Tuesday, June 29, 2015
I have travelled this far south to be faced with an English November style day and almost no visibility. The Orono volcano, which famously towers above the lake, is nowhere to be seen and I am questioning my own sanity for not being in Santiago instead for tonight's Copa semi final. I had a choice: watch all of the Copa games and spend almost all of my time in and around Santiago or instead sacrifice some matches and see the south of Chile.
There are no tourist trips this time of year so I just jump on a bus out to Petrohue. It is absolutely miserable out here, rain lashing against the windows of the bus, almost everything outside covered in ash from the volcano that erupted earlier this year.
But suddenly the gloom lifts as we hit amazing forests and wonderful mountain scenery. Parque Nacional Vicente Perez Rosales is a quarter of a million hectare park full of snow capped volcanoes, lakes, forests and waterfalls. The 60-kilometre bus here has cost just two pounds and as this is the low season they are allowing tourists into the wild and dramatic Saltos del Petrohue waterfalls for free!
I decide to walk from here to the lake, which is 6 kilometres of stunning forest scenery. It is reminiscent of the scenery in the 2015 film Ex-machina, set in Alaska but actually filmed in Norway. Aside from the occasional passing 4WD, I have the whole walk entirely to myself. When I reach attractive Petrohue at the very end of the road, there are beaches and a small dock with boatsmen offering trips out on the lake. This is the starting point of the epic Cruce de Lagos but at $200, I've been priced out of that one. Instead, I bite the hand of a local man who takes me out on the lake for half an hour for three quid. It is wild and simply stunning; the inclement weather adding to the vistas. The volcano even pops out from behind the clouds as I head back to Puerto Varas. My whole make-it-up-as-I-go-along day trip has cost less than £10 but has been absolutely brilliant.
I feel so exhausted that I can't even venture as far as the pub for tonight's semi between Chile and Peru. Instead, I cook dinner in the cosy warm hostel and watch it on the plasma. Tonight's hero is Varas, who scores both goals including the stunning winner. I am chuffed for Chile that they are in Saturday's final. They were my pre-tournament favourites and are clearly the best team in the tournament. I just hope I can get in.