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We are now back on mainland Chile, a fifteen minute boat trip took us from Chiloe Island to Puerto Montt, and from here our goal was to see Volcan Osorno.   It was really strange being back in what seem to us like a mini ‘Europe’ after the wilds of Patagonia, very posh houses all with lake views, oodles of restaurants, and very expensive supermarkets (all around Puerto Varas). We parked at Lago Llanquihue overnight and enjoyed the company of many people fishing late into the evening and once again early in the morning, but all without success. We were hoping for a salmon for our BBQ! This lake is the second largest in Chile and the third largest in South America.

Sunrise over lake Llanquihue

Sunrise over lake Llanquihue

People fishing at oh-my-god oclock in the morning

People fishing at oh-my-god oclock in the morning

The Osorno volcano stands at 2,652 metres tall and its size dominates the whole of the southern Lake District below and around it.   We were able to drive high, passing through vegetation , bewildering in its variety and then on to the bare slopes with super views of the lake (Lago Llanquihue).  Many people climb this Volcano, but we decided to save our energy for a bigger one!!!. LOL.

Volcano Osorno in Southern Chile. This competes with Mount Fuji in Japan for being the perfect volcano cone, and looking all pretty with it's snow cap.

Volcano Osorno in Southern Chile. This competes with Mount Fuji in Japan for being the perfect volcano cone, and looking all pretty with its snow cap.

The colors on the lava fields around Osorno are stunning

The colors on the lava fields around Osorno are stunning

Long paths over the lava / ash from the Volcano.

Long paths over the lava / ash from the Volcano.

Osorno has some woods on the lower parts, and we found these hummingbirds feeding.

Osorno has some woods on the lower parts, and we found these hummingbirds feeding.

Hummingbirds

Hummingbirds

This hummingbird get stuck in the cab of the truck, and had to be lifted out. It shows how small they are. and it has to be said, Sarah shot the moment

This hummingbird get stuck in the cab of the truck, and had to be lifted out. It shows how small they are. and it has to be said, Sarah shot the moment

And so we continued to Volcan Villarrica which is one of Chile’s most active volcanoes standing at 2,840 metres which was the one we decided to climb.   You must take a guide with you, also you need proper equipment like crampons , helmet and ice-pick to get you through the ice and snow once you reach a certain level.  The crater is always active, with lava visible and sulphurous fumes rising from the centre.  Part of our hike consisted of walking through the volcanic grit which was a good warm up, and then as we got close to the summer snow line we had to put on crampons and helmet and from here there was a trail zigzagging up across the  snow and it was a good idea to stick to this so as to avoid any crevasses , also we had to use our ice-picks for balance.   Just when we were about 10 minutes from the top we took off the crampons as we were back on volcanic grit and scrambled up the last bit to reach the top in 3 hours 20 minutes, not bad for amateurs!!!!!  Every metre was worth it once we saw the views of the ice-fields, other volcanoes in the distance, and not to mention Volcan Villarrica at its best, the view of the whole crater was amazing, 500 metres from one side to the other.

Sarah showing the ice axe that got her to the top of Volcano Villarica

Sarah showing the ice axe that got her to the top of Volcano Villarica

 

On our way up the Volcano ice field with Ruth

On our way up the Volcano ice field with Ruth

Looking down into the crater at the top of Volcano Villarica. The steam you see rising stinks.

Looking down into the crater at the top of Volcano Villarica. The steam you see rising stinks. It is 500 metres across the crater to the other side.

Ourselves and the happyfeetonntour crew at the top

Ourselves and the happyfeetonntour crew at the top

View from the top of Volcano Villarica

View from the top of Volcano Villarica

As always coming down is much quicker than going up, but we weren’t quite prepared for our descent!!! In our back-packs was a canvas wrap for the  bum which we tied around ourselves,put our helmets on and gloves and we had to sit in the channels of snow and slide down using our ice-picks and our feet for the brake.  You couldn’t see how far down you had to go each time so it was always best not to gather too much speed just in case you couldn’t stop , which did happen to me, I lost control  and nearly ending up falling out of the channel, but just managed to slow in time before I was the ‘laugh’ of the day.  Quite exhilarating once you got the hang of it, but as a result we were down very fast.  Apparently in the winter you come the whole way from the top to the bottom this way, but at this time of year there is only some snow left so we had to sline then walk, slide then walk… When the whole volcano is covered in snow, you can come down in 35 minutes!

Sarah looking happy about throwing herself off the side of a volcano

Sarah looking happy about throwing herself off the side of a volcano

I had to chase Sarah down the slide

I had to chase Sarah down the slide

going down was a lot quicker and more fun than going up

Going down was a lot quicker and more fun than going up

All four of us reached the bottom safe and sound and being St. Patrick’s Day , having done the hard bit, we were now onto the good stuff ,food  and a toast to all our family and friends where ever they may be  , and what a lovely way to spend it drinking and eating with our friends Jurgen and Ruth.

a toast to St. Patrick from the side of a volcano. The branch on the table was the closest we had to shamrock. Really.

A toast to St. Patrick from the side of a volcano. The branch on the table was the closest we had to shamrock. Really.

Dinner was cooked on the BBQ once we got down.  Fillet Steak, carrots and Chicken. Easy on the veg :-)

Dinner was cooked on the BBQ once we got down. Fillet Steak, carrots and Chicken. Easy on the veg:-)

Wide angle view of sunset from the side of Volcano Villarica on St. Patricks night

Wide angle view of sunset from the side of Volcano Villarica on St. Patricks night

Sunset on St. Patricks night in Chile

Sunset on St. Patricks night in Chile

To wrap up a super day, we had the sun setting on one side of where we were sitting, and on the other the smoke from the volcano, it couldn’t have been any better.

Really Chile just never stops giving !