South America 2009 – Chile (1)

Sunday, 25th January – Friday, 30th January

We dropped down from a high pass over the Andes to the village of Puella. There are bags were searched for fruit and other foodstuffs by a jolly customs official at the custom post. We lunched at a hotel before continuing the Lake crossing. We passed a number of snow capped volcanoes on the way, culminating in close up views of the Orsono Volcano, with its characteristic cone.

For three nights we stayed in the Chilean Lake District at Puerto Varas, with views of the Orsono volcano from our balcony. The first day we were on a group tour to Chiloe Island on the Pacific coast, renowned for its cedar wood churches (all World Heritage Sites), and cedar shingled clad houses. On the next day we had a half day tour with a pretty drive around part of Lake Llanquihue to Frutillar where we visited a partly finished theatre (where they have a summer festival), and a German pioneer open air museum.

We flew from Puerto Montt to Santiago, the capital of Chile, where we were met by a guide who took us on a tour of the city, and then on to Casa Real, a hacienda on the Santa Rita vineyard. The hotel is the home of the owner and is in amazing parkland setting with a large variety of fruit trees. It has a private chapel and a pool at some distance from the house (but with a telephone so you could ring for lunch!). The owner’s son accompanied us by horse drawn buggy on a private tour of the winery and the owner’s private museum. The hotel is very exclusive and there were only 5 guests on the first night, and 13 on the second when the owner and his daughter entertained us to dinner in the dining room, and afterwards on the terrace. During the stay we could sample as much of the vineyard’s wine as we liked. The Sauvignon Blanc and Carmenere were particularly good.

Trad. – Alturas (from ‘The Soothing Sound of Pan Pipes’)