Under the Volcano

We left our rustic cabin in Chiloé at 7.30am in cold and overcast conditions, the complete opposite of the past few days, but I guess more typical of summer here. It takes around an hour and half to reach the ferry point at Chacao and just a 20-minute crossing over the grey choppy channel to the mainland where we rejoined Ruta 5 for the long drive northwards to Pucón and beyond to our final destination under the Volcán Villarrica at Lago Carbugua.

The drive door-to-door took around 7.5 hours and was helped immensely by a completely clear and straight Ruta 5 or, for a bigger picture, the Pan American Highway, which runs from the top of Alaska in the north down to Tierra del Fuego in the far south – well, as far south as you can possibly be, without being in Antarctica. The speed limit was liberating120k/hour and with no one on the road it really felt like no time at all, passing massively impressive snow-capped volcanoes such as Volcán Osorno and increasingly alpine scenery.

The actual directions to our second cabin, La Casita de Tierra, Rio Liucura, Pucón were a tad vague to be honest with google maps pin pointing the spot but added written and verbal directions actually complicated matters. In the end we were guided in by Alvarito, our caretaker who we followed off the main road, down a windy rough and rocky track, over a rickety wooden bridge or two and further into the forest, suddenly turning off into a deeper forest nook and an even smaller windy rocky track until after around 1 or 2 ks we arrived at the cabin, with Volcán Villarrica, the most active volcano in all of Chile right in front of us! Wow!!!

What an absolutely charming place, a wooden cabin (not a shack) and larger than we imagined with compacted white-washed mud walls inside and, to be honest, a touch of the hobbit-house, but really lovely and fully equipped kitchen and bathroom. There’s a wrap-around wooden deck overlooking the volcano and forest and a brand-new BBQ set up just ready to go. Couldn’t be better!

What’s so gorgeous about this place is its isolation – there’s a river you can hear just below running past the property through the forest, probably too cold for any lengthy dip but we’ll give it a burl.

BTW, the isolation here means NO wifi despite having a portable 4G hub – doesn’t work, no signal it seems. I guess we’ll just have to relax then and ignore the world for a few days.

But the other advantage of being out in the woods is the totally clear night skies with the Milky Way swirling above us. As we were watching the last of a spectacular sunset, we glanced skyward and overhead, high in the darkening sky shot past the International Space Station, with a burst of sunlight hitting one of the panels creating a dazzling bright flare.

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