Day Twenty: Rio Petrohue Rafting

Huge hydrangea bushes!
Huge hydrangea bushes!

Brian and I woke up to partly cloudy skies again. We hoped it would clear up because today we wanted to go white water rafting. The owner of our place called a company in the morning to see if they had spots for us. Sure enough, they had two spots for their afternoon session at 3pm. That left half a day to play with and get to the other side of the lake where the rafting tour began (about 1-1.5 hours away). We decided to arrive the other way around the lake today to see some new sights. We took the dirt road close to the lake from Puerto Octay to Frutillar. We drove past farm after farm with countless cows and sheep. We saw a sign for cerveza artesanal so we decided to pull over and check it out. An older, German-looking man told us there was no more beer and to come back next week. Hmmm… I thought. Must be a pretty small brewery or something. Or, maybe he just didn’t want to deal with us. Who knows.

Wooden church in Frutillar
Wooden church in Frutillar

We continued to the town of Frutillar. We parked the car and walked the main waterfront street stopping in artesania markets. We bought a whole box of raspberry for $2 and a box of strawberries for $1. We absolutely LOVE the availability and low prices of such a variety of fruits. Berries tend to be pretty expensive in Rio. In contrast, they are everywhere in Chile! We really liked the small lakeside town of Frutillar. The sun was out with a little wind and even though the temperature was probably only around 70 people were still out sunbathing on the shore. It would not have been a beach day for Cariocas.

Osorno in the morning
Osorno in the morning

After Frutillar we continued along the road to our next stop in Puerto Varas. We had already stayed there the first night in the lakes region, but it was the night I got bit by the dog, so we really didn’t see or do much. We walked around town and did a little shopping. We left the town with a few souvenirs, and ingredients (salsa & chips) to make guacamole with our avocados. On the 45 minute drive to the rafting place I made guacamole in our small camping pot and we savored the taste of it.

Next up was white water rafting! Before they took us to the Rio Petrohue, we got a short safety demonstration and instructions. It was all in Spanish, but we understood most of it. Then they passed out gear. I was happy to see they gave us wetsuits, jackets, and booties. Brian and I weren’t exactly prepared to get our current non-waterproof clothing soaked. When everyone was ready, all twelve people loaded into the VW van and off we went pulling the trailer with two rafts.

At the river they split us into two groups. We went with a father and his son and daughter. After a very quick practice we were off on our way down the river. This was my first time rafting so I didn’t quite know what to expect. Brian had gone a few things before. Brian was sitting front row in the raft and then I was behind him. Shortly after getting off we hit our first rapids. Our guide would yell “Adelante! Adelante!” as we headed into the rapids. “Fuerte! Fuerte!” if it was a bigger one. When we heard “Adelante” that meant we needed to paddle. The first time I heard him say that as we entered the rapids, in my head, I thought “Are you crazy? You want me to paddle as we get washed around? I’ll fall right off this raft!” But I did as I was told and no, I didn’t fall off. The first couple sets of rapids were the biggest. At two different times in the middle of the first couple rapids our guide yelled “Piso!” which means floor. We had to drop into the floor of the raft. For the bigger rapids it was safer down there.

After about 20 minutes our guide pulled our raft to the edge of the river, in a calmer section. He said we had the opportunity to jump off a rock into the water. Brian and I did it twice. Being in the river gave you a quick idea how fast it moves. Surprisingly, the water wasn’t too cold. We got back in the raft and headed down for more rapids. As we went farther down the river, the rapids became smaller and tamer.

At another point, when the rapids had calmed, our guid said that anyone who wanted to could jump out of the boat and float down (we had lifejackets on). I thought he was joking or that I misunderstood his Spanish because the river was still definitely moving quickly. But he wasn’t joking. Brian was the first one out. Then the two kids jumped and I followed. Feet first, we let the river take us down. it was a lot of fun! I was a good experience because you realize how quickly the river takes you. When it was time, the guide pulled us back into the raft and we continued down the river. In total, our guide said it was about and hour and forty-five minutes that we were on the river. When we pulled the rafts shore we met the van and got our dry clothes to change into. We rode the van back and the guides had pisco sours and some snacks ready for us. Brian and I really enjoyed the rafting. The scenery down the river was spectacular. Part of the time we could clearly see Volcan Osorna, and other times we could see Volcan Yates. It was impressive We also lucked out with the weather. Hardly any clouds, just lots of sun.

Volcan Osorno in the sunset light
Volcan Osorno in the sunset light

We drove an hour back to our B & B. We arrived just as dinner was going to be served. There were a few more groups of people that had arrived at the place. Nadia, the wide of the owner Armond, cooked great dinners every night. Tonight we had chicken, stir fry vegetables, a sweet corn side dish, salad, and what looked like deviled avocados. Yum! They were sliced avocados with a deviled egg mix on top. All the food was delicious, especially after a long day out. To go along with the food, we opened up a pre-made bottle of pisco sour. We walked with the other guests and watched the lighting change on Volcan Osorno as the sun went down. Brian wanted to get a better view to snap photos so we got in the car and drove to a more open space. Back in our room, we settled down and went to sleep.

Volcan Puyehue
Volcan Puyehue

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