Relaxing by the Lake

After four days on the road, and my body trying to tell me that it is no longer in the condition it used to be in, I am having a rest. Villaricca seems as good a place as any to stop, especially when it is at a hostel run by a pair of RTW cyclists who decided that here was where they would stop.

From Santiago I got a bus with Linea Azul to Chillan, to avoid the crap riding on the motorway south of Santiago. Since then I’ve had 3.5 days on the dual carriageway Ruta 5, and half a day on the (good) road to Villaricca. After here, the dirt roads will start.

From Chillan, I rode to Salta del Lajos, a waterfall, where I was the first camping tourist of the season. Apparently the others are still 3-4 weeks away. I was all alone in the campsite. Still a ripoff at $10USD for cold water. Prices are per site, rather than per person, making it expensive for one.

Next stop was a very dodgy town, Chollipulli. There’s something odd about seeing Chilean kids trying so hard to look like an American skater, right down to the pants down low showing their boxers. Especially when you’re in the middle of a town that is very much NOT the USA.

There is quite obvious disparity here in people’s incomes. It’s odd stopping at a services area that could be in Europe, then next stopping at a little shack on the edge of a field, to grab an empanada. I don’t think it’s coruption (like say China or Central Asia), more it’s that some people have adapted faster to the changes since Pinochet’s time. There is some serious money behind the agricultural procesing plants, and huge houses in the Lake District here.

Another day down the Ruta 5 from Chollipulli to Temuco, then a nice easy ride out here to Villaricca. Didn’t expect Villaricca to have as many flash places as it does, but I guess it’s a rich person’s playground.

Met my first touring cyclists yesterday, and had a chat about where to go from here. The current thinking is that I may be better off going to Argentina in the next day or two, moving south, then crossing back to Chile around Futaleafu. Seems as good a plan as any.

  • Bike in box at Santiago
  • ...and the bike in one piece again
  • Chess playing was being taken quite seriously here
  • I liked some of the older houses in the area I was staying in
  • Nice streets too - notice the bike path between the trees and road?
  • I like these curving streets/buildings too. Reminds me of Europe
  • A big sprawling city
  • It must be disappointing when you put a big statue on top of the hill, then some bugger comes and builds and even bigger TV mast next to it
  • These people were all gathering around someone shouting and ranting. I think it was political (this was just before the election) but it could have been a comedian, as there were a few laughs. Don't think it was a religious nutter, they seem to get the same attention as the guy in Oxford St
  • A park like this ran along much of the river running through the city, with paths well suited to bikes, and many Chilenos out on their bikes using them
  • Random building I kinda liked. Up in the rich part of town, near the UN building. (Surprise, the UN was in the rich area...)
  • Pretty impressive Christmas tree to put in front of your train garage, especially when they don't seem to be running passenger trains these days
  • Random street view out my hotel window in Chillan
  • The lost the last church to an earthquake. Clearly they don't want to lose a second
  • The first Oreos! As all cyclists who have been to China know, these are the most important fuel you can get. Sadly they're just not as good here as in China - not enough cream in the middle.
  • Random bus stop where I was having a food/drink stop
  • Back on the Ruta 5
  • You don't often see a huge long string of pylons with no power cables
  • Salta del Lajos, a waterfall where I stopped to camp
  • First campsite. I was the only one there. The owner told me that it would be another 3-4 weeks before most tourists showed up.
  • This was the view from my campsite. Unfortunately they don't turn the falls off at night, so it was a little noisy.
  • I'm not sure what I expected of Chilean housing, but I don't think it was rows and rows of identical duplexes.
  • All the rivers run one way, west.
  • That's what I want to see
  • They do have train! But only freight it seems.
  • Ever present to the east, glimpses of the Andes
  • George W´s message has been getting through here too it seems.
  • Note the shrine on the right, with thoughtfully placed seats.
  • I used to be able to drink several litres a day of fluourescent soft drinks, but I seem to have lost my touch - it took me days to get through this bottle
  • Installed in a hotel room. Note the washing on the towels - I'm about to do the towel trick to speed up drying
  • And this was the bathroom, almost HK-style cramped.
  • Bye bye Ruta 5 - it goes south, I´ve turned south east
  • And onto this road. The last day of easy riding. Note the smooth shoulder. This will all just be a dream soon. The volcano is peeking through in the distance
  • Lago Villaricca. The scenery around here reminds me of the South Island of NZ.
  • Note the gravel footpath - but then the beautiful roses planted by the owner, who had many more on their property.
  • Close up of the flowers
  • As much as you can see of Villaricca volcano - as ever, most mountains are shrouded in cloud.

3 replies on “Relaxing by the Lake”

  1. I'm so jealous!
    I wish I was going to be there to meet you.
    Enjoy the lake district – chilean and arginentine sides – absolutely beautiful!
    Don't forget to visit our hostel if you get to mendoza!

  2. Fair enough Jan – a 1 year contract is worth taking. I just have to hope something works itself out job-wise when I return.

    Nell, yeah, it's a bit of a shame you can't be here. Provided I have time left (which I should do) I'll probably get to Mendoza late in my trip, maybe around early March.

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