Carretera Austral….Go now!! (Complete Version)
located in the small village of Pelluco, overlooking Puerto Montt Bay. Joaco and I were sharing a room, and two of Joaco’s brothers, Claudio and Gonzalo, were in another room on the second floor. We heard them heading down the stairs so, as agreed the night before, we went directly to the dining room, quickly downed a cup of classic Chilean Nescafe and a nondescript ham and cheese sandwich. We loaded our bags into our Mitsubishi 4-wheel drive vehicle, and took off into the thick mist of what apparently was going to be a cloudy, rainy day, the type of day you would expect in early spring in this part of southern Chile. Forty five mostly paved kilometers later, we arrived at the ReloncavÍ Estuary and pulled onto an almost empty sloping cement ramp in Puerto La Arena, where we hoped to board the barcaza, a 10-12 vehicle ferry, which would take us across to Puelche.
Pelluco, where we began this journey an hour earlier, is at the southern end of Route 5, the Pan-American Highway, and on the northernmost end of what is now Route 7, the Carretera Austral. We were committed to traveling the length of this newest of Chilean roads all the way to the southern end, Villa O’Higgins, and we were filled with anticipation of the adventure that lay ahead. We had twelve days to drive down the road, and return, so we were on a pretty tight schedule and had left Pelluco early so we would not miss the first barcaza crossing of the day. And it was a good thing we did, because shortly after we pulled our vehicle into line on the ramp in La Arena, several large trucks that transport fish fingerlings for the aquaculture cages operating all along the coast began to line up also, and it began to look like everyone was not going to be able to get on the first ferry. We needed to be on the first ferry, because we had a reservation on another obligatory barcazacrossing further south that was scheduled to depart at 11 AM later this same morning.
|Puerto La Arena|
It was still dark, lightly raining, as we waited, and we had some time to spare so we explored the few buildings that make up La Arena and watched as others showed up to cross with us. It was hard to believe that I was finally going to fulfill my dream of travelling the Carretera Austral, so as I stood under a makeshift shack designed to sell snacks and drinks, but closed this time of year, I reflected on what this trip meant, and why I was so sure it was going to be such a wonderful experience.
In the late 1960s, I began exploring Chile’s 5,000 kilometer length made up of desert, fertile central valley, majestic Andean mountains, pristine native forests, rugged Pacific coastline, beautiful lakes, wild rivers, fjords, and permanent ice fields, from Arica on the border with Peru in the north to Punta Arenas on the Straights of Magellan in the south. Early on in my discovery of the breathtaking natural wonders of what was to become my “second home”, I recall that at that time, now more than 40 years ago, most Chileans when they took time off during the summer vacation months of January and February would head to the coastal cities (Viña del Mar, Valparaíso, La Serena) or towns (Algarrobo, Zapallar, El Quisco, Papudo, Cachagua, Santo Domingo) where they essentially regrouped into their Santiago-based social-familial groups to enjoy the cold surf, welcoming beaches, all night discos and abundant fresh seafood. They tended to hug the coast in their spare time, very few of them venturing into the regions of lakes and rivers further south.
So here we were, at 7 AM on a rainy Monday morning, our first day out, getting onto this barcazathat is going to take us from Caleta La Arena to Caleta Puelche, a lovely 30 minute ride that in spite of the low clouds and cool drizzle still allows a glimpse of the magnificent peaks of Parque Nacional Alerce Andino we are leaving behind and the imposing volcanic peaks of Parque Nacional Hornopirén we are approaching. We do not have much time to spare as we disembarqued in Caleta Puelche and headed towards the village of Hornopirén, about 60 kilometers away, where our 11 AM ferry should be waiting for us. The road skirts the shoreline from Puelche through Mañihueico to Contao, passing numerous salmon farm rafts floating just off shore. Many of the passengers on the first ferry are only going this far to spend several days working these aquaculture operations before returning to their homes in Puerto Montt for a few days of rest.
Our research prior to this trip led us to believe that from Hornopirén we would take a six hour ferry trip around the western side of Peninsula Huequi to Caleta Gonzalo, from where we would again pick up the Carretera Austral and proceed to Chaitén. However, when we made reservations for the 11 AM barcaza from Hornopirén, we were informed that instead of one ferry direct to Caleta Gonzalo there were now two, the first a 5-6 hour trip from Hornopirén along the eastern side of the peninsula to Vodudahue, at the northern entrance to Parque PumalÍn, followed by a quick drive of about a half hour through the park to the small port of Leptepu, and the second a short ferry trip to Caleta Gonzalo.
We had some time in Hornopirén, a welcoming type of town, so we visited the town’s tourism office and landmark church, before buying some essentials (a few bottles of wine) for the upcoming five hour trip through the Comao Fjord. Hornopirén sits in a picturesque site where the RÍo Negro flows into the fjord. It is itself a good base for several excursions into the surrounding area. Hiking, camping, boating and fishing are available in the nearby Parque Nacional Hornopirén, or short trips can be taken down the coast to the small towns of Cholgo and Pichanco where numerous salmon farming rafts dot the coastal waterway. Another option from Hornopirén is to explore by boat the island of Llancahue and the Islas de los Ciervos, which sit right across the fjord from Cholgo and Pichanco.
|Dave, Joaquin, Claudio, Gonzalo|
However, we had reservations on the 11 AM ferry so we could reach Chaitén by nightfall; off we went down the Comao Fjord. This is a fantastic way to see this part of continental Chiloé. The ferry cruises between the Llancahue Island and the Islas de los Ciervos, and eventually between the mainland coast and the Peninsula Huequi, with its snowcapped volcanoes and hot springs (Termas de Porcelana). This five hour ride, even with low hanging clouds and intermittent rain, is awesome. We could tell that while it was raining where we were, it was snowing on the treed tops of the mountains we were passing by. Because the ferries operated in this region by Navimag have very comfortable enclosed seating for passengers, including a snack bar where hot coffee, soft drinks, and snacks can be
purchased, we sat inside and enjoyed the scenery as we shared a lunch of meat empanadas and the two bottles of Castillo de Molina 2011 Cabernet sauvignon we had purchased that morning. After a conversation about Chilean politics with a retired engineer from Punta Arenas, one with a young employee of the Chilean Health Service who was headed to Chaitén to do an inspection of the waste management program of the hospital, and a somewhat heated exchange on the dangers and virtues of genetically modified organisms (GMOs) with a not-so-young widow farmer who was returning to her sheep farm in La Junta (south of Chaitén) after visiting her daughter in Puerto Montt where she is studying nursing, I was rewarded with a well-earned wine induced nap.
|Arriving Caleta Gonzalo|
including some of the best remnants of alerceforests and beautiful tree-lined lakes that you can see only by hiking in from the main road and camping. We stopped and followed a trail into a swampy area of giant alerce trees, some of the way walking along on felled alerce logs two meters in diameter. To stand next to a majestic monument like the Chilean alerce is to feel the very best of nature, but also to want to cry for the very worst of what man has done to this king of a tree.
Chaitén is a devastated town. In 2008 the Chaitén Volcano that sits right next to town erupted violently and for days covered the surrounding area, including neighboring Argentina, with tons of ash. The town of Chaitén, with its 5,000 inhabitants, was covered with as much as two meters of ash.
|Mud and rock flow from the volcano|
National and Regional authorities decided the best action to take was to encourage the town to move permanently to another site; they moved the public services to nearby Palena and made Palena the capital of the province. But more importantly, and probably because they saw no future in this town, they did not make an effort to clear the meters-deep ash from the streets and roads, nor from watercourses such as the RÍo Blanco which runs right through the center of the town. Several days after the eruption, as the ash was building up in and around Chaitén, the waters resulting from the ice-melt on the volcano came rushing through town, overflowed the banks of the river due to the accumulated ash, and flooded the homes, businesses, schools and churches of this ill-fated town. The town on the south side of the river was completely leveled, while the north side fared a bit better, but overall, Chaitén was a ghost town for a couple of years at least, with very little hope of being rebuilt and no official interest in doing so.
|Main street in northern Chaitén|
However, five years later when we drove into this town, the current authorities had reversed the plan to create “New Chaitén” near Santa Bárbara, and instead were beginning to support the efforts of prior residents to resettle the original town, at least on the north side of the river that has been declared “habitable”. Just this year the public services of civil registry, internal revenue service, and housing ministry have reopened offices in this part of Chaitén, and at least 1,800 residents are moving back from the surrounding towns where they had taken refuge in 2008. Many of these residents had challenged the official orders not to return to their homes, and some have lived in the town without public services of gas, water, and electricity for as long as two years.
|Joaco, Dave and Claudio at El Volcán|
Lidia prepared delicious pisco sours for us shortly after our arrival and then recommended we eat dinner at “El Volcán”, just a couple of blocks away and around the corner, so we grabbed two bottles of Rabanal 2011 Cabernet sauvignon that we had purchased in Hornopirén, and enjoyed our first dinner on the road; juicy roast beef, rice, and lettuce salad. That night back in the very cozy family room of the Hostal, we initiated a series of nightly discussions of the day’s events, with the able assistance of our travelling companion, Jack Daniels. We slept well, in part because of the “spirits” of the place, but also because we had arisen around 5 AM, travelled by land over 200 kilometers over half of which was rough gravel road, taken three ferry crossings totaling about 7 hours, and hiked into an alerce forest in Parque PumalÍn. An excellent day one, we all agreed.
|Volcán Chaitén from the village|
As we started out, our plan for the day was to get as far as Puerto Cisnes, a little less than 300 kilometers south of Chaitén. The road was paved for about an hour south of Chaitén, until we reached the southern end of Parque PumalÍn, where we were treated to a most magnificent view of Volcán Michinmahuida to the north. Further along, again on firm gravel roadway, we drove along the RÍo Yelcho, crossed one of
the attractive suspension bridges as we left Puerto Cardenas at the northern end of beautiful Lago Yelcho, crossed another where the waters from the Ventisquero Yelcho Chico run into the lake, climbed through the Moraga Pass (highest point on the road), eventually reaching Villa Santa Lucia. At this point you can turn eastward towards Argentina, to the towns of Futaleufú
or Palena, both of which are about a two hour drive from the Carretera Austral, located just before border crossings into Argentina. This whole area is well known for excellent salmon and trout fishing, spectacular mountain hiking and camping, and white water rafting.
Passing up the opportunity to visit Futaleufú or Palena , we continued south from Villa Santa Lucia where the road begins to border Parque Nacional Corcovado, and Rio Frio, until it finally crosses into the 11th Region, Aisén, where it borders the Rio Palena that flows westward from Argentina eventually into the Pacific Ocean’s Golfo Corcovado. About 140 kilometers south of Chaitén we reached the town of La Junta, a relatively new town previously called “Medio Palena” of somewhere around 1,200 inhabitants.
|market in La Junta|
La Junta is named for its location at the confluence of two beautiful rivers, the Rosselot that carries crystalline waters from Lago Rosselot to the sea, and the Palena. Before the Carretera Austral was built, towns like La Junta associated more with Argentina and Argentine culture than with the rest of Chile, in spite of the fact that the area was used to raise livestock that were taken down the line to Puyuhuapi and then by boat to Puerto Montt. From La Junta, if fishing is your objective, short trips east to Lago Rosselot and Lago Verde are highly recommended. La Junta offers gasoline and a couple of stores selling all sorts of food and supplies, so it is becoming an important stopping point for travelers at this point of the Carretera Austral. We picked up a couple of bottles of Cousiño Macul Don LuÍs (appropriately rustic for the location) and ingredients for ham and cheese sandwiches, and enjoyed a light lunch on the shore of Lago Rosselot.
|Entrance to Puyuhuapi|
As we drove into the small town of Puyuhuapi, it became very clear to us that we were now entering an area of Chile very different and incredibly spectacular. This town, located in the middle of continental Aisén, less than 100 kilometers from the Argentine border, sits comfortably at the tip of the Ventisquero fjord and offers a very mixed bag of lodging, from rustic camping to very comfortable resorts, several boasting therapeutic hot springs. Of special interest also is a well-established, high quality artisan rug factory, worthy of a visit if they happen to be open when you are visiting.
Just a bit further south of Puyuhuapi there is a large aquaculture center producing Atlantic salmon you find in the US at Costco, and a pier from which, if you are fortunate enough to have reservations a boat will take you to the Puyuhuapi Lodge and Spa, located on the Magdaleña Island in the middle of the lush native forest that contains not just trees but also those big, Jurassic ferns. Clearly, a stay at this lodge would be a wonderful experience, so as we sped by on our journey to the end of the road we all felt slightly guilty that the four of us were having such a wonderful time seeing for the first time such a beautiful part of Chile, and we vowed we would return to spend more time here, but next time with our respective wives. This idea was further cemented in our minds a little later when we entered the Queulat National Park and took a short hike to a lookout with an amazing view of the Ventisquero Colgante, a huge glacier that seems to hang precariously over the lush valley below. We spent quite a bit of time just taking in this sight, such an imposing mass of ice, thrusting itself out of the Andes Mountains, feeding impressive waterfalls with fresh water from the melting ice.
the winding RÍo Cisnes through the Andes Mountains that at this point are very close to the Ocean, to Puerto Cisnes.
|O’Higgins in Puerto Cisnes Plaza|
|Eugenia Pirzio Biroli|
I have always wanted to visit Puerto Cisnes, because way back during the years I worked in Chile with the Peace Corps, there was a woman mayor (something of an anomaly at the time) of this extremely isolated town in Aisén, Eugenia Pirzio Biroli, who made herself famous by forcefully taking her town’s and her people’s needs directly to the national government in Santiago, at times sitting in the anterooms of powerful officials including Presidents until her persistence paid off with an audience so she could appeal face-to-face and usually successfully for more services and infrastructure for her town and her people.
|Library in Cisnes|
|School in Cisnes|
Puerto Cisnes is the main population center of a vast area of islands with small fishing villages and totally untouched natural areas some of which are included in huge national parks. It is a welcoming town, but they may still feel somewhat neglected; as we enjoyed a walk through the lovely central park, a car with a couple of matronly citizens stopped to encourage us to visit their port-side restaurant for some of “the best seafood empanadasyou have ever eaten”. We passed up the invitation, not knowing what all might be involved in those empanadas, but we did enjoy how civilized Puerto Cisnes seems to be, with a prominent municipality building, colorful and obviously active cultural center and library, surely due to the influence of the prior mayor. But, in spite of finding the town quite interesting and pleasant, we did not see any obvious places to spend the night, so again we decided to continue our travels, this time all the way to Coyhaique, the capital of the 11th Region.
Tired of travelling, hungry but mostly thirsty, we checked into a classic hotel, Los Ñirres, just off the plaza, ordered double pisco sours all around, had a nice dinner of Aysén beef matched with a very good 2009 Cabernet sauvignon, Ventisquero Grey. We were joined for dinner by a young lawyer, relative of ours, who has lived in Coyhaique for several years. During our very lively conversation he mentioned more than once that the beef cattle sector in the Aysén region of the Chilean Patagonia had been “ruined” by Tompkins, the American behind the Parque PumalÍn we had driven through the past two days. I had a hard time understanding this, and still am not sure if this argument holds together, but it seems that prior to the establishment of control over the huge national parks and establishment of private preserves like PumalÍn, livestock owners were free to let their cattle roam almost anywhere, even far afield from the owners lands and into public lands. As more attention was given to protecting public and private reserves (Thompkins was and still is an active force in this movement) livestock were kept out of these lands, and the entire regime of raising cattle in this region was changed. It represents another case of changing public preference for natural area protection over extensive farming, with the collateral damage to traditional practices, causing sometimes divisive public policy struggles. This explains in part the proliferation of signs we saw all along the Carretera Austral stating “PATAGONIA SIN TOMPKIN$” in pretty bold terms.
Coyhaique is not only the capital of the 11thRegion of Chile; it is the kick off point for most people who visit the Carretera Austral. For years tourists have been flying to Balmaceda airport, about 50 kilometers southeast of Coyhaique, joining tours or renting cars to visit Puerto Aysén and Puerto Chacabuco, and from there to go by boat to Laguna San Rafael where, by water, one can get close up to a monumental glacier, even have a glass of scotch cooled with millennial ice from the glacier. Or, from Coyhaique you can continue south on the Carretera Austral, which is what we had planned to do, so we left the Puerto Aysén, Puerto Chacabuco, Laguna San Rafael excursion to a later date, “with our wives”, we promised again.
|Cuesta del Diablo, Cerro Castillo, Rio Ibanez|
Our destination on day three was Cochrane, a city about 360 kilometers south of Coyhaique. We had been told the road was really bad, and that we would not make very good time, so we left early. Our information was correct; this part of the road is receiving some major work, so there are places where we faced delays while work crews blasted away rock and waited while heavy machinery smoothed out detours around places where new bridges would be built. Also, the road was just rougher than what we had travelled up to now. Driving slower did have its own reward, though, since the scenery was absolutely magnificent as we passed through the
|Kids in Villa Castillo|
|El mate in Villa Castillo plaza|
Reserva Nacional Cerro Castillo and into the glacier area of southern Patagonian Chile. We stopped for a few minutes in Villa Castillo, a small place with the most friendly children in the world, and a very attractive wood carved stature of a mountain dweller offering mate to whomever passes by. From here on to Cochrane the road travels along the east side of a tall range of the Andes and west of a smaller range, the snowcapped peaks visible the whole way even as it drops to hug the shore of one branch of Lago General Carrera.
We arrived at RÍo Tranquillo, where we stopped to take a two-hour boat trip to visit a series of marble-like rock formations in and on the shore of the lake, including the amazing Catedral de Mármol,
|Puerto Rio Tranquillo|
|Catedral de Mármol|
carved out by the action of the waves over the years. The Catedral, a marvel of nature yet unspoiled by the crush of tourism, is an obligatory stop for anyone traveling on this part of the Carretera Austral.
The road crosses a bridge where Lago General Carrera and Lago Bertrand meet and begin to form the iconic RÍo Baker, subject of much controversy around the pros and cons of huge hydroelectric projects. This entire area of Aysén is dotted with fishing lodges and campgrounds where the most serious anglers from around the world find very satisfying environments to practice their sport.
Puerto Bertrand sits on the point where RÍo Baker begins its 200 kilometer rush to the sea, and for most of the rest of the journey to Cochrane we followed this magnificent river, imagining all the fish we would catch, clean and grill, the next time we came to this part of Chile with more time to linger.
We stopped to contemplate a hand written sign on one of the modest houses, which lectured all who pass by: “Only when the last tree has been cut down; only when the last river has been poisoned; only when the last fish has been caught; only then will you realize that money can’t be eaten”.
|Huemul statue in Cochrane|
Upon reaching Cochrane, the last “city” on the Carretera Austral, we checked out the Military Hotel we had been told might have rooms where we could spend the night. My travelling companions were anxious to stay here, so they practiced standing tall and straight, brisk salutes, and recalled details of all the military “experience” they would profess so that we might “talk and look military” and have a better chance to get a room. We agreed I would stay quiet so as not to reveal my true character of “gringo” (read CIA in the southern hemisphere), sometime-pacifist, and more to the point non-apologist for the earlier military dictatorship. So I stayed in the background as the others made their case at the hotel. I was secretly hoping we would not be accommodated, although it was an attractive, modern facility, so I was discretely relieved as we were turned away with the excuse that there were no vacant rooms. Gonzalo, the youngest brother, like I, sports a full beard; he concluded that we were turned away due to the military’s deep distrust of beards. The others felt that their stories of past military experience (mostly made up or greatly exaggerated), were not convincing; they surely were not! I, on the other hand, think they simply did not have any free rooms. Anyway, we were offered alternative simple but comfortable lodging at the residence of the woman who manages the kitchen in the military hotel, MarÍa (of course). After checking in, we were treated to an especially wonderful meal at ADA’s Café and Restaurant where we feasted on oven-roasted Patagonian lamb, stewed rabbit, and grilled Aysén beef.
|Our “hotel” in Cochrane|
|Dinner at Ada’S|
A couple of bottles of 2010 Santa Carolina Barrica Selection, Cabernet sauvignon Gran Reserva, a late night discussion we again invited Jack Daniels to join, and we slept soundly in spite of the purple walls, red bedspreads and pink lace curtains in this funky “hotel-in-progress”.
The drive from Cochrane to Villa O’Higgins is a relatively easy one, mostly on a new hard packed gravel road, the most recent section of the Carretera Austral to be opened.
We passed the turnoff to Caleta Tortel, and continued on to Puerto Yungay where we took the barcaza Padre Antonio Ronchi across the Mitchell Fjord to RÍo Bravo Landing. We would visit Caleta Tortel on our way back north the next day after visiting Villa O’Higgins.
|Barcaza Padre Ronchi|
Forests of the native hardwoods Lenga and Ñirreline long sections of this road, along which, now that the area is opened up to vehicular traffic, homesteaders are staking out their properties and building cabins and more substantial homes and lodges, including some fantastic places for visitors who want to fish the cold waters of the Bravo and Mayer rivers.
|Entrance to Villa O’Higgins|
There is clearly some official interest in settling more people and commercial activities in Villa O’Higgins, several new housing developments have been established with subsidies from the national government, there are at least two churches, several small hotels, lodges, and cafes and restaurants; a new high-end hotel named Robinson Crusoe – Deep Patagonia provides very comfortable, and pricey, lodging.
|Robinson Crusoe-Deep Pategonia|
We decided to stay here, to get a good night’s sleep to prepare for the long journey back to Santiago starting the next day. Before dinner we walked along the river bed outside of town to the Paso RÍo Mosco at the Chile/Argentine border, and then drove down the road a bit beyond town to a boat launching site on the lake from which we could get a closer, clearer look at the imposing Mosco glacier. Given the geopolitical sensitivity of this border town, and the absolute raw beauty of the surroundings, Villa O’Higgins is a destination worth the effort it takes to arrive, and worthy of a stay of several days to enjoy one of the most beautiful, naturally striking areas in Chile.
|O’Higgins in Central Plaza|
|more new housing|
Dinner at the Lodge was preceded by a round of super double pisco sours, cooled with glacier ice (we were told) enjoyed by the fireplace in the second floor sitting room of the main Lodge. A fine but modestly sized plate of tender strips of filet of beef, oven roasted potatoes, and green salad was facilitated by a good amount of Gran Tarapacá Cabernet sauvignon, capped off with the last whimper from our pal Jack Daniels, who abandoned us at this point. We sat around the fireplace the rest of the evening, entertained by the lodge manager Daniel who described how his share of the very successful Robinson Crusoe seafood processing company was turned into this “Deep Patagonia” hotel and extreme tourism enterprise, which over the next couple of years will establish a world class set of activities for visiting by boat, foot, and horse the lakes, rivers, fjords, glaciers, and forests of this still wild paradise.
Caleta Tortel is a small unique village perched on the shore of the RÍo Baker delta, between the Campo de Hielo Norte and Campo de Hielo Sur. Originally, and to a lesser degree today, the main activity in Tortel was capturing the huge Ciprés de Las Guaitecas logs harvested from the forests up-river and floated down to the sea, to be loaded onto ships that would take the logs south to Punta Arenas, Puerto Natales, and north to Puerto Montt.
|Wood sculptures depicting Tortel’s traditional logging activity|
What is so special about Tortel is that this town of about 500 inhabitants has no roads; transportation from the parking area above the town, and within the town, is entirely via wooden walkways made from the same sturdy, resistant ciprés.
Berta lives in Tortel year around, has a few rooms with a shared bathroom with posted instructions that belie the fragile state of Tortel’s hydrologics (“Throw all paper in the basket in the corner” and “showers may not be longer than 8 minutes!”), and offers meals to anyone who happens by. We were slightly tempted to stay with Berta that night, so we could really explore this fantastically unique town, but as was our habit by now, we pushed on.
On our way to Cochrane we stopped to visit the Mellizas falls, requiring negotiating with a local shepard to open the gate for us.
We spent the night again in Cochrane at Maria’s hotel and enjoyed a steak dinner at Ada’s Café and Restaurant (and some more delicious Santa Carolina Cabernet sauvignon).
It eventually empties into the Pacific Ocean at Caleta Tortel via RÍo Baker. The road we wanted to take turned off the Carretera Austral just north of Puerto Bertrand.
|Lago General Carrera|
The trip along the lake to Chile Chico is an easy, but a bit dangerous, drive. Loose gravel with steep drop-offs can be treacherous, but as long as everyone drives with caution it is one of the loveliest drives in Chile. And Chile Chico is a nice border town, with restaurants and stores for the traveler. Ferries travel across the lake regularly to and from Puerto Ibañez, connecting Chile Chico and travelers with a more expeditious route to Coyhaique. We had our last meal in Chile at the Restaurant Turismo de Chile Chico : crispy but moist broiled salmon, and lukewarm beer.
|Ferry from Chile Chico to Pto. Ibañez|
For the next three days we drove north through Argentina, stopping for the night in Perito Moreno, San Carlos de Bariloche and San MartÍn de Los Andes, before crossing back into Chile through the Mamuil Malal pass at the foot of magnificent Volcan LanÍn, then through Pucón, Villarrica, and eventually back onto the Pan-American highway and home in Santiago. An account of this part of our trip trough Argentina deserves a separate literary effort, left to another day.
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