Pucón, San Martín de los Andes, Bariloche and the lakes
After four years working in Chile, my contract had finished and my work visa was expiring. I had to leave the country to return as a tourist if I wanted to stay longer. I did want to stay longer - the absolute last thing I wanted to do was go back to Europe just at the beginning of winter. So I went on a trip to Argentina. I headed first of all to Pucón, to see Villarrica erupting. It had had a big eruption in March that was over before I even had a chance to jump on a bus and head down, but it was still more active than usual.
I spent a few days in Pucón, watching the volcano at night from down by the lake.
One evening I was at the lake and I'd just set a series of photos going, when I saw a bright light near the summit of the volcano. I thought for a moment that it was lava, but could soon see that it was skiers descending. The mountain was officially closed so I didn't know who it could be - whether they'd sneaked up there or were volcanologists who'd been to look at the crater, or what. I found out later that it was mountain guides, protesting about the closure of the mountain. They were arguing that it was safe to visit the crater now and that their livelihoods were being ruined. The protest was successful - a few days later, access to the mountain was permitted.
I got a bus from Pucón to San Martín de los Andes. I only spent one night there, and it was very quiet. I hiked to Mirador Bandurrias, for a great view over Lago Lácar.
I travelled on to Bariloche, where it seemed to be ultra-low season and I had a hostel to myself for three days. After Bariloche, I travelled back to Chile, going via three lakes in the Andes. The first step of the journey was across Lago Nahuel Huapi to Puerto Blest.
Another short boat journey took us across Lago Frías. After that, we crossed back into Chile, and got a boat across Lago Todos los Santos. A cloudy day was turning into a sunny one as we headed towards Volcán Osorno.
Volcán Calbuco had erupted in May. I'd gone to see it, but I'd been out of luck and the weather was bad for two days. I'd gone back to Santiago without seeing anything. Now I was back in Puerto Varas, and it was really upsetting to see how close the volcano was to the town. If I'd had clear skies, I'd have seen epic, epic views of the ash column surging up into the upper atmosphere.
Osorno is famous for looking a bit like Mount Fuji. Its perfect cone looked pretty good across Lago LLanquihue.
I watched the sun set from down by the lake, then headed to the bus station for a night bus back to Santiago.