Winter Break #3: Stuck in Puerto Montt

This is the third post about my winter break holiday at the end of July where I flew up to Puerto Montt with Susan for 2 weeks of exploring the region and to visit a friend’s family on the island of Chiloé. Previous posts: #1 Puerto Varas and #2 Petrohué National Park.

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!

Puerto Montt was our next stop on the holiday, but mostly because it’s the big city, so had a bigger bus terminal where we could catch a bus to some other national parks in the area. Big mistake! Everyone we’d spoken to in Puerto Varas had said it’s not worth going to, but without our own car we didn’t see any other way of getting to the national parks.

This was a city but even the internet was bad. The dogs seemed sadder, not even lifting their heads in the hopes of love and attention. When night-time came it was worse, the shops shut up in the dark and the ugly grey barriers were brought down as guards.

But don’t take my word for it. Here’s what the big names have to say about the place:


Trip Advisor
“Established by German immigrants in 1853, this is now the key port, transit and business hub of the Lakes District – a good place to replenish supplies, pick up Chilean crafts and get an urban jolt before moving on to more pristine pastures”

This pretty much sums up Puerto Montt and the reason this is not a city that I should ever visit. The grubbiness of a city without any of the Chilean charm.

Rough Guides
“Though even some of the locals refer to it as ‘‘Muerto Montt’’ (‘‘Dead Montt’’), on a sunny day, this gritty town is quite attractive, with snow-tipped volcanoes visible across the bay from the seafront promenade.”

Muerto Montt. Gritty. Sounds lovely. Just what I want on a holiday where I’m trying to escape winterQuite attractive isn’t quite hitting the bar of what I expected from Chile. 

Susan
“I’d rather poop in a hole than stay in Puerto Montt”

There you have it. And that was after we stayed there, so it wasn’t just first impressions. (Although I’m pretty sure Mike would prefer the stay in Puerto Montt)

Our plan was to use the city as a base for exploring the “pristine pastures” but this only worked to a certain extent. We were rather judgemental of Puerto Montt, but it just kept disappointing us at every turn. The day we arrived we checked in and left our bags at a cheap hotel near the bus station. The internet hadn’t provided us with much in the way of hostel information beforehand, and when we got there we realised why.

Even the viewpoint leaves something to be desired! Broken leg, anyone?
Even the viewpoint leaves something to be desired! Broken leg, anyone?

The hostels we found worked more like hotels, not even having a kitchen. I go to hostels for the reason that I don’t mind sharing rooms and bathrooms, and that I want to cook for myself and meet other people. We explored the city on our way to one hostel to enquire about staying a night there. We arrived and explained we had accommodation for one night, we’d be going to the national park the next day, and wanted to know what else there was to do here to know if staying yet another night was worth it. Turns out the owner didn’t have many ideas or reasons for us to stay here. Stomachs rumbling from the uphill hike, we found somewhere for food and headed back to the hotel to plan what to do for the rest of the week.

A great little snack shack with burger bar type food and a very friendly owner. Good place to escape the wind too!
A great little snack shack with burger bar type food and a very friendly owner. Good place to escape the wind too!

Scouring the internet we found a nice eco-hostel near a small town called Cochamó, which was also the start of a good trekking location. We weren’t sure if we could still trek in winter, but we needed to get out of the grubby city and in to the countryside.

After heading to the bus station to find out leaving times, we worked out we could get the last bus out if we were back from the national park in time. So the next day we got back an hour before the last bus, headed to the bus station only to be disappointed. Buses here apparently change their timetable without notice, so they’d cancelled the original last bus meaning we’d missed our chance to escape. We were stuck in Puerto Montt for another night, and missing out on waking up in green space. 😦

Oh well, we’ll just have to get the first bus the next morning. Let’s just relax tonight and go to the cinema. NOPE, sold out. On a Thursday night. We can’t even do normal things here!

Another night in the hotel, another early morning. Eventually we made it to the stunning valley with incredible views, but the changing buses, which we’d checked the times of the day before, had meant that we’d missed out on a day hike. It was time to head to Chiloé to meet up with our friend. 

I wouldn’t recommend Puerto Montt to anyone unless it’s to get a bus straight back out again. But even with that, be careful you don’t get stuck! Try to have your own car so you can escape to the nicer places surrounding it, that way you don’t have to rely on unreliable buses.

I don’t like to leave things on a sour note, so I will finish this post by pointing out some of the redeeming features of Puerto Montt. As it’s in a bay and the city spreads out uphill, it looks nice at night from far away as you can see all the lights. On our early morning bus we caught a glimpse of this just before the city was waking up.

Oh, and there’s a playground in the shape of a pirate ship. 

Pirate ship!
Pirate ship!

Yeah that’s all I can think of. I told you it was bad.

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