From Buenos Aires to Pucon

9 de MayoI’m writing this after having just returned from Chile for the fourth time. It seems like no matter how often I go, I still have that urge to return again, and I have a feeling my relationship with Chile is not at an end yet. I began this trip by flying into Buenos Aires, Argentina, one of the most diverse cities in South America. I’m not particularly fond of big cities (despite being from a relatively large city, Ottawa, the capital of Canada), but Buenos Aires is quite a thrill. Theatre shows and street performances abound, the restaurants are magnificent, and the meat is really good.
After our short stay in Buenos Aires it was back to the airport for a flight to Bariloche, which straddles the Argentine/Chile border. Very different from Buenos Aires, but just as full of life and activity, with a great night life. A large river runs through this area, and for a small fee you can take a raft out onto it. This is just like home, where the massive Rideau Canal runs through Ottawa, a popular rafting spot in the summer and skating and ice hockey venue in the winter.
PuconFrom here we crossed the border into Chile and on to Pucon, a resort town with rivers of its own in every direction. What with all the mountains, it’s not surprising so many different rivers and lakes abound through Chile.
After getting set up in town, we headed to the kayak shop, where the owner went above and beyond the call of duty by giving us a great map of the region and highlighting many of the different put in and take out spots, as well as other points of interest. We jokingly asked him if he could write a guide book to the area, as we’ve been looking for a good one for some time.
We first put in at the class III run near San Pedro, a relaxing stretch with scattered beaches all over the area, great spots to hop out and relax if you ever need a breather. There’s a hotel right at the put-in, and you can arrange to have someone meet you at the take-out spot afterwards, which is always a nice convenience.
Next up was Rio Fuy, my favourite area of the trip. This river has three distinct sections, each with varying terrain. The upper section contains a good number of drops, leading up to 5 waterfalls. It’s a challenging section, great for experienced rafters. The middle section is even more challenging, so much so that it’s actually un-runnable.Huilohuilo National Park surrounds this area, and taking a walk along its trails is highly recommended.
We ran the upper section without incident, having a great time, after which we stumbled upon a hotel which we were completely unaware of in this area. Close to the Huilohuilo National Park and at the end of the middle run, this charming little hotel looked like it was plopped in the middle of Chile straight from a portal to Middle-Earth (that’s from the Lord of the Rings for those not in the know). If this hotel wasn’t inspired by the hobbit holes of the shire, I’m surely a smelly orc. You can bet we took a lot of great pictures of that place, which we’ll treasure for a long time.

Villarrica Volcano
The next day we took on the lower section of the Fuy, a wider and deeper stretch of river than the upper. This section is classic river rafting at its best. We stayed in this area of Chile for a couple of weeks all told, making runs at nearly all of the local spots we knew of. After two great weeks of rafting in beautiful weather, it was as tough as ever to leave Chile and return to that dreadful J-O-B, and the frozen winter of Canada, but God willing, I’ll be back again someday soon.