Solange Hando revels in the beauty of the bewitching lands of South America.
Solange Hando revels in the beauty of South America
WE were promised a spectacular flight over the Andes but what was this? For over an hour, we flew cocooned in a thick blanket of cloud, nothing but drizzle on the window.
Then suddenly, Mount Osorno rose above it all, its massive volcanic cone bathed in sunlight, the snow so bright I could barely keep my eyes open. I hoped the camera would capture the scene. It was pure magic.
Minutes later, Puerto Montt greeted us with a gorgeous bay studded with islands, framed by rolling pastures and evergreen forests. We were officially in southern Chile, a world away from the bustling streets of Santiago, the capital, in a pristine land of national parks, mountains and lakes spreading across the border into Argentina.
It was only a short drive to Puerto Varas, the “city of roses” glistening on the shores of Llanquihue, the secondlargest lake in Chile. Osorno followed us, peeping in and out of the clouds, but on the ridge of Calbuco, snow fields and glaciers were just a stone’s throw away.
We strolled along the promenade lined with dark sand, bought Andean ponchos to keep warm and explored the lanes where Alpine chalets stood festooned in flowers and manicured lawns.
A red and white church with fairy-tale spires kept watch on the hill while the last roses of the season left their scent in the air. A nostalgic galleon dropped anchor in the bay and when night came, thousands of lights twinkled around the lake.
Next morning, we woke to the sound of waves crashing on the shore and boats pitching and rolling. Nothing unusual, the locals said, only another storm brought by high winds from the Pacific.
The mountains vanished, the rain made a regal appearance but soon a pink glow appeared in the east as we set off along the road through the Vincente Pérez Rosales National Park, home to around 100 species of trees and exotic birds and plants like the giant Chilean rhubarb.
We gazed in awe at the rushing waters of Petrohué, a river rich in trout and salmon, and boarded a small catamaran to sail across Todos los Santos, the All Saints’ Lake.
That was an auspicious name and there were rainbows and emerald waters and trees speckled in autumn gold.
Peaks drifted eerily through the darkest clouds, crystalline waterfalls tumbled down precipitous slopes and here and there, a remote hamlet nestled in the cusp of the hills.
Sometimes our driver stopped to collect the post or deliver supplies, for deep in the Lake District, this is the only link to the outside world.
Athe far end of the lake, Peulla, meaning “spring blossom” held us spellbound. It was a bucolic village with traditional wooden houses dozing in the meadows, ringed by forested slopes and dramatic peaks.
Now, the sky was blue, the air crystal clear and reeds wavered in the breeze, green, russet and gold. Clouds came and went, trailing
An inquisitive fellow!
A painted Bariloche villa.