Valdivia/Niebla (Región de Los Ríos)
Our journey to South America started with a quick 3 day stopover in New South Wales, Australia to visit Max’s parents and grandparents in Jervis Bay. We enjoyed good food, wine, company and sunshine.
Our flight from Sydney to Santiago was delayed by an hour but we were in no rush so it didn’t bother us in the slightest. After a long 12 hour flight with little sleep, we caught a bus from the airport to the bus terminal Alameda where we loitered for 7 hours before taking a 11.5 hour bus down to Valdivia. We had just under 2 weeks in Chile until we were off on our first solo adventure (in Peru).
Amber (my best friend of 15 years from NZ) and her partner Pablo picked us up from the bus terminal and our hosts while we were in Valdivia. We went off to Niebla straight away (15km from Valdivia) which was to be our home away from home. After all that sitting, finally we were able to stretch our legs out and have a horizontal nap! And a shower too..
While in Niebla, we visited the Niebla Fort, the various beaches surrounding Niebla, took the car (via boat) to Corral where we wandered along Playa de Chaihuin (as we couldn’t see the National Park in the rain). We tried some local cuisine at the markets; camaron, jaiba and queso empanadas, anticuchos (skewered meat/sausage) and pastel de choclo (Max’s new favourite meal).
We bicycled to Curiñanco (this was the longest 41km of our lives). The aim was to do a walk through the National Park but we were exhausted after only one way on the bike, we settled for lunch overlooking Playa Chica instead.
In Valdivia, we walked along the rivers, through the botanical gardens and around the city. We celebrated our 3 year anniversary with a delicious Argentine steak lunch at Parrilla de Thor with Kunstmann beer and a pisco sour. The lunch was a bit spendy but amazing food and service and we were definitely full afterwards!
The Kunstmann brewery is on the way to Niebla, where we had some beers (except for me – note wine always comes in a bottle) and tried crudos, which is a raw mince dish served on bread with onions, gherkins, chillies, lemon and a creamy leek mayonnaise.
The rest of our time was spent sleeping, lying in the sun reading, doing yoga or planning our where to next
Pucon (Región de La Araucanía)
We planned a long weekend away with Amber and Pablo. The drive to Pucon was beautiful, especially through Villarrica with the snowy peak of Volcan Villarrica, the surrounding mountain ranges and blue lake front views. We stayed in a cute cabaña in Caburgua (22km from Pucon) while we visited the Expo Pucon Chef (with food demonstrations from chefs around South America and various products which were available for sale). We had a delicious meal at D’Toro of spinach and ricotta tortellini with chicken for me, and baked salmon with a corn mash for Max, as well as and happy hour of beers, pisco sours and daiquiris.
While in the area, we went to Playa Blanca, Ojos del Caburgua (beautiful clear blue lakes and waterfalls) and Volcan Villarrica, where we were delighted to play in the snow but we were unable to drive to the top of the active volcano due to the snowfall (which was unusual for snow in November). We stopped at El Castillo for Kuchen and hot chocolate/coffee, which was delicious and Cafe 2001 for late lunch/early dinner (as it was rated #1 on tripadvisor, but our findings were A LOT of children, too much tomato and quite basic for the price).