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A bus took us from the Navimag ferry to Puerto Montt bus station. We needed to get a bus to Puerto Varas where we would be staying for six nights. The bus station was easily navigated and we were pointed to a minibus heading to our destination. We shared the ride with a Dutch girl whom we had met on the ferry.
The minibus dropped us off in town and a quick look at Google maps told us we were a little too far from the hostel to walk with the bags. We hailed a collectivo and made our way to the fantastic Hostal Compass del Sur.
Connie, the receptionist, gave us a warm welcome and showed us around the hostel. Our room was not ready yet but we were given the Wi-Fi password and relaxed in the lounge area until our room was ready. After spending four nights in the small cabin of the Navimag ferry we were happy to have a large room where the kids could have their own space. Dad headed to the supermarket while the kids did some learning and relaxed. That evening we spent our time downstairs in the lounge area meeting fellow travellers and exchanging stories.
The following day we all headed into town. Puerto Varas is a lovely small town that sits on the banks of Lake Llanquihue surrounded by volcanoes. Local artists were selling their wares along the shore of the banks and the kids enjoyed seeing the different sculptures. Making our way towards the cathedral in town the kids found a small park to run around in. They played there for a while before we explored the rest of the town.
Mum spent the evening meeting travellers in the lounge that evening including a couple who are travelling the world for 20 years and another who have overlanded in ‘Ruby’ the Land Rover through South America.
Rain spoilt the next day so we spent a lot of time around the hostel and booked ourselves on a day tour for the next day. We woke early for our day tour to Osorno Volcano and were joined by a French woman from the hostel on our tour. The first stop was near Petrohué Lake where a 35-minute hike through thick volcanic sand led us to the beach by the shore of the lake. On the hike back, the kids moaned the whole way and we had a few stops for meltdowns. The early wake up and thought of a full day ahead didn’t sit well with them.
Petrohué waterfall was next and the sight of the gushing water passing over cracked lava formations was enough to cheer the kids up. Osorno volcano loomed in the background to make the waterfalls a very photographic stop. Hiking a bit further down the trail allowed us to stand by the gushing river for some photos.
A quick lunch stop was had back near the gift shop of the waterfalls. Apparently, we were on the menu too for some sand flies who feasted on our legs!
The tour continued up the winding road ascending Osorno until we stopped at a car park. From here it would be another half an hour trek to the red crater or there was the option of a ski lift. Our daughter wanted to go on the ski lift and since Mum was not too keen she went with our son on the hike while Dad had the relative easy option of keeping our daughter still on the chair lift!
Dad and daughter waited for everyone to catch up, especially proud of our son for his efforts. We all walked the final steep ascent for a magnificent view of the red crater and views for miles around.
On out hike down the volcano a large metallic beetle landed on Mum and freaked her out. The guide took it and kept it to show his daughter. This didn’t go down well with our son who asked for it to be released, arguing that it should be able to live its life free.
Once back at the minibus we descended the winding road of the volcano to Laguna Verde, named for its green colour, caused by the river meets the lake. We spent time chilling out at a viewpoint by the lake before buying some lollies at the gift shop for the return journey to Puerto Varas. Despite their moans early on the kids did well and enjoyed themselves.
Our friends from San Diego who we met on the Navimag ferry were close to Puerto Varas the next day. Unfortunately, one of the Mums was ill but the other Mum paid us a visit with their son. We found a restaurant in town for lunch and just in time too as the heavens opened with rain. The sun had returned by the time the bill was paid and we walked along the shore of the lake. A rusty boat wreck became the playground for the kids and they spend over an hour playing on it, pretending it was an alien craft that had crash landed. We waved goodbye to our friends that evening but we knew our paths would cross again in Pucon.
The rain had returned for our last full day in Puerto Varas. We stayed in the hostel (which felt very homely) in the morning and chatted to the various travellers who were around. At lunchtime, we took a walk to a monument near the shores and lucked out as this is where the Patagonia Food Trucks were parked up. We had a cheap-eats lunch from the food trucks before taking a final walk into town.
The kids wanted to return to the rusty ship but without their friend from the USA with them they soon argued and play time ended. On the way back to the hostel we stopped off at the Pims Irish Bar for a drink.
With bags packed and onward bus ticket booked we felt heavy hearted leaving Hostal Compass del Sur the following morning. It had been one of our favourite places to stay and we had enjoyed meeting all the travellers passing through. The hostel called a taxi for us to take us to the bus station. Our next adventure would be the University town of Valdivia…