My trip was to take me from Santiago to Talca and finally to Pucon.
Talca is infamous for being the place that Chile’s 1818 declaration of independence was signed. The area is also famous for its wonderful wines so I couldn’t resist doing the obvious and going on a tour of one of the local vineyards and sampling the produce. The dessert wines won hands down for me as I found the Chilean reds were very strong. I stayed at Hostal del Rio which was a nice clean place but not much more than that.
I headed South to Pucon, the adventure capital of Chile, for a week. I stayed in the wonderful jecole! backpackers and had the added luxury of a room to myself.
The town is overshadowed by an active volcano. The township was set up for the tourists and being there in between seasons was well timed with every adventure and form of relaxation that you could want without too many people.
I spend a day getting to grips with Chilean horsemanship which was fantastic as I suddenly got what was so exciting about galloping! The Chilean horses are trained to response to the pull of the reins on their necks rather than being controlled by the bit in their mouth which meant that there was no battle to control them. Well, that is until we hit the spots where they knew that they could gallop and then it was all on. I had a fantastic horse that needed no encouragement to break into a canter. This was a little unnerving at first as it had been awhile since I’d ridden but he had me well trained by the end of the day.
Most mornings were spent walking around the lake and into the surrounding farmland generally accompanied by a canine companion. In Southern Chile in particular the way to raise dogs appears to be to coddle them as puppies and then to let them fend for themselves in later life. These furry locals have picked up the knack of sniffing out the tourists and knowing which ones will part with a pat and half an empanada (a large pastry turnover that come in many flavours and is delicious).
Due to the volcanic activity the area is well known for its hot springs. There truly is nothing better at the end of a hard days walking or riding than to sink into soothing hot water; especially when you know you have a long bus trip to take that evening.The buses in Chile are some of the best I’ve ever travelled on with the ticket collector providing pillows and blankets for the overnight trips. The trip from Pucon to Valparaiso (North East of Santiago) was about 10 hours and, apart from the usual snorers, was a very easy journey.
- Go for a horse ride. Take a carrot or an apple and you’ll have a friend for life.
- Take the bus.
- Always keep an empanada in your pocket for canine emergencies