Now we are already on the way to Santiago de Chile (by bus) und we are done with cycling for now. Michu will travel around with his family for the next few weeks and afterwards continuing towards north. I will go to Los Angeles mid of April and cycling north from there. But first we had a little problem with a volcano…
Melipeuco – Conguillo – Curacautin
Volcano Llaima was on alert level yellow, which meant that an eruption can happen within days or weeks. When we were driving from Cunco to Melipeuco, we were of course the whole time looking if something can be seen. However, the volcano was hidden behing clouds and wasn’t visible till we reached Melipeuco. Luckily that changed when we were eating our sandwiches at the main placa; but no signs of an eminent eruption. Because we got different information about if the Parque Conguillo (volcano Llaima is in this one) is open or not, we decided to stay for the night in Melipeuco. If it would erupt, we would have a great view as well. But nothing happened and we went sleeping therefore…
At 3h in the night, there was suddenly a siren going off in the village. I haven’t been so fast out of the bed and on the window for a long time; but again nothing. Some people were running around on the street but that was it. As we learned later, it was a false alarm.
It was still not clear the next morning, if the park would be open or not. The Carabinieri in the village were very friendly but couldn’t give us a final answer as well. Therefore, we decided to just try it. This worked out pretty well so far. So we kept driving the hill upwards towards the park entrance. On the way we heard again the siren but ignored it. Also nobody was stopping us so far.
We finally reached the park entrance. And there, the barrier was really closed. We got told, that the volcano is on alarm level yellow and the park closed, therefore. After some discussions, he said that we would have to be again out of the park at 18h and wanted to know, if we could do that. That would be around 5.5 hours and we thought, that this should be possible (without really knowing how it would look like). He got the permission by radio and we were allowed to get in. But no over night staying and if we wouldn’t be out at 18h, the Carabinieri would search us…
So we kept going uphill. First through some forest and afterwards across older and never lava fields. The volcano was calm, the sandy road exhausting. But we took km after km and even had time for some picture taking stops. Finally, we reached the Araucanias (typical trees in this region) close to Laguna Conguillo. At that point we got a bit frustrated that we were not allowed to stay over night because it looked beautiful. But I could at least learn, that I had one of those trees just in front of my apartment in Lucerne, Switzerland ;-).
We kept going and after some time, we reached the control within the park and registered us there as we were told. We should have any problem to be out on time, we thought. But just afterwards, the road got extremely steep and we weren’t that sure anymore… Surprisingly, we reached the end of the park already before the told 37km. We were one hour to early…
The road kept going down across an area which was devastated by hot avalanches during the eruption of 2008. Definitely not the place to be during an eruption…
Because everything was closed, we kept driving till Curacautin. And Llaima was already pretty far again…
Curacautin – Termas Manzanar – Curacautin
After the somehow exhausting ride yesterday, we went today to the Termas Manzanar. We planned to do that at the end of our journey but a hot bath is also good in between. We didn’t just soak in the hot water, we also enjoyed a very nice lunch there. And all together for around 30 USD. It’s almost unbelievable but we were really full afterwards and did not even think about getting some Kuchen on the way back so we really can recommend that; even for cyclists :-).
And there was something else as well. We were just doing the dishes, as we thought somehow to move around a bit. First idea was, that it was the wine which we had for dinner. But when we recognized, that also the rest of the kitchen was moving, it was clear: this is an earthquake. The question was now only, if it was a weaker closer one, e.g. the volcano Llaime or a stronger one, which happened further away. We got the answer already a very short time later on TV: It was a pretty strong one (7.1 on the Richter scale) and a few hundred kilometers away in the Maule region. There it was pretty heavy but luckily no Tsunami was generated. For me, it was a soft introduction to earthquakes.
Curacautin – Cherquenco – Vilcun
We had now the choice either more or less cycle straight to Temuco and finish our bike adventure for the moment or to cycle again closer to Llaime. We decided to do the second. Therefore, we were biking back on the road which we took two days ago. The volcano was still on yellow alert but nothing special could be seen. We decided after a few kilometers to stay for the night and to camp. Unfortunately not camping was really open; also not after waiting for several hours. And we were not really in the mood for wild camping. Therefore, we took the second time a cabana. And with it, we got a snoring dog :-). And for me the possibility to do again some night pictures. The result can be found here.
After a great breakfast, which was brought to our cabana, we kept going uphill. The weather got hotter and hotter and the road worse. Big stones and sand forced us to push the bikes for a longer time. Extremely exhausting and slow. We were making just around 7km/h. But the landscape was great and we got a bit compensated for not being able to stay in Parque Conguillo.
We passed the Centro de Esqui (ski center) and drove down again. On the way, we made some pictures of Michu and me cycling. Probably the only ones we have ;-). We planned to stay in the village Cherquenco but there was nothing. Therefore, we kept cycling till Vilcun and were pretty sure, that we would get something there. However, we had again a hard time to get a bed. Finally we got a room in a house. The bedroom was ok. The rest we better forget. But at least it was cheap and we had a bed :-).
Vilcun – Temuco
After a surprisingly relaxing night and a good breakfast, we drove further towards Temuco. Our last cycling day together. There is not much to say except that there was for sure less traffic on the carretera austral. We reached Temuco already around lunch time and went to the Hospedaje TribuPiren, which I already knew from my last journey. For celebrating the day and our journey, we went for dinner to an Italien restaurant in town. And the pizzas there were so big, that we were happy to walk back home for some time. But they were great, as the last 1.5 months together have been :-).
That’s it for now. Thank you very much for reading and writing! Maybe I will write some conclusion thoughts and other stuff about my last days in Chile. Depending on what I’m going to do. Otherwise, starting from mid of April, you will get here the news about the cycling journey from “Los Angeles (California) to Anchorage (Alaska)”.
All the best from the bus to Santiago,
PS: As usual, the best pictures can be found in the gallery :-).