Crossing the Andes with Matthew

I crossed the Andes! And it was less difficult than in  The Mission. Look it up, great film. Also today was one of those days I wish I was a geoscientist, although readers out there who are, you're in for a treat! My journey was on the Cruce Andino, a route that combines bus and boat travel across the Andes to Chile from Argentina. 

 On board boat number one heading west towards The Andes and Chile.  

On board boat number one heading west towards The Andes and Chile.  

We started out day very early in Bariloche. After a short bus ride to Puerto Pañuelo, we boarded a fast catamaran to cross Lake Nahuel Huapi. During the crossing the Andes grew closer and closer as we went further west. The water became greener, changing from the dark blue color at the shores of Bariloche. 

 The change in color of the water was quite dramatic, happening almost instantly.  

The change in color of the water was quite dramatic, happening almost instantly.  

After reaching Puerto Blest, we boarded a bus for a short portage (I'm literally using that word right here) to the banks of the Lago Frías (which if you remember from yesterday has a milky wintergreen appearance because of the sediment in the glacial runoff from the black glacier). On arrival we boarded a boat to cross the lake and arrived at us the Argentine Border. At this point we were 700 meters above sea level (and at this point the sea in question was still the Atlantic). 

 Boat number two across Lago Frías.  

Boat number two across Lago Frías.  

 Getting closer to Chile.  

Getting closer to Chile.  

After a somewhat confusing process to get out of Argentina (seriously I want to work on the translations they say on this tour into English for them sometimes), we boarded what amounted to a off road bus and climed into the Andes and towards the Chilean border. After what looked like a segment of driving from a Top Gear Christmas Special, we reached the high point of our journey and the Chilean border— 1,000 meters above sea level—and crossed the Continental Divide. 

 While the Argentine border control is in the lake shore, the actual Argentina-Chile border is marked by this simple wooden frame. The Chilean border control is actually nowhere near this but a half hour down the mountains in Puella.  

While the Argentine border control is in the lake shore, the actual Argentina-Chile border is marked by this simple wooden frame. The Chilean border control is actually nowhere near this but a half hour down the mountains in Puella.  

 I'm in Chile! 

I'm in Chile! 

Our driver then continued our journey into Chile and through the Andes, negotiating crazy turns and sharp corners. Pretty much crazy driving. We then reached our next stop Puella, which is where we cleared Chilean customs, and had lunch. It was the definition of a tourist trap as you can only get there and leave on a tour. 

 Our off road bus across the Andes. The guy driving this was a pro.

Our off road bus across the Andes. The guy driving this was a pro.

After lunch, we headed by boat across lake name, known for its emerald color. As we crossed the lake, two volcanoes came into view, one of which, Volcano Osorno, is active! It apparently erupted as recently as in the past few years.

 On board boat number three, and deep into Chile. This was the first volcano we saw, and it had eroded into this jagged peak like appearance.  

On board boat number three, and deep into Chile. This was the first volcano we saw, and it had eroded into this jagged peak like appearance.  

 Volcano Osorno. Just amazing.  

Volcano Osorno. Just amazing.  

After we landed in Petrohué, I was treated to an amazing volcanic landscape! This town, located literally on the base of Osorno, is covered still in volcanic dust, which brings me to the last sight we saw, a lava waterfall! This waterfall was formed after an ancient eruption of lava reached a river that flows to the Pacific Ocean (yup, I've crossed a continent). This has lead to some interesting lava tubes and other awesome volcanic formations. We didn't have that much time there, but what I saw was amazing!

 All that volcanic dust in Petrohué!

All that volcanic dust in Petrohué!

 Volcano eruption created waterfall.  

Volcano eruption created waterfall.  

To end the trip, we drove along Another lake, the largest in Chile entirely and one of the largest in South America, to Puerto Varas, where I am today before my flight to Punta Arenas, and the bottom of the earth!  
 It was a full day of travel and we didn't get to Puerto Varas until after 8:00 pm.  

It was a full day of travel and we didn't get to Puerto Varas until after 8:00 pm.  

Overall the Cruce Andino was an excellent experience and something that if you're ever down here you must do. Also interestingly enough Puerto Varas is directly due south of Long Island where I grew up. So if you're ever asked what is south of suburban New York, a correct answer would be an active volcano and the Pacific Ocean! Amazing.