We’re going to the Lake District, they told us when our South America cruise called at the Chilean port of Puerto Montt. We usually associate those words with the tidy parcel we have at home in Cumbria, in the UK, though. This is nothing like it; ‘our’ Lake District could fit into one lake here. Lake Llanquihue alone is the size of Luxembourg. There is a connection, though, albeit a very vague and tenuous one. We had lunch at the Cumbres Hotel at Puerto Varas … which isn’t a million miles off the name ‘Cumbria’
The area contains the Vicente Perez Rosales National Park. Who, I wondered, was Vicente Perez Rosales? I hit Google when I got home, scrolled through the entries about the National Park, and stuff offering me cheap flights and hotels if I wanted to go there, and finally found the Wikipedia entry. Wikipedia usually tells you more about any subject than you could ever possibly want to know, but, in this case, poor Señor Perez got just one solitary line, even though the Chileans thought enough of him to name their first National Park after him.
So, in essence … he was born in 1807, died in 1886 and was a miner, a merchant, a diplomat, a politician and a traveller. And, he organised the colonisation of the Llanquihue area by Chileans and German immigrants.
Beyond that, all we can gather, from his photograph, was that he had a truly magnificent set of side-whiskers. It would seem that the Park named after him is more widely known about.
It contains two sites the Chileans are proud of. The Salto de Petrohue, the guide pointed out, was not a waterfall but a rapid, where the river was squeezed between pillars of basaltic rock. I’ve come across ‘a waterfall that isn’t really a waterfall’ before. The Falls of Lora, near Oban, in Scotland are at the mouth of a river … and they disappear completely when the tide comes in. Not quite the same sort of thing, though. I’d guess a similar sight to this are the Horizontal Falls, in Western Australia … which I have yet to visit. They’re on the list, but some way down it.
Whatever they call it, it’s something I wouldn’t care to ride in an old inner tube. Several people from our ship had visited the Iguazu Falls with us earlier, but we agreed that this was in no way a let-down. A spectacular sight, even with the crowds milling around, making photography extremely difficult.
But, whence came this basalt? We could see the answer from just about anywhere; the Osorno volcano. It is active, although it hasn’t erupted since 1869, and there are many other volcanos in the area, which have erupted since. It’s 2652 metres (8701 feet) in height; a beautiful symmetrical peak, sometimes called ‘Chile’s Mount Fuji’, permanently snow-capped, which makes it most photogenic, and a great favourite with skiers. The coach took us up a winding, zig-zag mountain road to the bottom station of the chairlift, where we were able to enjoy yet another aspect of the peak, and a stunning panorama of the valley below and its surrounding mountains.