Chiloe and Volcan Osorno.

The previous web page was far from complimentary about the island of Chiloe. Having now left the island and having visited most of the major attractions, I have not changed my mind.

If you are coming from the South of Chile then the island of Chiloe is a disappointment.

A few parts of the town of Castro were reasonably attractive, the palafitos (brightly coloured wood shacks on stilts) were unusual. However most of the town was drab and dirty, with a fair number of drunks.

The small fishing village of Tenaun on the east coast of Chiloe was at least free from drunks and the brilliant blue church was different! Whilst the west end of the church is bright and clean, the interior is ordinary and the side walls are made of rusty corrugated iron. Most of the wooden houses in Tenaun were in need of renovation.

Ancud in the north of Chiloe was not memorable.

Puerto Montt (back on the Chilean mainland) is the start of the 1000km motorway that runs north to Santiago, and the largest town we have visited for three months. Alas the wild and remote part of our trip is over.

After only 10km of motorway we opted for a detour to Petrohue on Lago Todos Los Santos. The campsite here (S41.135125 W72.400245) has black volcanic sand, great views over the lake and free fire wood delivered each evening. Plus fine views of the picture-postcard Volcan Osorno. Recommended.

So impressed were we by the distant views of Volcan Osorno that we decided to climb it. We managed to find a road that lead up to the base of the volcano at 1240 metres (S41.128776 W72.529843). From here we reached 1700 metres in less than 30 minutes. However the snow on the last 1000 metres to the summit was a little too deep for us.

P.S. Did I mention there was a ski resort at the bottom and a couple of chair lifts?

What about the Navimag? The alternative to driving from Puerto Natales to Puerto Montt is to take the Navimag ferry. This should only take four days (we took four weeks) but you will miss a lot of fantastic scenery. Although the Carretera Austral has a reputation as a difficult, even dangerous road we had no problems.

Stephen Stewart.

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