Puerto Varas is only about a 3 hour drive if you go directly from Pucón, but we decided to take the scenic route and drive around the shores of nearby Lake Ranco on the way. Luckily the roads around the lakes are well set up for tourists and have lots of places to stop and take photos, so we had many chances to admire the beautiful scenery. We also made a quick stop in Futrono, a small town on Lake Ranco, for a break and found the most amazing little cafe called Cafe Con Sentido that served delicious coffee, as well as a variety of cakes and treats.
We had booked a great apartment in Puerto Varas that was only one block from the shore of Lake Llanquihue, so on the morning after our arrival we decided to get up and take a stroll along the lake front into town. It was about a half hour walk, but all the way we got to admire yet more snow capped volcanoes towering around the clear waters of the lake. We were massively lucky with the weather throughout our trip around Chile, and Puerto Varas was no exception – there was not a cloud in the bright blue sky to obscure the view.
Jane and Steve wandered off to look for souvenirs while Dan and I went for a coffee and leisurely stroll around the town. Like Pucón, Puerto Varas looks very much like an alpine ski town packed full of log buildings, shops selling cold weather and hiking gear, and lots of cute little tourist friendly places to eat and drink. We met back up with Jane and Steve for lunch at Bravo Cabrera, a cosy restaurant with a pub-like feel that served absolutely enormous burgers – Dan’s was so big that they had to split it into two buns! We sat there for a while enjoying a few drinks while looking out across the lake before heading back to the apartment to play cards.
The next day we ventured out for some more hiking – and fortunately it was a much less muddy experience than the hike in Pucón! First we visited the Saltos del Petrohue, an absolutely stunning array of blue-green waterfalls, rivers and streams set against the backdrop of the imposing Osorno Volcano. There are also three short hiking trails surrounding the falls, and we spent an enjoyable hour or so exploring the woodlands and discovering smaller hidden waterfalls and clear blue lagoons.
Afterwards we headed out to to hike a sandy trail around Lago Todos Los Santos up to a lookout point. It was about a 12km hike in total, with the 6km outbound journey sloping gently uphill almost the whole way until around the last 15 minutes where the trail turns quite steep. The path was also entirely made up of deep sand, so it definitely gave our legs a good workout! When we reached the mirador we were slightly disappointed to discover that it had either not been finished, or it had been destroyed at some point and not rebuilt, so we couldn’t climb up to the wooden platform to see the best views. Nevertheless we still got to admire the scenery and eat our lunch before our journey back down – which turned out to be much quicker thanks to being able to basically slide downhill in the sand! We were put to shame a little bit at one point however by seeing a group of trail runners bound past us – how anyone was able to run in that sand we have no idea.
That night we just about had time to get home and let our legs recover before our early flight the next morning down to Punta Arenas, to explore the stunning natural wonders of Patagonia.