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South America Cruise on the Silver Whisper


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Puerto Montt
Orsono Volcano and Lake Llanquihue

Our lunch stop at a restaurant on Lake Llanquihue near Ensenada, Chile included magnificent views of the Osorno Volcano. Having the alpacas on-site adds to the photo, doesn't it?

Orsono Volcano and Lake Llanquihue (c) Linda Garrison
The Silver Whisper covered 267 miles from Puerto Chacabuco to Puerto Montt. Our arrival was delayed a couple of hours because of the high winds we had when trying to leave Puerto Chacabuco, so our tour didn't leave the ship until 10 am. The captain adjusted our departure time so that we could have the full day tour.

Puerto Montt is the largest town in south central Chile, with about 300,000 residents. It is located in Chile's lake district, which also has many mountains and volcanoes. The town is architecturally unatrractive, primarily because it was completely destroyed in 1960 by a 9.6-level earthquake. When it was rebuilt, the focus was on getting buildings completed, not on aesthetics. We anchored in the harbor and used tenders to go ashore.

Our tour, "Scenic Mountains and Lakes", was an excellent 7.5-hour tour. We had about 65 on the tour, divided into 2 buses. We rode north from Puerto Montt on the Pan-American highway (one of the few highways in this region), turning east at Puerto Varas, a charming town on the shores of Lake Llanquihue, the third-largest lake in South America. The drive was quite scenic, with green hills and several volanic ones topped with snow. The 8700-foot Osorno Volcano was the most dramatic, with its Mount-Fuji-like conical shape. It hasn't erupted since the 1870's and experienced climbers often make the trek over the icy snow to the top in less than 5 hours. The dirt on the shoulder of the road looked more like ash than dirt, and I'm sure it is filled with both crushed lava and ash.

Our first stop was at Lake Todos Los Santos (Emerald Lake), where both buses boarded a catamaran for a ride around the lake. The catamaran must have held 150 people, so the 65 of us could spread out and enjoy the complimentary hot chocolate/coffee and stand outside comfortably (not have to fight for rail space). I found it interesting that to get to Argentina, people drive to Emerald Lake, take a boat to the other side, take a bus to another lake, take another boat across that lake, and then finally get a bus into Argentina. It's less than 50 miles from Emerald Lake to Argentina, but not that easy to get there! Not many roads in the mountains of Chile.

The boat ride lasted only about 30 minutes, and we were soon off, retracing our route back towards Puerto Montt. We stopped a few times on the return. The first stop was at Petrohue Falls, where we walked about 10 minutes or so down to the glacier-fed Petrohue River and falls. This time of year it's more like a series of cascades, but was still impressive. Our bus stopped at a nice restaurant on Lake Llanquihue for lunch. We had marvelous views of Mount Osorno and the lake. The lunch started with empanadas (I think all lunches in South America start this way), followed by grilled salmon, mashed potatoes, and mixed vegetables. Like many in the lake district (and elsewhere in Chile), the owners of the inn/restaurant were of German descent, and we had a German dessert called kuchen, like a moist cake filled with raspberries. Very good. Of course, it was all washed down with wine.

After lunch, we had plenty of free time to get photos of the volcano and the llamas, alpacas, and emus that live at the inn. It was another gorgeous day, and we sat in the swings and watched the animals and the volcano.

Reboarding the bus, we went back to Puerto Varas, the city of roses, stopping downtown for a handicraft shopping opportunity, with time for a walk along the lake and more photos. A second volcano Calbuco, came out of its cloud cover on the ride to Puerto Varas from the lunch stop at Ensenada. This volcano is flatter on top and has jagged sides. It erupts more frequently, most recently in 1961.

We got back to Puerto Montt about 4:30 and stopped for a photo op of the downtown area from the top of a hill. We also rode around the city a little before getting back to the tender and to the ship around 5:15. The town has many homes built from redwood and topped with metal roofs, but doesn't have as much personality as others we have seen.

I missed part of team trivia, but got in for the last half of the questions. It was formal night, and Mom and I both had the crab appetizer, and she had the pork chop and I had the fish for our main course. I had the "wellness" dessert and mom had her usual cappuccino. The show was the six-member troupe singing ABBA songs. Lots of fun. Kind of like "Mama Mia" without the acting.

Our last full day on the Silver Whisper was a sea day, followed by disembarkation in Valparaiso and a flight home from Santiago.

South America Ports of Call on the Silver Whisper

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