the night.

2017-04-30 day 14

We drove out to a nature reserve hoping for a walk. We have only found a few walks so far. We came to a bridge with a 5 ton limit just before the park office, so walked up to have a chat with the Ranger. $7000 Peso for entry and $10000 for camping. We chose to just pay the $14 entry fee.
While having lunch in EC a large truck with digger on board traversed the bridge, so now knowing it was safe we drove over and up to the parking lot.
A great 3 hr walk, a bit like Tassie, lots of ferns and moss, really quite a lovely walk.
On the drive back out towards the main road we camped on a lakes edge. Finally an opportunity for a paddle, so out came the kayak and off we went for a small explore.

Got back from our paddle, rinsed and hung out washing and put another lot on to soak.

2017-04-29 day 13

Last night we planned the next 4 or 5 days.
To catch the ferry from either Castro or Quellon across the channel to Chaiten.

We discovered in Castro that only passenger Ferry’s left from there. So another 90 k’s down to Quellon.

We were directed to the office by the guard at the ferry ramp. No the ferry’s were not running as there are issues with the local fisherman.

What we understood out of our conversation is that the fishermen from Melinka, an island 40k’s south of Chiloe, and one of the ferry’s ports of call, were bringing their fish to Quellon and selling it. Hence upsetting the local Quellon fisherman.

So until that dispute is settled no ferry’s. Last year it took 3 weeks for the same dispute to be settled.
We did however managed to buy a small grease gun and grease and a can of silicon spray, the little shop had just about anything but sadly not a wet suit…..

So much for forward planning....
We left town with a sad face and found a campsite for the night.

2017-04-28 day 12

Found a little stream next to the road so did the next lot of rinsing and put the sheets into soak. The roads are a bit strange here and we don't have their measure. Ones we think should be main are gravel and others that look second rate on the map are sealed.
One road became the beach for awhile then back to road. 
We tried to get to a small inhabitable point. The first road we were on was sealed and I thought we were all good as we were followed by a school bus. However this great road finished at a creek and the road on the dirt road on the other side was fenced off.

 So back around the other way. We got to the end of that road in the village and had to turn on the beach.

In our travels today we found a very steep beach, whose sand grains were about fist size and when the waves receded there was this great sound of rumbling rock.

Today was full of spectacular coast views and farming land reminiscent of NZ, Gorse and all.

Lunch well lunch was the left over mussels so much for keeping them a few days.
Finally, on another attempt for the beach, we ended up on a huge sand area about 2km’s from the sea, so there we sat for the night with our washing drying in the setting sun.

Sand sounds

Caleta Guabรบn is a little wind-swept, rock-infested harbour on the West coast, exposed to the entirety of the Pacific Ocean. There is a steep little beach of grey sand about 100m long, with a few sturdy boats crouched at the Northern end. When we visited, Caleta Guabรบn was making sand, and it was a noisy affair. Each wave that made it past the rocky sentinels, thrust itself up the beach carrying a load of fresh sand. As each wave receded, the sand rattled back down the beach with a raucous clatter. There was not a single grain of sand smaller than my fist. A magical place.

2017-04-27 Day 11

Finally reached our goal of Puerto Montt. We drove around the foreshore and checked out the marina and then headed for Chloe Island which is south and East of Puerto Montt, and is on Rut 5.
We drove onto the ferry that log trucks and buses were on, and 30 mins & A$30 later we were on the island. No waiting at all. Sadly it was still raining and visibility was very poor.

We stopped at a jetty and noticed a stall was selling mussels. I went over (in the rain) and bought 2 kilos A$4.  After discussion with John I went back and ordered a Kilo of cooked and a half kilo of Cockles.
We ate the kilo sitting in EC and watching the tide race past at about 8 knots.

Drove up to Punta Corona on the Northern tip with the light house but nowhere to stay, back down to the beach. The beach was great to walk on and was quite black in places.
We found lots of small round plastic spacers and ended up half filling a 1litre bottle... The things you do on a wind swept beach.

I cooked up the mussels and cockles. we greedily ate another kilo for diner with bread and the rest went into vinegar with garlic so they'd keep a few days.

2017-04-26 day 10

A much longer day in miles today.

We went looking for a laundromat. The first one we found in Frutillar on the Llanquihue lake was one where the lady did the washing for you and delivered it back the next day. So was not suitable.

This small town was settled by Austrians and still has that flavor about it. It now has a big theater built out over the water which seems to have some sort of performance at least weekly.

The next small town Puerto Varos on the same lake had a laudromat with machines. the going cost per kilo was 2100 peso to have it done or 1900 to do yourself. We figured for A$35 we could handle a bit of wet washing inside. The only reason we had thought of using a laudromat was the forcast. Rain on and off over the next week.
Drove for quite a while further around the lake to finally find a camp on the beach.

The lake being fresh, we did some washing and put more into soak. The “washing machine” is a large plastic container with a lid that seals and after a day agitating around in EC as we bump along the roads, the clothes are washed.

It rained overnight.

2017-04-25 Day 9

John checked and the waters had receded. Across we went, water came up to the bottom of the grey skirt.
We drove through the settlement, mostly weekend batches, a phone tower and a black beach which we had a walk on. This beach had the biggest surf we have seen on our trip so far.
The stillness of the ocean has surprised us.

We stopped to chat with 5 guys building a bridge. The large dual wheel truck had driven in last night on the road we would be traveling out on. When I commented about the chains they had on the duel wheels they explained that the road was muddy. We gathered that for 300m the  road isa foot deep in mud. Oh great!!
We did find the mud, and yes it was a foot deep, and I am sure it was much further than 300 meters. John and EC performed extremely well and, although touch and go a few times, we made it through without a hitch.
At 1pm we spied a tourist info sign and a place to park, a good place for lunch. It turned out to be the start of a walking track so after a quick lunch we went for a 3 hour walk. A fantastic walk and forest. Lots of river crossings and the oldest Tree in Chile and South America at 3500 years old,  An Alerce tree, they were used for boat building, furniture, and just about everything. Impervious to water and bugs.
At the end of the walk, back on the road about a km further on from EC we understood why all the arrows were pointing the wrong way… Quite a big set up with toilets and an office with entry prices on the wall 1250 Pesos (A$5) international tourists 2500 pesos…. No one home though so we walked back to the car.
The ranger came by on his Chilean dirt bike and had a chat. He lives up at the start of the trail.

2017-04-24 Day 8

Heading South around the coast, we tried several different tracks to find a beach but in vain.

On one road we turned back as the bridge looked too dodgy. This bridge was constructed of logs running across the width of the road, the fresh ones on the right looked slippery and the left ones were very old. Not worth the risk. We back tracked again.
We continued on in the National Reserve, beautiful bush, narrow windy roads and wet.
The recent rains had caused quite a bit of damage to the road and it was slow going. Oh and did I mention that in places it was slippery!! We did require the use of a winch at one point.
We had covered 80ks in the 8 hours and it was getting time for lunch. Just before our destination we came to the last river. There was no bridge and the river was flooded and flowing fast.

A short drive back up the hill for a camp site and view. Amazingly we had 4 bars of phone signal, all good for the night.

John checked out the depth of the river by braving the cold and walking across. The water came up to his navel in the deepest sections. The crossing angled downstream 60m and he struggled against the current to get back. We decided if the river went down a foot and slowed all would be well. We didn't cherish the whole two days to backtrack.

2017-04-23 Day 7

After a night in the pine forest by a little stream we drove back out to the sea, Valdivia is on a pretty large inlet called Corral Harbor.

We drove along the South side of Corral Harbor and continued South until we found a lovely little cove where we parked above the high tide mark. We have noticed a number of beware Tsunami signs on the road side.

2017-04-22 Day 6

Our wonderful ocean view was a bit wet over night, but the phone assured us that it’d clear by 8am, which it did.
The lookout had a safety rail, which was the correct height for us to put all the stickers on EC, a large map of South America, and a tourist map of Australia on the right hand side, a small road map of Australia on the left, with our website high across the back.
This achieved, we then drove into the little seaside town of Niebla on the North side of Corral Harbor and had lunch, both meals being exceptional.
As we left we noticed the old fort so spent an hour wondering around it. Was well set up with walk ways and cannon over looking the harbour entrance.
On the way out of Valdivia we stopped at a large homeware shop and bought a pressure cooker for winter stews and soups.
Our visa cards don’t seem to be working in the shops or the gas stations so we get cash out whenever we can.
Most service stations and larger super markets have ATM’s which work well.
Headed further south out of town and stayed at a little stream up a dirt road. 

The chook episode

Yesterday I ran over a chook ๐Ÿ”

In an Earth Cruiser ๐Ÿšš

And that was that ๐Ÿ˜ฒ

I nearly wet myself.


The other times I just cried ๐Ÿ˜‚๐Ÿ˜‚๐Ÿ˜‚

2017-04-21 Day 5

We don't have early starts here. The sun doesn't either! She pokes her head up around 8.30am so not point in leaving before daylight.

Headed back to the Rut 5 and then exited to the west towards the ocean and Valdivia.

We drove through Valdivia. One of the interesting items in this town is a ship graveyard. There were at least 20 smallish cargo ships all lined up in rows on land, as we rounded a corner we saw the rails from the river up to the grave yard, which solved one mystery. We have no idea whether it was a ship chop shop or ????

Stayed at a ocean lookout over night

2017-04-20 Day 4

As our tentative plan is to get to Puerto Montt then work back up north slowly we traveled on Rut 5, the highway.  The high way has tolls of anything between $600 and $2500 pesos. We were charged as "class 2" a normal car the magic words being "motorhome", when we were asked to pay more we just showed the other receipts and all was well. We are not sure how it was charged. If you exit, it was usually $600 but if you stay on it was $2500.
We exited at Chillan and stayed the night near a river.

2017-04-19 Day 3

We followed the coast south. Houses most of way along. one town had been built as a resort town. Amazing infrastructure and massive hotels and not a person in sight. Admittedly it is the beginning of winter and a public holiday but still.

We perched above an inlet and small town in front of a drive way with for sale sign.  Two little birds came visiting.

2017-04-18 Day 2

A drive into Valparaiso to do a last minute shop. We had noticed a gas station near by and thought it would be a safe place to park. However the gas station, empty over the weekend, was mainly a car park and full. But on chatting to the attendant and boss, who had some English, John was able to park at the bowser and await me.

A quick pack of cold things into the fridge, then a drive out of town. John had chosen the route while I was shopping.  Up ,up, up & up we went on very narrow streets. We headed for a nearby lighthouse which we found unaccessible beyond a locked gate, so found a place in the trees with a small ocean view.

We had the late afternoon and evening to reacquaint ourselves with all we had packed on board the Earth Cruiser early February. We also needed to find space for all the food we had just bought and our packs we had lived out of for the last 6 weeks.

2017-04-17 Monday EC Released from captivity

Monday 17th at 11am I sent Mario a WhatsApp to ask him to contact Eric and see what was happening.

Reply came back that said Eric had just rung and the container would be open at 12 so Mario was coming to pick us up.
A fast 40 min drive up the hill(towards Santiago) to Placilla de Penuelas to meet Eric.
We did not have our safety boots and the office only had two pairs, so Mario and I in boots, hard hat and safety vest, went into the yards to find the container. Upon arrival the container was open and the last of the nailed down pieces of wood were being removed(they were to stop the vehicle moving sideways).
All four guys were a bit concerned how to get into EC There was no room to walk down the side of her. I took the keys and my phone, crawled under EC up over the bull bar and in the drivers window. With flashlight I found my way to the fuse cupboard and switched the batteries back on.
She started straight away and was reversed out to be parked, locked and left. - More waiting ?

Back to the office. Paper work needed to be taken to customs near the port which closed at 2 for siesta time.  A very quick trip back down to the port. John had wisely opted to travel with Eric and a seat belt!

The thought, for the customs, was we would put the paper work in and pick it up at 4 if necessary. But no, they outdid themselves and we walked out with the paper work. Yes! Back up to the container this time via Mario's house so he could get boots, then to Eric’s house so he could grab another hard-hat to enable us all access to the restricted area.

Wasn’t to be, they had no shoes available so I put on Eric's Wife's shoes, which were a little small but they would do, but John had to wait again.

The customs agent had a little English and a daughter in Perth so there was a connection.

Off we went again to EC this time for the inspection he checked the Vin number and looked in the cab. I opened her up and raised the roof and in he went. Looked in a few drawers and asked if we had any wooden things. Yes I replied, outside.  The levelling blocks were of no interest and he left.

EC was locked and left again. More waiting?

Back to the office and payment to make.   $120 paid and she was cleared. Eric and I walked back to EC and drove her out the gate. Yippee our holiday could begin!!

John got into the drivers seat and we went to a shopping centre for lunch.

Eric and Mario left and we did a more relaxed shop together as it was a more relaxed area and EC was in the car park not on the street.

By that time we realized we would not get out of town before dark so decided to stay outside Mario's apartment. After a cautious drive into town we packed up the apartment and drove out to Mario's place. Parked, had a cup of tea with Mario and his mother, then to bed. I was pretty stuffed..

We both had a good sleep even though the “campsite” was not up to our usual standard. But safety was more the issue.