Imagine going to a place with snow capped active volcanies, hot springs and vast lakes with beautiful, lush forests in between. Then imagine going with amazing friends who let you stay at their grandparent´s cosy cabin, who drive you around and feed you delicious food and wine. This paradise life was ours this past week and I can´t help but gush about it.
We drove 10 hours south from Santiago to the picturesque town of Pucon (I´m told Leonardo Di Caprio stayed there recently). It's Autumn at the moment, the sun was shining and the air was very crisp. The land the cabin is situated on was bought by Maria´s grandparents for a bargain price of $300 by chance whilst they were driving by and the owner was desperate to sell due to the economic downturn. Much later they built the wooden cabin. Nowadays it would be wortht at least $200K.
The air is so fresh here and though the town is touristic it has a lot charm, what with the volcano and the tree filled moutains in the background. Nearby you can drive to the national park and climb the still active Villarica volcano (you can see smoke rising from the top). We did the cráter walk which started from the charcoal remains of the lava rivers, through the forest (where the changing colours of the leaves made everything glow) to the base of the volcano where there are lava tunnels and the most spectualar view of the Andes and the two nearby lakes. We were lucky as it started to rain just as we got back to the car.
We took advantage of the bad weather by going to the hot springs the next day. There are a few options but we preferred the most rustic one where you just sit in basic outside pools next to running river surrounded by forest. This is a night time activity and most of them are open til 2am. It was glorious just sitting in the hot wáter with the raining falling on my face and the sun fading into darkness. The contrast of hot and cold was such an odd sensation.
We were taken to some very blue and clear lagoons which I would have loved to swim in but it was way too cold. It even seeemed too cold to do white wáter rafting but we did it anyway and for $50 per person we couln´t resist. Even though it was close to zero degrees that morning and we were constantly asking each other "WHO'S idea was this!!", we all found that the water wasn´t that cold and the rapids were exhilirating. There is now a very embaressing video of me jumping off a five metre rock screaming like a banshee with my arms flapping about. Hopefully it never gets released into the world.
And to top it off, we stopped by Maria´s mum´s old farmhouse on the way home where they grow blueberries. We were welcomed with so much warmth and had a picnic on a deck with the world´s best view looking down on the river with more moutains in the background. We had another amazing Chilean BBQ and spent the rest of the night next to the bonfire staring up a sky filled with thousands of stars. Plus they had 3 week old Golden retriever puppies we could play with and a hilarious chocolate lab called Cala who loved nothing more than a good stick and a belly rub (easy to please).
I will never forget the week here in Chile as I have seen and experienced so many magical things that I never could in my old life and I especially loved it whenever Maria said "next time you´re in Chile we should..." because YES! there will be a next time. I want to go skiing in the mountains only 40 minutes from Santiago and swim in the crystal clear wáters of Pucon in the summer and sunbake on the black pebble beaches. Chile is my second home where I now have family and I will return to her shores again.