Punta Arenas, Chile

We looked at the excursions offered by the ship and decided against buying.
A visit to see penguins on Magdalena Is. USD $299 / person,

Penguines

but we had already booked to see hundreds of penguins on the Falkland Islands, because it was much cheaper. We could have booked to explore Torres del Paine National park, but this tour was a little too rich for us at USD $1299 each . . . .

As none of us had been to Punta Arenas before we thought the best thing to do was to visit the tourist office and pick up a local map, and an information booklet, and have a chat with the staff. A 3.5-hour walking tour off the ship was USD $129, so we figured with a little effort we would see just as much – which we did.

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The rainbow over Punta Arenas made us feel welcome.

Unfortunately, on leaving the ship we had to contend with high winds, and heavy rain much of the time. The ship supplied umbrellas for each cabin, so along with our own umbrella we were well covered. (excuse the pun).

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Welcome to windy & wet Punta Arenas . . a town that joins the Atlantic & the Pacific.

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Two of our friends with the whale tail in the background.

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The town felt small  & friendly, and we enjoyed out short stay, even allowing for the poor weather.
We just had to get used to the rule of the road to cross the streets. . . .

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A visit to the tourist office soon had us up to date with information and street maps.

The office was in the Plaza de Aramas, which also held the statue of Ferdinand Magellan. Note the statue of a young boy on the right side of the monument, he is dangling his leg. Look closely and you will see it is shiny, because if you kiss the toe of the Patagonian boy you will return to the city in the future. Maureen and I didn’t take up the offer – not because we don’t wish to return one day, but we didn’t fancy catching anything that we shouldn’t, being so far from home.

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I’ve cropped out the young boy so that you can see his polished foot.

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The six of us DIY walking tour and trying to keep warm and dry.

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As we crossed the road, I had to take a picture of the local café.
We didn’t go in, as we were on our way to the maritime museum, which was inexpensive to enter and very interesting.

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Took this photo because my daughter’s name is Sara.

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General Baquedano

The first training ship of the Chilean Navy, she was a corvette and was launched in 1898. I took a photograph of the paining in the museum. She was decommissioned in 1959.

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Maureen’s going for her helmsman’s ticket. Perhaps I should have said ‘helmsperson’s’  ticket in this PC day and age . . . just for the record I have a helmsman’s ticket stamped in my discharge book, as yet nobody has taken offence.

During our time in the museum we watched a short film, about thirteen minutes, of Sir Ernest Shackleton, and viewed & read quite a lot of memorabilia.

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Ernest Shackleton – 1874 – 1922

The details of the man who rescued Shackleton’s men off Elephant Island in the middle of a southern winter was an eye opener for me.

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Captain Luis Antonio Pardo Villalón 1892 – 1935

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Tug Yelcho in 1913 –

Shackleton’s three-masted barquentine Endurance, had been crushed by the ice, and sank in October 1915, in the Weddell Sea.

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Endurance being crushed by the ice.

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The final pieces about to sink.

All the crew of 28 escaped, but then had to make their way by sledge and lifeboats to Elephant Island.

Shackleton and five of his crew in April 1916 (southern winter), made their epic journey of 800 miles (1300 km) in an open lifeboat to South Georgia, the life boat was named    James Caird .

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James Caird – actual photograph taken as they launched the boat for the rescue mission.

From South Georgia he made his way to Punta Arenas to organise the rescue of those  left behind on Elephant island.

With Luis Antonio Pardo Villalon in command, and Shackleton as a passenger, they sailed in August 1916 from Punta Arenas to Elephant Island to rescue the remaining 22 of Shackleton’s crew. The rescue was a great success in extreme conditions for such a small ship.

For his bravery and skill in rescuing the trapped men Captain Pardo Villalon was offered a considerable amount of money by the British government, but he refused to accept it and commented that he was just fulfilling a requirement for the Chilean navy.

After leaving the navy Luis Antonio Pardo Villalón was appointed consul in Liverpool (UK) from 1930 to 1934.

The highest point on Elephant Island was named after  Luis Antonio Pardo Villalón, and there is a Cape at the northern end of the island, which was named after his ship, the Yelcho.

The Yelcho was built in 1906 by the Scottish firm G. Brown and Co. of Greenock, on the River Clyde.

In 2016 Shackleton’s grand daughter, the Honorable Alexandra Shackleton flew to Punta Arenas to open the “Shackleton, 100 years” exhibition to honor the great explorer and Piloto Pardo.

The museum was a very interesting and well worth a visit if you are ever in Punta Arenas.

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Azamara Pursuit is alongside the wharf on the far side, and on this side are two other vessels (the red one & the orange vessels).
I think the red vessel is the RV Laurence M. Gould  (RV = Research vessel), from the United States’ National Science Foundation – she is an ice breaker.
The orange coloured vessel is the Almirante Maximiano and she is also a research vessel, Brazilian owned, but registered in the Cook Islands.

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As we made our way back to the ship you can see how fierce the wind was – the white caps are caused by the strong wind.
On reaching the land end of the wharf we were not allowed to walk to the ship (about 200 meters) because the authorities consider that that the wind strength made it too dangerous. They laid on a small bus to take us to the gangway, which was sheltered by our ship.

An interesting few hours, but must admit it was a pleasure to return to the comfort of the ship after being in heavy rain, and then being blown dry by the wind from the Antarctic. It was unfortunate that we missed seeing the replica of Magellan’s ship due to the bad weather, but for me the details of the Shackleton rescue and the museum in general made up for the poor weather.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

A sad end to a fine ship.

In southern Scotland there is an area that used to be called Peebleshire, until 1975 when Scotland abolished counties as local government areas.

Robert Barclay of Glasgow, founded an engineering & ship building company in 1818, and and over the years it grew in size.

In 1875 he built the first four-masted, iron-hulled fully rigged ship in the world for R & J Craig of Glasgow. It was called County of Peebles. It had a cargo capacity of 1614 net tons, and on entering the jute trade between Great Britain and India she was, what we would call today, ‘state of the art’ for a windjammer.

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With the success of the County of Peebles R & J Crag ordered eleven more similar rigged four masted ships.  Each one was named after a Scottish county, County of Inverness being just one other of the sisters.

In 1898 County of Peebles was sold to the Chilean navy and renamed Muñoz Gamero so named after Benjamín Muñoz Gamero who was a Chilean naval officer & governor of Punta Arenas in the Straits of Magellan. He was killed during the Mutiny of Cambiazo in 1851.

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Another picture of County of Peebles 

During the late 19th century sailing ships could be competitive on long voyages to Australia or India. Overall they were faster than steamers, because they didn’t have to bunker for coal nor did they require freshwater for steam. At that time a steam ship would average about 8 knots, and had to call in various ports for bunkers etc.

Later steamers replaced the windjammers because they could maintain a schedule, and were not subject to the wind.

The windjammer era ended in the 1930’s.

Moshulu

If you are interested in life aboard a windjammer, may I suggest ‘The Last Grain Race’ by Eric Newby , The above is a photograph of the Moshulu the ship in which he sailed

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This edition was published in 1956 – the author who, became a travel writer, took part in the Last Grain Race in 1939 when he was eighteen. He shipped out as an apprentice seaman.

Back to County of Peebles – the Chilean navy had bought the ‘Peebles’ so as to be used as a coal hulk at Punta Arenas on the Straits of Magellan.

In the mid 1960’s she was beached and used as a breakwater, and is still there today.

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I took the above photograph, and as you can see her masts are ‘cut down’. A sad end to a fine ship that in 1880 sailed from Cardiff to Bombay in eighty three days; and in 1883 sailed from Glasgow to Buenos Aires in 59 days and her last voyage as a commercial vessel was  in 1898 , she arrived in Hamburg, 101 days out from Calcutta.

All our yesterdays . . . .

 

 

 

 

 

A ship’s biography

During WW2 the US Navy created a classification of ship as ‘Attack Transport’, which consisted of a specially built ship that would carry troops in to battle, but as normal troop ships were usually converted merchant ships, and relied on either docking or tenders to deliver the troops ashore an ‘attack transport’ carried her own landing craft so could land troops anywhere.

There is a film called Away all boats , which was made in 1956 and based on a novel by Ken Dodson, who was an officer who served on an attack transport during World War 2. The film stars Jeff Chandler, I’ve seen the film recently and it’s not bad.
Keep your eye out for a young Clint Eastwood – he doesn’t have a speaking part.

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USS Riverside

On the 13th April 1944 an attack transport, commissioned as Hull 870, was launched and acquired by the US Navy in June 1944 and was named USS Riverside.

She was assigned to the Asiatic- Pacific theater of the war, and at the end of the war spent time in Asia as Occupation Services.

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During her wartime appearance . . .

In January 1947 she was reconverted for the merchant service and sold to Pacific Argentina Brazil lines (P&T) in December 1948, and renamed SS P&T Forester.

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SS P&T Forester

She was later sold to Moore McCormack Lines Inc. in March 1957, renamed SS Mormacwave

 

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SS Mormacwave

In 1966 she was sold to Grace Lines Inc. and renamed SS Santa Leonor. Under her new name during her maiden voyage she was sailing from Rio de Janeiro to San Francisco. Her previous port of call was Buenos Aires, and her next stop was Valparaiso, Chile.

During our recent cruise on the Azamara Pursuit in the Magellan Straits, we met the Santa Leonor –

 

 

 

 

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On the 31st March 1968 at 1.52 am the Santa Leonor ran aground on rocks off Isabel Island, approximately 20 miles into the Patagonian Channels, in an area called Paso Shoal.
The vessel slid back into the channel and floated a short distance, before finally came to rest on one of a small group of islands called the Adelaide Islands. Neither the vessel nor the cargo was salvaged. The crew and passengers were all saved.

If you would like to read more about this incident read the report  it makes interesting reading.

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The end of this ship’s biography.

 

 

A celebration of cold . . .

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Fjords, drama & cold

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This blog will be mainly pictures, with a limited amount of description.

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After leaving Puerto Chacabuco it was Chilean fjords all the way.

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I’ve tried to capture the grandeur of the scenery.

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The mist added, rather than distracted from the scenery.

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Flat calm and loneliness . . .

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While cruising through the fjord we came across a small ‘growler’. Note how much is under the water.

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Clouds or UFOs ?

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Temperature dropping and you only went outside if you had to  . . for picture taking etc.

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Is it any wonder that this area is still wild and undeveloped, except for a small amount of tourism.

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Our first glacier and we were quite a long way from it . . .

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Under the snow and ice is water, which lubricates the movement as if flows in to the fjord.

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Floating ice has become much more common.

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We moved closer to the glacier . .

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Ice is getting more prevalent . .

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A picture in blue.

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When we lived in the UK, in winter we had black ice, now we have blue ice.

DSC04587rThe ship seems to be attracting the ice.

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I leaned over our balcony to take this shot of ice clinging to the ship.

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Ship’s boat has been sent ice harvesting – we must have run out of the cold stuff.

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The piece that they brought on-board by using the ships’s crane was far to big to manhandle, so they had to break it up in to smaller pieces, and this is one of the smallest, which took four men to handle.
The ice was on display on deck and the one thing that we were told over and over, was not to use any of the glacier ice in our drinks, because it will be impure for human consumption. That made sense because we didn’t have any idea what had been frozen within the ice. Cooling one’s glass from the outside seemed OK .

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The entertainment was over and we sailed slowly away from the glacier.

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Glacier

I thought I’d leave the best until the last –

Azamara Pursuit drifting at the base of the glacier – I didn’t take this picture, but the ship’s photographer did, while the ships’s boat crew were harvesting the ice.

 

Puerto Chacabucco – a quiet town

In 1991 Puerto Aisén was the main port of the area along the Aysén Fjord, but from August to October in 1991 Mount Hudson erupted. The ash and erosion reduced the depth of the navigational part of the port, so the port had to be moved closer to the coast, where Puerto Chacabucco now stands.

The ship offered various tours – fly fishing in season USD$ 999 (5.5 hrs) or bike riding USD$159 (4 hrs), Patagonia Nature USD$179 (5 hrs) – all in all we decided that we would not take a tour because of the limited time that we had – only six hours in total, and we liked to be back on board an hour before we sailed.

This port was the quietest place I’d ever visited, other than a cemetery.
Fortunately our ship was small enough to berth alongside – we did not require to tender ashore.
We arrived at 1.00 pm, and as we didn’t plan on leaving the town area, we decided to walk around the town and go with the flow.

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We stepped ashore and walked up the small incline out of the dock area, which took us about four or five minutes. It was a Monday and the dock area was very very quiet – nothing was happening, and I think the passengers were the only living thing around, other than one local guy on the pier watching us.

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The market area and bus stop. We saw the bus (a mini-bus), but it didn’t stop at this stop, but stopped where ever a passenger waved his hand – I wasn’t sure if the person who boarded was a local or from the ship. As you see it was a beautiful warm day.

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Many of house appeared abandoned, and hadn’t been lived in for some time.

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I took this because of the street sign (the green one).

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The local council must think that the population (those who still live here) are unable to work it out that if a tsunami happens they should run for high ground . . .  or the sign could be to cover council legally, as in H & S or to be PC.

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Our walk (more like a slow stroll) was about an hour an a half in total. This shows how close we are to the ship after we’d completed a large circle.

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I don’t know for certain, but I think these homes were for the various pilots who service the fjords and surrounding waters, hence the large number of pilot boats on which I commented in my last post.

On the way back we did see a few locals who were kind enough to greet us, and wish us well, which was nice.  DSC04483r

Back on board and leaning on the rail of our balcony I took this photographs, all peace and quiet.

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Suddenly this craft appeared – made me think of James Bond, didn’t see anybody and it just disappeared up the fjord that we used to get to this location.

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As we sailed I managed to catch the sun reflecting off the mountain.

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The evening turning in to night.

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One of the few local living things that I’d seen all day.

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The sun sets leaving a black sea and the outline of the hills.

With hindsight perhaps we should have taken the bus to Puerto Aisén, which was a slightly larger town, but the lack of taxis in the port made one wonder if we would be able to get back in time – isn’t hindsight great?

Northwest Patagonia . . .

We sailed from Puerto Montt at 5.00 pm for our next port of call, which was Puerto Chacabuco.

We passed a number of islands off the Patagonian coast, and experienced the majestic fjords that made one think of Norway.

The area known as Patagonia is split between Chile & Argentina, but I must admit I always thought of Patagonia as a part of Argentina rather than also being part of Chile.
Patagonia is the only place that the Welsh colonised, and in certain areas the locals still speak Welsh, and the children are taught Welsh.

The Welsh arrived in 1865 with the belief that their culture needed to be protected, because they considered it under threat in Wales.

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The Welsh / Argentinian flag.

It is estimated that 50,000 Argentinians can claim Welsh descent.

This post will be mainly photographs, because I enjoyed just floating passed some beautiful spots.

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Being an early riser has its compensations . . just to watch the sun rise.

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This is why I picked a cabin on the port side of the ship.

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All good things come to he who waits.

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A picture in blue

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We are inside a fjord – the water is flat calm as you see.

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‘Civilisation’, a small village on the point.

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Clear sky, but it suddenly poured with rain – check the the surface of the water.

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I was in the Living Room on the ship when I looked out and saw the sun reflecting on the water during a downpour, and had to click away.

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Starting to clear and the mountain in the background takes shape.

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Don’t forget we are in the middle of summer – February.

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Rain has stopped, but the wind has picked up a little. (white caps on the water)

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Nearing our destination – small sign of civilisation, with the pleasure boat.

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Our destination is around the next headland – on the port side.

‘Left hand down a bit, Mr Murray’ – you’d have to be of a certain age to remember this comment.

51xfiGPNQVL._SY445_A British radio show called ‘The Navy Lark’, first broadcast in 1959.

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At first I thought that this was the pilot boat, but it was a small tug that would carry our mooring lines ashore.

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I hoped that the pilot was not the same one who tried to berth this vessel . . . .

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I looked back as we entered the small port . . .

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The pilot boats – during our passage of the fjords we had a number of pilots living on board – I think there were six due to the complexity of navigating the various channels within the fjords.

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Alongside at last – the small boat that I’d seen, carried our mooring lines to the shore side gang.

I should have called this post Blue Skies . . .

 

Puerto Montt

Puerto Montt is a town in southern Chile known as the gateway to the Andes. It began life quite late, not until 1853.

For a ship’s tour of nearly eight hours the cost would be USD $169 per person, so it was research time to cut the cost.
It wasn’t long before I found GV Tours, a tour company that has several offices across Chile. They were easy to deal with, and they were prompt in answering all my questions. The cost for a three-hour tour, which is about our limit, was USD $55 per person, with the use of a small bus, driver & guide. Other people on the ship had the same idea and I think we ended up with about twelve to fifteen passengers in total.

We wished to experience a scenic drive to Petrohue Falls, see alpacas, and visit places of interest during the drive. The ship docked on time, but it was raining.
On boarding the bus I looked out of the window to make sure that I would be able to take a few scenic shots as we traveled to Petrohue Falls.

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Not the ideal way of photographing the scenery – and it was summer time.

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The scene as we arrived at the main gate of

Vicente Pérez Rosales National Park.

The park is named after Vicente Pérez Rosales, who organised the colonisation by Germans and Chileans of the area. He was born in 1807 and died in 1886.

To reach the Petrohue Falls we had to walk along a muddy track & with additional hazards of slippery rocks in the pouring rain, but one can not blame the tour company for the weather.

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This might give you some idea of the conditions, umbrellas were the order of the day, and wet gear was required by everyone.

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The water was wild and dramatic as it poured over, under and through small gaps in the rocks.

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This what we’d hoped to see  in the background, but the mist & rain defeated us. . . .

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Even in the rain the falls were impressive.DSC04340r

 

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I wondered if we would see anyone trying the above  . .  we didn’t, I took a photograph of a poster of what you can do at the falls.

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Far more peaceful, I doubt that the fish would agree with me.

From Petrohue Falls we walked a little further to Laguna Verde, which is a lake hidden along a pathway in a thick forest of Coihue trees.

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You can see the rain on the water, which is green due to the algae and minerals in the water – they do say who ever drinks from this lake will have good luck for the rest of their lives . . . I had the feeling that drinking from this lake would shorten my life some what, so perhaps it is true . . . as long as your life is very short.

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What we’d hoped to see.

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Lake Ilanquihue –

We’d hope to see Osorno Volcano, across the lake – the above is what we saw . . .

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We left Petrohue Falls and drove to a lookout point for more photographs of the lake, but the weather was still ‘uncooperative’, so we crossed the road to check out a few wet animals.

DSC04358rAlpacas are gentle and curious as to what is going on around them – they followed our movements without fear and as I pointed the camera they looked in to the lens as if they all done it before.

 

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Alpacas are smaller than lamas, and are bred for their wool. Lamas are are bred as pack animals.

Our next stop was Puerto Varas and the weather was a lot kinder.

The town was colonised by German migrants who had answered the call from the Chilean Government in 1853 to open up the area, which at that time was a vast wilderness. Many of the houses that we saw had a strong German influence.

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German Club dated 1885

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The town had a pleasant feel to it, and I don’t think it was due to the blue sky, which helped to brighten our spirits.

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We found a small market that was selling mainly clothes, and many were made from alpaca wool. Although light in weight they were bulky so cramming them in to an already full suitcase was out of the question.

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Puerto Varas was built on the banks of Llago (lake) Llanquihue. We walked along the shore line and came to Teatro del Lago (Theater of the lake). The town has a festival of music in January and February each year but when they don’t have a concert the building is closed, although we were able to walk around the outside of the building.
In the largest auditorium it can seat 1200 people and is made completely of wood. From a distance it has a stripped appearance, and at first I thought that it was painted metal, but once you get closer one is able to distinguish the different types of wood.

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Lago

Main entrance area – this part faces the road.

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View from the side of the theater

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The walkway around the theater is also made of wood – the railings are metal.

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At last a view that we were able to photograph, even though we couldn’t see the volcano. Took this from the end of the walkway around the theater.

Overall we enjoyed our day out, but must admit I am pleased that we didn’t fork out USD $169 each!

  What we were hoping for

Thanks to http://www.sharynsstudio.com for the video.