April 28, 2010 GMT
Chile to Argentina

We based ourselves there for a couple of days before riding out to Valparaiso, a coastal town known for its corrugated buildings and Bohemian vibe. From there, we followed the coast road as much as we could southwards before heading back inland to the Chilean Lake district and Pucon.

Riding into Pucon was a surprise to say the least. After hours of riding through valleys and alongside lakes, we turned a corner, and found ourselves in the middle of Villarica Swiss Alpine town. It was incredible. The ski shops, cafes, restaurants and hotels all looked like they had been imported straight from Klosters or Davos.
We parked our bikes up and went for a walk in search of a good lunch stop. We ate in an equally Alpine style wooden restaurant, and then strolled around the town. We rode the final 40 minutes or so to Pucon, which also had a distinctively Alpine feel, and we all liked the place immediately. We found a hostel and settled in.

Set around Lake Villarica, Pucon is a popular ski resort in the winter, which transforms itself into an outdoor activity centre in the summer. Hikes to the still smouldering volcano Llaima overlooking the town were on offer, as was mountain bike trails to waterfalls, trips out on the lake and a variety of outdoor pursuits, however, the weather had been on the change, and on our second day in Pucon, the clouds rolled in and the rain came down. We passed the time walking round the small town, tasting the locally made Swiss-style chocolates, drinking coffee, and window-shopping. There was an earth slide on the volcano meaning that hiking up it was impossible, and to be honest , I was relieved. I had had my fill of scrambling up Volcanoes, and was more than happy to put my feet up in front of the telly and relax for a bit.
After a couple of days in Pucon, we were ready to move on. We were all heading to the same place, but Carlo and Toni were going to head out on the dirt road, while Jacquie and I would take the tarmac.

We headed out early in the morning, a day before Toni and Carlo, and rode out the way we had come in, past the beautiful lake, under the watchful eye of the Llaima volcano, and onwards towards the Argentine border once more.


We rode on through more lush green fields and valleys, passing more volcanoes on the way. We stopped for a warming hot chocolate and a snack, the temperature had been slowly dropping since we left Santiago, and by now we were back to wearing jackets and neck warmers on the bike. Reinvigorated, and now wearing an extra pair of socks, we pulled out of the roadside snack bar and onto the road that would take us to the border with Argentina. The sun shone brightly as we rode on, the landscape alive with colours of blooming flowers, volcanoes to our left and to our right. It was beautiful.
I rounded a corner, and here, in the middle of nowheresville, we came across the Moncopulli Museum. We spotted it by the 50ís American car hanging over the doorway, and had to turn around and go check it out. I spoke to the receptionist, explained that we were just on our way to the border and had no Chilean money, and she agreed to let us in for a quick look for free.


We were amazed at what we found, dozens and dozens of beautiful old American cars, mostly Studebakers, with a few odds and sods thrown in, plus a small display of 50ís memorabilia. Opened in 1995 by a private businessman from Osorno, the museum was a joy. After snapping a few pics, we were back on the bike and headed for the border.

We made one last stop at a beautiful waterfall, before following yet another lakeshore until we reached the border. The frontier was in the middle of a national park, high in the Andes, and was the most beautiful border we had ever crossed. The crossing was not busy, and we were out of Chile and into Argentina in no time.

Posted by Dan Shell at April 28, 2010 08:06 PM GMT

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