When you have two boys in the back of your car who are mad about dogs – especially huskies – and you find out there is an actual husky farm nearby you have to take advantage and go there. Furthermore they offer accommodation, but unfortunately were fully booked. After explaining that we would like to come Konrad, the owner, was kind enough to offer us to camp on his property if we liked. We of course took him up on his offer and happily drove up. On our way he confirmed a cancellation and if we would still like to stay in his cabana? YES please! So we ended up driving to a very comfortable stay and a surprise for the boys.
Driving into the farm the boys caught sight of the Aurora Austral sign and immediately jumped through the roof of the car. We were welcomed by Konrad and given a quick tour of the premises, showing off the 48 dogs (!) he owns and takes care of. Both huskies and eurohounds, true running dogs made for the cold weather and purely bred for that running instinct. On top of that, both breeds had puppies! Difficult to tear them away from the dogs we promised they would see more of them the next morning and we settled into a beautiful cabana for the night.
The next morning we had to come early as the boys were allowed to come for a ‘sled’-ride with the huskies. Being made for cold weather the rides in summer are very short (5km roughly done in 10-15 minutes) as the dogs heat up quickly and can only loose their heat through their tongues – not sweating like humans do. While they can go on for hours in the snow (up to 200km a day!), in the summer warmth they need to be we well cared for as the urge to run weighs heavier than their own insight to stop when overheating. Of course Konrad takes very good care of them and thus is always on high alert whenever he trains them.
Taking a seat in the buggy, the boys are ready to go and the dogs start pulling away. The speed at which they take off is incredible and we see their faces tighten as they fly onto the dusty road. Of course coming back they want to go again, but it is clear the dogs are done for the day. Luckily for Luc, the eurohounds need to train as well, and he is allowed to get on the back of the quad that they will pull along the path. That’s right, the quad is pulled, the engine off, and with only 5 dogs they again take off at a crazy speed! After work there is food of course, so the boys help feeding the dogs and then it is time to play with the puppies (and the adults to have coffee :-))!
Later in the afternoon the boys are allowed to come back again to play with the pups and the following morning they help feeding the dogs again before we say our goodbyes. All in all a great experience (even for dog-hater grandma) and highly recommended to spend time there and learn about the incredible sport of mushering!
Beach Birthday Bo
The next day we cross the country again towards the coast, driving along the lakes and fields and taking in the scenery. Final stop at the supermarket for some final groceries including some birthday shoppings, and then we drive on towards a camping along the river. We find a great spot again with animals (sheep, ducks, cows) and a site right at the water… it turns out to have a nest of wasps as well, so maybe a bit too much on the animal side, but that gets taken care of by the owner.
“Can I get out of bed yet?” is the first thing we hear the next day, as Bo is of course very keen on birthday surprises. We decorated the tent the night before and prepared cards and gifts, so we are ready, but as we want to bake pancakes for breakfast he will have to be patient just a teeny bit more. Then finally it is time to get out, open presents and read the cards. Unfortunately it has proven to be difficult to find some things in Chile, so he is promised a gift for later, and is allowed to find a ball and spade from the grandparents.
Luckily for him we go to the beach that day and before we even get there find a market with balls and spades! Instant satisfaction, so set up with an orange spade and a green-blue volleyball we drive out to the beautiful Tril Tril beach. With no facilities the beach keeps a private feel, even on a weekend day. A sweet water stream/river flows into the sea here, creating a lake behind the shore to swim in. Perfect as the ocean has already proven to be outrageously cold – not so cold to stop us from taking a dip later in the afternoon, but still – and this way the day is spend with creating dams and digging holes and eating the birthday cake we kept cool by keeping our cooler sideways :-).
In the evening we say goodbye to the cows that joined us at the beach and drive two bays back to the town of Maicolpue where we find a beautiful restaurant with a sea view. The two main meals – fresh fish and empanadas – are exactly what we were after, and to celebrate once more we toast with Chile’s national cocktail; the Pisco Sour! Some more cake for dessert and even the crew singing ‘feliz cumpleano’ to Bo, wrapping up a perfect 6th birthday. Coming back to the campsite Bo is even allowed to join the son of the owner on his quad back to our site… what more can you wish for?!
Puyehue between cows and horses
Time to go back inland as we zigzag through this beautiful country. This time we head out towards Lago Puyehue and its National Park. We shop around for campsites which is something we have become quite good at, looking at the pros and cons and deciding then. This time the trade off is shelter/shade/hot water shower vs private/cold water/cheaper. The last one wins, being Dutch and all, and we make our way to the meadow with cows and horses to set up our site. The wind picks up a bit, but dies down again in the evening and gives us a stunning sunset lasting much longer than normal due to the position of the field between two mountains.
Two hikes planned for the next day; one to the Salto de Pudu and one to a viewpoint over the lake. In between we drive all the way up the volcano Casablanca which has a small ski resort in winter, now almost deserted. With all that hiking and driving, and knowing we only have a cold shower at the campsite, our bodies are in need of some warm water. Good thing we are close to some thermal pools, which are literally dug out from the riverbank by people to enjoy the warm water. Going back and forth between the cold river and the hot pools is exhilarating, and to top off this spa treatment we get a pack of mud from a local to treat our skins some more. The experience is a lot of fun and FREE, so we go back fully revived and ready for our next adventure.
Chilly Chiloe – brrr
Our final destination together with the grandparents is the island of Chiloe, the 4th largest island of South America and a destination in itself. The way there is a long drive from our starting point in Puyehue, especially because we take the scenic route along the lakes and pretty towns such as Frutillar. We stock up in Puerto Montt and drive on to the ferry to take us across the sea and onto Chiloe. The drive taking longer has also delayed our lunch, so as soon as we hit the land, we take a right and eat in the first town where there is a local event happening.
Not having booked anything turns out to be not such a good idea here, the island is a top tourist destination for Chileans, and none of them want to camp it seems as the weather can be very unpredictable. We shop around finding everything ‘no disponible’, even in the furthest outposts, which then forces us to do the one thing we did not want to do: Set up our tent for only one night. The views are spectacular across the bay, but the wind picks up vehemently and even setting up the tent behind the restaurant does not keep it from being harassed by the wind. The owner says it will die down at 8pm (then says 10pm to dad and 12pm to mom)… and then leaves.
Moral of the story: the wind does not die down until 2am, then comes back on at 4am to finally go again early in the morning. Of course this means the morning is beautiful and we forget about the horrible night very quickly (the boys slept through everything by the way) and go about breaking down the tent and moving on. We drive across to another bay with protected penguin inhabited islands for a peek and a drive across the beach (even the van of the grandparents makes it across!) before moving on to explore the rest of the island.
Next week: More of Chiloe and back to 4!