After a long and challenging day, a little hiking and a swim in a volcanic lake was just what the doctor ordered. I had found an English-speaking hiking tour on Airbnb (my first encounter with ‘Airbnb Experiences’). Bill Meade is an American expat, who has spent most of the past 30 years living overseas. He’s now retired in Chile, and looking for ways to keep him outside, active and to meet some new people. So he advertised on Airbnb Experiences, offering various hiking tours. So happy to have found him! We set off early for a 15 kilometer hike.
We were a small group – just me and another lady from Denmark, Henrietta. She was traveling through Chile for three weeks, also on her own. I loved this, as we were could really get to know each other. We could also be very flexible – we had no real schedule to stick to, or need to accommodate a large number of people.
We did meet one other couple (happily!). (see picture below) Bill told us that the two dogs were regulars, that they hung out at the front of the park waiting for the first people to show up each day. He had seen them many times before. They seemed to love running the trail. They just wanted human company along the way. When we encountered them, they stopped to say hello, considered staying, but then proceeded ahead. They were following two trail runners that day. They were adorable.
The trail was mostly volcanic sand, which made for slow going. The sun came up quickly, and the day became hot. But I refused to complain – I would compare the climate in Puerto Varas to Washington state or British Columbia. Having such beautiful weather so consistently was such a treat! I was grateful for my hat, and for the lovely snacks Bill provided. We stopped when we liked, having a few pre-determined advantageous stopping points. The views were tremendous. You can see from the pictures that the entire day was relaxing, beautiful and altogether lovely.
About midway, we stopped on a beach and Bill offered us a break and a dip in the water. No one else was there, as the beach is only accessible via the trail. We were all a bit hot and dusty from the hiking, and I was excited at the opportunity to cool off. I knew the water would be cold, but did not know HOW cold. You can see me hesitantly entering the water (below), but you cannot hear me screech with each step I took. The lake bottom was also littered with stones, so I was walking in on my flip flops – a precarious endeavor.
I promise you – if I had not been in Chile, in this breathtaking beautiful place – I would never have gotten all the way into the water. (a later Google search confirmed the water temperature was a balmy 60 degrees Fahrenheit) But I was determined.
Once I finally ducked my head under the surface (oh, that hurt), the water got a bit better. I could relax. It was so gorgeous! I was able to swim, to float and enjoy the experience. I could have stayed there for quite a long time. (see picture below)
Back on our hike, refreshed from our swim and a snack, we were ready to finish up. The volcanic sand made the hike seem longer than it was. Henrietta and I were both ready to be done by the time we saw the parking lot. Fortunately, the size of our group ensured we could be as flexible as we wanted – to go as slowly or quickly as we liked, and to stop for a frosty beverage on the way home. (which of course we did!) What a lovely day out in Puerto Varas. I was a little sad to leave, but so glad to have found this little piece of heaven.