Bariloche to Puerto Montt, Chile
We opted for a 9am departure from Bariloche with Andesmar Chile (ARS$400) for this border crossing into Chile. I know I’m telling you guys about a lot of border crossings but it’s the easiest way of seeing things down this end of the continent. About 2 hours into our trip we stopped to get some Argentinian exit stamps (this took about 40 seconds) but ended up being stuck here for hours as the speedometer on the bus broke so we couldn’t move on. Ugh. 3 hours later 15 of us were allocated seats on a new bus for the trip through Chilean customs (which took about an hour) and on to Osorno (another 5 hours) and then they made us change buses again for the 1.5 hour trip from Osorno to Puerto Montt. Absolutely ridiculously long trek for what it should have been. Needless to say I would not recommend Andesmar Chile.
As we were dropped off quite late at the bus station in Puerto Montt and didn’t have accommodation booked we had to head straight out to find some digs for the night (also we’d heard the area was a bit dodgy at night. I didn’t feel in the slightest bit odd about the area though – it was full of locals wandering about. Maybe like 2am would be dodgy?). We found a few places but they all had ‘no vacancies’ signs on their doors. I had a light bulb moment and told John it was so obvious that nobody would bother climbing a hill to find accommodation so we wandered up the first hill we found and low and behold we found a home. Sorted. God it’s hard being right all the time. Haha! We stayed at Residencial El Talquina for $18,000CP a night. It wasn’t amazing by any stretch of the imagination but the wifi was good and the family friendly.
Puerto Montt isn’t a particularly pretty city but we managed to fill a few days there. The bus terminal is new enough as Puerto Montt is a transport hub for Patagonia. We haven’t really been planning anything in advance in general in South America but that’s not really the best strategy down this side of the world. We would have had to wait for days upon days to get to anywhere we wanted to so we decided to stay put in the Puerto Montt area for Valentine’s weekend and hop on a flight the following Tuesday for Punta Arenas down in the very south of Chile. We had planned on getting down to Villa O’Higgins and walking/boating across the border to El Chaltén in Argentina but it’s nigh on impossible to get to Villa O’Higgins from Puerto Montt and we unfortunately just don’t have the days to wait around for buses at every stop.
Puerto Montt is one of the windiest cities I’ve ever been to but it’s oddly not too cold. They’ve recently revamped what I guess you could call their boardwalk along the water so there’s a nice enough wander from the bus terminal all the way down to the Costanera Shopping Centre. This isn’t a bad shopping centre; there’s a pretty big ‘Unimarc’ supermarket here (there’s also a ‘Bigger’ and ‘Santa Isabel’ supermarkets across the road from the bus terminal), a Hoyt’s cinema (obviously we did that!), a couple of department stores and a huge food court on the top level. Do yourself a favour and head for a hot chocolate from Abuela Goyes. God I’m praying that place is in Buenos Aires!! There’s not really anything else to do in Puerto Montt itself to be honest – if we were going back I’d definitely stay in the nearby town of Puerto Varas (half an hour away) as it’s much prettier and there are plenty of cafés and a beach.
Puerto Varas and Volcán Osorno
We rented a car from Europcar (booked online – they told us they had none when we visited the office but there were a few online. Thinking they were too lazy to call the airport and get one sent it to their downtown location. Ha – we showed them!!) for the weekend and went to Puerto Varas and on to Volcán Osorno and to Chiloé Island, South America’s second largest island (I’ll do a separate post on Chiloé). There is a toll on the way to Puerto Varas ($600CP) unless you take the back road – check it on Maps.me! We stopped at La Gringa café down by the beach in Puerto Varas for some sublime cakes (gluten free, yay!) and lovely tea and coffee. Definitely worth stopping in Puerto Varas for their orange and almond cake alone!
Driving on, we passed the really cute Capilla Santa Cruz church en-route to Volcán Osorno. The volcano is about an hours drive from Puerto Varas along the beautiful Lake Llanquihue. The roads are very good around here – you can see a lot more is being spent in this area compared to Puerto Montt. The volcano is a ski resort in winter – they have ski lifts which you can use (for an exorbitant price – $10,000CP or $20 – what?!) but we decided to climb up instead. It’s only about a 15 minute climb and the views are stupendous.
Note: All the photos in this post were taken using our phones and iPad as our camera is currently having a moment.
Next stop: Chiloé Island, Chile