Puerto Varas

Puerto Varas is an upscale resort town, known for its Swiss and German style of architecture.


We caught the morning bus from Dalcahue and retraced our journey through Ancud and over the ferry to the mainland. In Puerto Montt, we changed to a small local bus and rode the 15 miles north to Puerto Varas. We had reservations at Hotel El Greco, which was a four story, wood framed lodge, heavily decorated with antiques and local paintings in its public rooms.

Puerto Varas is the Jackson Hole of Chile. It's attractive German architecture, and a post card setting on Lake Llanquihue, looking across at the Osorno and Calbuco volcanoes, would alone give it a draw for tourism. Add to that its central access to the recreation of the Andes as well as the ocean and Chiloe Island, coupled with a complete line of hotels and restaurants that range from high end to backpacker friendly, and one has a town that is teeming with vacationers and adventurers.

Recreation ranges from kayaking and tours for the casual vacationer to professionally outfitted extreme adventures including such things as giant wall climbs and kayaking rivers of extreme difficulty. One immediately notices that the tourists here are wearing name brand adventure clothing, and the streets are busy with new SUV's and private cars. European languages are heard at the cafes and the locals complain of all the Argentinians.

We spent three nights in Puerto Varas, using it as a staging point for our activities in the Andes. It had an abundance of restaurants all our meals there were excellent. One evening, we walked back a few blocks from the water and found a small fish market. It featured the largest barnacles I had ever seen and the fishmonger showed how they would draw their deep red bodies back into the shell if touched.

Adjoining the fish market, actually located inside their warehouse, we spotted a small restaurant. The older couple that owned restaurant, Donde El Gordito, spoke English and were cordial. There were only about six tables, but it was decorated warmly, with signed photos on the wall of world celebrities. They had an English menu, and I decided to once again try the seafood stew. The stew was excellent and included the bright red pieces of barnacle like the ones I had seen next door. They were chewy and mild in flavor and certainly brightened up the dish. As we left, they pointed out a signed photo of Anthony Bourdain and said that he had reviewed their restaurant. I later went to Bourdain's website and confirmed that he had indeed done a brief review of Donde El Gordito as part of a trip to Chile.

Bus on the ferry from Chiole Island.

On the ferry from Chiloe Island.



Beach at Puerto Varas

The Osorno Volcano makes a beautiful backdrop for the sunbathers.


A house in Puerto Varas shows its German styling.

Pet supply house

This pet supply shop shows the bright Latin coloring.



Calbuco Volcanoe

A tourist boat moves in front of the Calbuco Volcano


A concert in Puerto Varas.

In their covered arena, Puerto Varas stages free concerts on summer evenings. This one featured a long time idol of Chile who sang Spanish love songs with the swagger of Tom Jones. Amy quickly allowed how it was not her genre of music.