Winter Break #1: Puerto Varas

I was excited to finally be able to write about travels on my blog instead of just life in Punta Arenas, but I ended up writing far too much! I didn’t want to forget the small things, so I wrote about pretty much everything. I’ll be breaking up my 2-week winter break in to multiple posts, so this is just the first part!

Usually I'm chilling in the far south in Punta Arenas. Time to explore another part of Chile with a flight to Puerto Montt!
Usually I’m chilling in the far south in Punta Arenas. Time to explore another part of Chile with a flight to Puerto Montt!

After my first semester of teaching English and a week at the English Winter Camp, the end of July meant a nice 2 week holiday, and some much-needed time to explore another part of Chile. Me and another volunteer Susan decided to head to the “south” of Chile (which was in fact a 2 hour flight north of us!) to explore some national parks and then head to the island of Chiloé where a friend of ours had family.

First week of winter break: Puerto Varas, Puerto Montt, National Park in Petrohué and rural retreat in Cochamó
First week of winter break: Puerto Varas, a cycle to Llanquihue, Puerto Montt (UGH!), National Park in Petrohué and rural retreat in Cochamó



The first part of my Winter break was spent in the beautiful town of Puerto Varas and OH how lovely it was to be warmer! After winter in the most southern city in Chile, 6°C felt heavenly. It was great to only need one coat and not worry about freezing your ass off when you leave the house!

A final meal with Susan’s host family set us up for the journey there, where the small world of travelling coincidences started straight away. The previous week I’d met up with a Couchsurfer for a drink who told me of her adventures around the world, and more recently her journey on the 3-day Navimag ferry from Puerto Montt to Puerto Natales. At the airport we met a traveller from Australia, who we ended up hanging out with the next day, and it turns out this guy had been on the same ferry as the Couchsurfer!

Arriving on a Sunday evening we didn’t fancy hoping there were buses from the big city, so we got ourselves a taxi to Puerto Varas with the Australian guy, straight to the doorstep of our hostel. It was a great hostel and I would highly recommend it to anyone visiting the area. Not only was it a wonderful hostel but it was so good to hear someone speaking English… from SCOTLAND! For the past few months I’d been surrounded by Chileans and Americans with only the odd skype to family back home.

Statue on the lakeside of Puerto Varas
Statue on the lakeside of Puerto Varas

A bit of chatting later and we pretty much had the next day sorted. The Scottish couple were getting up early to head to one of the national parks and asked if we’d like to join them. After accidentally inviting loads more people, we relieved them of the need to retract their offer by leaving a bit later! The scenery was incredible and a day in the wild was just the reboot back to nature that I needed, so I’ll write about that in another post.

Arriving at the National Park, gorgeous mountains and a bit damp
Arriving at the National Park, gorgeous mountains and a bit damp



A day of walking meant our stomachs were rumbling, and our meal out with our new travel companions made me realise just how good my Spanish was getting. The American we’d met was 5 days in to his trip, and he was the first “stereotypical” young traveller from the USA that I’d ever met. We tried to teach him some Spanish, and got him to do all the talking to the waitress, with some hilarious results.

Me and Susan somewhere past Llanquihue, the furthest point on our cycle from Puerto Varas
Me and Susan somewhere past Llanquihue, the furthest point on our cycle from Puerto Varas

Our friend on the island of Chiloé wouldn’t be there till the end of the week, and we loved Puerto Varas and the national park so much that we decided to stay another night. So the next morning instead of checking out, we rented some bikes from the hostel and made our way north to Llanquihue, vaguely aiming for Frutillar but being 32km away we weren’t expecting to make it. The path was mostly easy to follow, starting off quite rough along the railway tracks but progressively getting better with each section, until eventually we were on the road. We made our way to the mirador (viewpoint) where we whacked out our sweet pastries and took in the view.

Behind the fog are some great views of volcanoes!
Behind the fog are some great views of volcanoes!

Although the guide for the view was an absolute lie! It marks the volcano names the other side of the lake, but at this time of year the clouds were too low and you could barely see the other side. The sun came out to say hello on some of our stops, and the whole ride was gorgeous as I got to feel fresh air on my arms again. Actual air from outside that isn’t freezing! I’m definitely a lot paler now, quite a contrast from Dubai, when I returned home and some people didn’t recognise me from being ten shades darker. Now I’ll probably come home and people will think I’ve dressed up as a vampire for fun.

A bumpy road to start meant a bumpy end on the return leg - we definitely had sore bums after!
A bumpy road to start meant a bumpy end on the return leg – we definitely had sore bums after!



The limited information on the internet showed us that if we wanted to see any of the other national parks nearby, then our best bet was to move our base to Puerto Montt as the city had a bigger bus terminal. So after our bike ride we hopped on a bus for a short 30 min ride to the big city, which was a bit of a dump, especially coming from Puerto Varas. More on that in the next post!


Puerto Varas is a lovely little town, and which I imagine is very touristy in the summer but for a good reason. There was an artisanal market and even the buildings themselves attract tourists. Although nice to look at this wasn’t our reason for going there, we just wanted to see some more landscape of the country we’re currently calling home.

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