Cochamo sits on a fjord which runs northeast from Puerto Montt.

 

We read of Rio Cochamo Valley, a canyon rivaling Yosemite Park, which could be accessed by horseback from the town of Cochamo. Our bus retraced the the route we had taken the previous day until it reached the eastern end of Lake Llanquihue. It then turned south and took a gravel road between the Andes and the Calbuco Volcano. Past the volcano, the road descended into a lush valley and we could see that the Petrohue River, that we had been paralleling, ran into a long fjord. As we continued south, we started seeing, on both sides of the fjord, the grid work of plastic buoys which marked fish farms. The bus stopped in a small village with dirt streets and let us off in Cochamo.

The town was simple but indeed picturesque. We walked down to the water and saw a variety of utility boats used for fish farming. A metal warehouse on the edge of town was a packing plant. There were a couple of hospedajes (hostels) in town and three restaurants, two of which were closed. Most of the residents were away, working.

We decided to walk down the gravel highway to see if we could find a way to access the Rio Cochamo Valley. A few hundred yards down the road we came to a small ranch with a sign for horses on the gate. At the house we were greeted by a friendly lady, who said that indeed her husband lead horse trips into the valley. The round trip took six hours and it would cost $20 per person. She brought a poster out of the house and showed us some stunning granite walls which looked every bit as impressive as half-dome. He husband said that he would be available over the coming couple of days, so we got her phone number should we decide to do the trip.

It was past lunch time, and we went into a new little restaurant on the highway that had just opened. Two young women, who may have been still in school, took our order. We asked them what was raised in the fish farms and they said, "Atlantic Salmon, Corbina and Muscles." We ordered and were amazed at the quality of dishes we received, a beautifully arrayed crab claw salad, an equally well presented plate of muscles with a basil sauce, and a very nice smoked pork chop. We probably spent $7 for each meal.

We were glad that we made the trip to Cochamo. When we got back to Puerto Varas, a check of the weather showed rain moving in, so we did not attempt the horse trip up the Rio Cochamo Valley. Instead, we caught a comfortable bus to take us up the Pan American highway to Valdivia.

Cochamo view

Looking down on Cochamo.

 

Dahlias

Dahlias in a small garden.

 

Vultures

The fish farms support a healthy flock of vultures which keep the waters free of struggling fish.

 

Ibis

The Ibis is common in rural Chile.

church_cochamo

The Catholic Church in Cochamo.

 

Fish farmers.

A utility boat does the shift change.

Honey farm.

Amy bought honey from this bee keeper, then made friends with his Bergamasco Shepherd.

 

Amy and Lope sit with a lamb.

Inquiring about horses, we were asked us to sit and relax.

Rancher's wife with Amy.

The rancher's wife could not have been more friendly.

 

View of the fish farms.

From the rancher's house one had a sweeping view of the fjord and the fish farms.

 

Crab Salad

A crab and avocado salad for lunch.

Muscles

Muscles in a basil sauce.

 

Robalo Restaurant, Cochamo

The restaurant where we had lunch.

Cowboys

Cowboys herding cattle through town.

 

More cowboy shots

Most of Chile's horses stem from the original animals brought by the Conquistadors in the 16th century.