Villarrica, our second city as Digital Nomads, and we could feel the goodbye of Valdivia, but it was time to move on and find our new shelter for the coming weeks.
I had already located in google maps the house where we would stay and my first impression was the place where far from the city center, in the end nothing was very detached from the reality, we took a taxi near the terminal and I just saw how the taxi drove up into the hill and I said to myself “This is in the middle of nowhere, taking buses will be difficult, we won’t want to go outside” at the end we came to a house in the area of Los Santos name acquired for obvious reasons, all streets in the area have names of saints.
One of the ways we used to go down to the city of Villarrica, the same where we climbed the taxi to the house. Lake Villarrica in the background.
If we went down to the center of the city using one of the two streets of the hill we could see the whole city and the Villarrica lake, if we used the another street we could see the imposing Villarrica Volcano, the reality is we were far from the downtown, but it was a spectacularly quiet and fresh, the place had a bus for going down the hill and to be honest we never used it, the same thing we did in Valdivia, we prefered to walk five kilometres to downtown, but the difference was this was a hill.
Second way down to Villarrica, usually we used to go to the supermarket and a few blocks before we could see the Villarrica volcano.
Our host was traveling with her family but her mother greeted us and that’s how Mrs. Eliana came to our adventure, guardian and creator of the best jams of Villarrica, very friendly and attentive woman who made us feel at home, literally because we moved firewood.
The home of Mrs. Eliana is great, small to the naked eye and cozy, decorated with memories of many trips and a fireplace in the middle of the room that heats the place. Our room was large enough to hide the whole house we carried in our backs and with a gas heater that was for us on many occasions the most wonderful artifact of the universe that Natha named Cristina.
Central stove of the house where we stayed, Mrs. Eliana usually cooked or heated water in it.
About the area I can say it has many houses and like everywhere in Chile some houses are transformed into groceries, bakeries and mini markets, so we had everything we need in case we didn’t wanted to go to the supermarket. One of the interesting things about the place was almost every house were guarded by dogs in the garden so sometimes was a bit annoying, but there was a house in particular that had no dogs in the garden if not three chickens that seemed to look after the place and we only could imagine who lived in that house as “El Macho” (The villain of Despicable Me 2).
After five kilometers down to the supermarket, we could go down a bit more and have this view of the Villarrica volcano.
We did not take even a day to decide to explore the place, in our room there were brochures of tours in Villarrica and Pucon or activities such as rafting or horseback riding at the Volcano and obviously we never acquired any services of tour or activity, but was excellent guide to decide what explore in these great cities.
Eventually we opted for something simpler, Mrs. Eliana had told us about Lican Ray and how simple it was to reach, just down the hill we arrived with one of the multiple pathways to go out of Villarrica and it was like that.
We paid about 900 Chilean pesos per person for the bus, this was the average bus fare in Chile and was a trip of about 30 minutes through the mountains, to us the landscape was great, at any time we searched to see the volcano from the bus window, we looked like two kids fighting for the window as if we had never seen a mountain in our lives.
The truth is we didn’t really knew what we would going to see in Lican Ray, so along the way while I wasn’t fighting with Natha for the window I was looking on internet places to visit in Lican Ray, which resulted in a list of things on different blogs recommending Playa Grande, Playa Chica, la Caleta and the Peninsula.
The map told us the most closer place was Playa Grande so we walked to it from the point where we left the bus, a fairly short walk as it is a small town, a place without waves because it is a large lake, we assumed that in summer it must be great but now in the winter you can enjoy the calm of the place.
Playa Grande in Lican Ray.
Then we realize that to our right it was the Lican Ray Peninsula, a hill abundant in vegetation between Playa Grande and Playa Chica and next to its entrance were yet Playa Grande it was the colorful Caleta that then had the same tones as a film by Tim Burton.
The entrance to the Peninsula looked completely closed, we stood there a few minutes figuring if we could or should go into it, until one dog passed under the gate and went in, so we decided that if he had the right to go we too.
This is the entrance to the Lican Ray Península and the dog who actually get in first us and guide us all the travel.
A completely natural tour guided between the trails for a few signs, the photo we took to the map at the entrance and the dog who entered first than us, we enjoyed the multiple viewpoints that were in the way to reach the other exit that left us at Playa Chica.
Playa Grande and Natha, from the Peninsula of Lican Ray.
Playa Chica from the Peninsula of Lican Ray.
In Playa Chica we saw the first humans from the city, which seemed like minions because they were dressed from head to toe in orange color, they were workers improving the beach and structures, apart from them and the bus driver, those were the only people we saw in Lican Ray since by more we walked in it back to the square, from the houses only came dogs, which for some reason started to follow us, when we got to the square we were escorted by about seven dogs, and here we took the bus back to Villarrica and the warm stove in our room.
Playa Chica, Lican Ray.
For our second adventure in Villarrica we decided to get to Pucon, depending of the Bus Service you take the passage could be between 500 (Buses JAC) and 900 (small buses less private) Chilean pesos, if you count the fact that we had to pay roundtrip those 500 per trip became huge savings off the 900 and more for two people.
The ride is really short on the edge of Villarrica Lake and is very common for the people traveling between Villarrica and Pucon each minute, so you’ll always have buses.
Already in Pucon we really had no idea what to do or see in this town, we had only read of his great tourist spots and hot springs, but we didn’t really know very well neither issues, so we just started walking and a two blocks later we casually found the tourist office in the town.
Full of brochures of all kinds of tours and activities we could learn a little about everything we could visit, the lady gave us maps of the place with the position of all the hot spring that we never visited and also gave us a list of things we wanted to hear like the Villarrica Volcano, Huerquehue and Caburgua Eyes, the last place for the time seemed more reasonable and less complicated.
Reaching to the eyes was really easy, we should just take a bus in the terminal across the street from the JAC Terminal in Pucon, there we would take another bus to Caburgua and it would cost about 700 pesos per person, on the bus we had to tell the driver we would stay in Los Ojos (The Eyes) because they are in the middle of the road well before the final destination of the bus.
The bus driver dropped us at the entrance to a dirt road that had a large sign indicating that in 300m we would find the Caburgua Eyes and The Blue Lagoon, after walking a while we came to an empty magic box, in which we should ring the bell for the appearance of the charon of our wallet to charge around 1000 pesos per person to get in to see the eyes and the Lagoon.
Once inside we found more natural landscape where 70 percent of the wood were 20 percent signs and 10 percent railing to prevent you fell overboard or you try to get into the water, even you had a sign saying that you should respect the signs.
Absurd amount of signs arriving the Eyes of Caburgua
The place is really small but fantastic and it perfectly breathes nature, when you get to it the first thing you notice is that the on other side is another wooden path but you do not understand how to get there and obviously we asked about this, the thing is half Eyes and Lagoon are patented by someone else and legally the name is the same but they reversed the places in the title, if you want to get to the other path it is another way and allegedly cost the same.
And I slipped ridiculously in this wooden path descending a stair, luckily my camera was saved by that sixth sense of caring our devices.
Eyes of Caburgua
In short I could say that the bus back and forth between Villarrica, Pucon and the Caburgua eyes plus the cost to the place cost us five dollars per person, something reasonable to see this natural wonder and well, already back in Villarrica it was time for our usual five kilometers home.
Innocently we visit this national park around noon, to realize that the bus only part from Pucon in the terminal across the street from the Terminal Jac and has only three outputs in the day (DEPARTURE: 8:30, 13: 00, 16.00 RETURN: 9:30, 14:10, 17:10) and by the time we arrived and all the things we could do in Huerquehue, It was absurd to go on the 13:00 bus, so we went for an Empanadas and we returned back to our warm lodging to drown our sorrows in jam.
Recall that if Chile the bus depart says at 8:30 will not come a minute later, nor less, the bus punctuality is impeccable and this almost returned us to the house on day two, we reached at 8:28 to the Terminal JAC but luckily we just needed to run across the street and there it was waiting our bus that if we paid about 3600 Pesos per person sell us a round-trip ticket, really recommend to save some money.
Already in the park after a bus trip where we were the only two passengers on a bus for 20 people, it was time to pay an entrance that cost us 2000 pesos per person because it was low season, here we received information about the multiple paths and the possible time it would take to get across them, note that to the tourist office the place was completely closed because the snow, personal advice ignore comments from the tourist office, just visit the places and find yourself if it is closed or not.
The place was not closed, but completely filled with snow, which for me was a paradise because it was the first time I saw snow in my life, it was a difficult way up and especially down because we were dressed as if we lived day to day in a cold city without snow equipment or anything like that, but we survived.
Tinquilca Lake, the first lake we saw in our path in Huerquehue, to take this picture I climb on this floating bridge in the water a little separated from the shore, before reaching the bridge my shoe was on the lake.
Lago Chico, Huerquehue.
Lago Chico, Huerquehue
Laguna el Toro, Huerquehue.
Lago Verde, Huerquehue.
Natha has a very interesting and dramatic version of this adventure, she speaks about my constant annoying face when we were going down because I considered she was walking really slow and how difficult it was to move with her shoes in the snow, but seven hours in this park between its trees, lakes and obviously snow, was one of the best natural experiences that we lived in Chile, and what surprised me most is that we spend about eleven dollars for the two to live this experience.
Again in Villarrica I was about to tell to my dear Natha we should climb five kilometers to the house but to disguise I bought her an Alfajor first and then I said it.