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CHILEAN PATAGONIA AND CENTRAL CHILE. THIRD PART: PUERTO MONTT – VALPARAÍSO

These lands are full of incredible places. Here we are going to talk about the ones I know personally, but there are many others that deserve a visit if you go through this itinerary. For example, Pucón and Villarrica National Park, Huerquehue National Park, Conguillío National Park, Tolhuaca National Park, Laguna del Laja National Park, Concepción... All of them are amazing places. These are the ones I know first hand and I can talk a little more about:

 

- Puyehue National Park

- Valdivia

- Santiago

- Valparaíso and Viña del Mar

Puyehue National Park

A little-known gem located between the Los Lagos Region and the Los Ríos Region, not far from Osorno (80 km east, near the border with Argentina). It is part of the Temperate Rainforest Biosphere Reserve of the Southern Andes. As in other parks, trekking is the star activity, with dreamlike landscapes to travel with your boots: forests, rivers, lakes… And volcanoes! Climbing the Puyehue volcano is a very recommendable excursion, in which after reaching the top you can see the lava flows of the last eruption (2011) in addition to the sensational views of the valley that you just left behind. Thera are a couple of shelters where you can spend the night for free: one at the beginning of the route and another right at the foot of the volcano.

 

But this Park also offers natural spas to relax muscles and mind. When you get to the Hot Springs, you will first see a hotel and a hot spring pool, but the best is waiting outside. In the middle of nature, small ponds (magic puddles!) that sprout from the ground will make you die of pleasure in that oasis. Being immersed in warm waters surrounded by those lush forests is priceless.

Valdivia

University city with a lot of charm, history and culture... And where the sea lions that inhabit the channel stand out. If you want to see sea lions up close, do not go to Patagonia... Come to Valdivia, where you will have them two feet away begging for fish! Things that can be done in Valdivia: admire the handicraft (Mapuche influence) and taste the local gastronomy in the Municipal Market and the Market of Niebla (neighboring town that deserves a visit). Let’s eat seafood!; walk through the center and see the historic buildings; stroll along the along maritime walk (and observe the Valdivian sea lions); partying (great nightlife).

Santiago de Chile

The Chilean capital, with the spectacular backdrop of the Andes, is big and cosmopolitan. It is a good stop to "rest" of so much nature (especially if you come from south to north). What can you visit in this great city? Of course, the downtown area: Plaza de Armas, Plaza de la Constitución, Palacio de la Moneda, etc; Some of its interesting museums: Museum of Pre-Columbian Art, National Historical Museum (both are in the Plaza de Armas), Museum of Visual Arts...; the Santa Lucia hill or the San Cristóbal hill, from which magnificent panoramic views of the city are obtained; the markets.

Valparaíso and Viña del mar

Valparaíso, a bohemian port city that exudes art and chaos in equal parts. Strolling along the (steep) streets of Valparaíso, sandwiched between the sea and the hills, with graffiti, paintings, statues and sculptures everywhere is a gift. That artistic disorder is what leaves every traveler a mark. If you are interested in alternative ways of life, take the opportunity to visit the Ecovillage Corazón de Agua, on the outskirts of the city.

 

Viña del Mar, on the other hand, is the rich neighbor. The port and buildings with graffiti are replaced by sandy beaches, parks and big houses. However, it is not the best beach destination (too crowded). If you want to go to relax at the beach, look for one sandy spot further north. By the way, near Horcón there is a bay where free camping is allowed.

 

Valparaíso was the last station in Chile. From there we went back to Argentina, this time to the northwest area. Keep reading here.

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