So after we left the Island of Chiloe we headed further south, on the mainland into Northern Patagonia. The weather was dire, no snow just rain up to the top of the Volcanoes.
In fact we saw no break in rain for a continuous 10 days, we saw no mountains and things got a bit annoying. There was just so much we could have seen if only there was a clear day. With an average rainfall 4 times that of Western Scotland it is always going to be like this. This is why you need time in this part of the world, luckily we had 6 weeks in middle Chile so we could wait it out and accept the elements for what they are rather than try to fight it.
We followed a winding road towards Hornopiren and its isolated location, we crossed a ferry and drove 65km along a dead end road. The road was being repaired/upgraded and to say it was rough and sketchy because of this as it hugged the cliff was an understatement. I suspect by next summer it will be paved and smooth, but not so for us! Finally we reached the desolate town, even in sunny weather it must appear depressing, imagine this end of the world run down fishing village in grey skied rain during winter! There are always positives from these experiences, and the dense virgin forest that the road beyond Hornopiren meandered through was such a find. The road was created in 2003 cutting a path where nothing existed before is unique. Hornopiren is a ferry port for the Carretera Austral further south so little if any traffic arrives in winter when the ferry is closed and the road south is a dead end! The picture below shows us driving along it.
The waterfalls we experienced were awe inspiring reminisicent of New Zealand’s spectacular Fjiordlands. As we were leaving the area we came across a fence surrounded by 50 odd hawks called Chimango Caracaras , a stunning sight.Below was a familiar scene, stunning mountains just coated in grey clouds with enough displayed to taunt us of what lay behind!
After rounding the large inlet we headed to Cochamo town past Cochamo Valley the Yosemite of Chile, due to its uncannily similar rock faces. It is a valley that seems constantly under threat from over exploitation, loggig, hydro eletric plants and even too much tourism allowing roads and eyesores to ruin this remote area.
After Cochamo we attmpted to just view not even ski Volcano Orsorno, sadly the cloud was too thick. We entered Vincente Rosales National Park and camped on the banks of the enormous Lake Llanquihue and the emerald green waters of Lake Todos Los Santos, again CONAF let us camp somewhere random, a benefit of quiet winter months. The volcano is the clear highlight but only fair to mention large expanses of leafy forests, waterfalls and picturesque towns that dot this area. We left see the bright forest and emerald waters but the volcano eluded us. The picture below is genuinely that bright no funny photoshop trickery.