South America – Puerto Montt

We had a full day at sea before we got to Puerto Montt so we took advantage…we listened to wonderful music, participated in a game show with the cruise staff, and watched an illusionist.

We had a wonderful dinner in the dining room, the “Floating Island” dessert was delicious.

And watched a balloon drop in the Atrium. It is funny how excited people get over balloons.

After a very relaxing day at sea, we arrived at Puerto Montt, which is on an island about the size of Jamaica.  It is part of the 2,000 islands that make up the Chilean Fjords.  The port is too shallow to dock at the pier, so it was about a 15 minute tender to shore.

After arriving at the pier and getting our picture taken, we met our tour guide Gabriel and driver Carlos.

In Chile, every guest must carry a completed Chilean Affidavit-Customs and Agricultural form.  We also could not bring any unpackaged food on shore.  We played it safe and didn’t bring any food or drink from the ship.  While leaving the port, we passed Our Lady of Mount Carmel Cathedral.  It is a Catholic church dedicated to the Virgin Mary.  It also is the seat of the archbishop of Puerto Montt.  It was built in 1856 but was not elevated to a cathedral until 1939. It’s main structure is composed of birch and is designed to resemble the Parthenon. There is also a cross high above Puerto Montt.

Our first stop was Todos los Santos also known as Esmeralda Lake.  We had a bit of a drive so we learned the history of the area. Puerto Montt was once covered in a dense forest and was named Melipulli.  The area was discovered by German Explorer, Bernardo Philippi, who suggested bringing German settlers. They arrived in 1852, the area was cleared by burning the forest, and Puerto Montt was established in 1853.  The city is named  for Manuel Montt who was the Chilean president from 1851 – 1861.

Puerto Montt was 1 million residents with 300,000 from German heritage.  The German tradition of Oktoberfest is carried on in Puerto Montt, except it is celebrated in February and is known as Beer-fest.  This might contribute to the area having one of the highest alcoholism rates in Chile.  However it has one of Chile’s lowest illiteracy rates – go figure. High school graduates have to take a competency test to determine college eligibility and course of study.

We traveled through several towns.  Given that redwood is prevalent in the surrounding forest, most of the houses have redwood shingles.  Most are heated with wood.

We arrived at Lake Esmeralda and boarded the boat at Petrohue for a trip on the lake.

Lake Esmeralda is located within the boundaries of Vicente Perez Rosales National Park.  Rosales helped organize the colonization by Germans ans Chileans in the area. The lake covers 69 square miles and has a maximum depth of 1100 feet. and was formed from glacial and volcanic processes.  A glacier retreated leaving a valley basin with rivers flowing through it.  A lava flow then blocked the lower part of the valley, forming the lake.

We stood at the back of the boat of the top deck to get a good view.  The pesky clouds were hanging low of the mountains.

Occasionally we had a burst of sunshine

There is one island, Isla Margarita, but to us there appeared to be two…hmmm

In the right lighting, the water is a deep green color.

There are several “resorts” on the lake but are only accessible by water.

Back at the dock we noticed the erosion caused by the recent heavy rains, and as we rode on the bus, noticed the catch basins with water.  Gabriel kept saying that the forecast called for rain, but that his wife was praying for sunshine.

Our next stop was Petrohue Falls, which is in the boundaries of the national park.

It is a short hike to reach the waterfall which is a chute-type waterfalls.

Since we were there at the end of the summer, the water levels were low, so can’t imagine what it is like in the spring. The chute part of the falls is on the left.

The more traditional part of the falls is on the right.

As the water exited the chute, it was a spectacular color

Being that we were at Petrohue Falls, we thought that was the main attraction.  Gabriel had told us that if the clouds moved, we would be given another surprise.  We patiently waited for our view of Osorno Volcano.  It is known as the Mount Fuji of South America. It was an awesome view and well worth the wait.

We could have stood there all day…the volcano is 8,701 feet tall.  It is considered one of the most active volcanoes in Southern Chile along with  it’s neighbor Calbuco.  The most recent eruption was in 2015.

Okay that was pretty lucky, that the clouds moved as we were standing there.  It was now time for lunch.  As with most of the tours on this cruise, lunch is included. We would be dining at a local resort in Puerto Varas.

The foyer of the resort was adorned with hand-made replicas of cottages and buildings from the surrounding area.

They always start by serving a Chilean Pisco Sour.  We do not drink but we have been told they are delicious.  Gabriel calls it the national drink of Chile.  While everyone enjoyed their drink, we started with a “scone” and salsa.  The main dish was salmon and potatoes, with blueberry cheesecake for dessert.

Gabriel said that potatoes are grown due to the volcanic soil…we laughed, that is why potatoes are grown in Idaho.  At one time sugar beets were the chosen crop, but they are no longer grown as it is less expensive to import from Russia.  The big cash crop is salmon.  24 years ago, it was discovered that due to the lake temperature being a consistent 54 degrees F, and no extreme seasonal temperatures, that salmon could be grown in the nearby Lake Llanquihue.  The salmon are hatched, then placed in nets in the lake.  Once they get to a certain size, they are transported to nets in the Reloncavi Sound which is salt water.  The salmon are harvested and taken to local fish packing plants.  Salmon is now the third largest industry in Chile.  They also export 2 types of seaweed to Japan and China for sushi and a 3rd kind to Norway for face cream.

After lunch we were dropped off in the center of Puerto Varas. It sits on the shore of Lake Llanquihue and offers additional views on Osorno Volcano. The lake is the second largest in Chile covering 330 square miles.

Puerto Varas is known as the City of Roses.  There was a variety of flowers in and around the city square.

We only had about 30 minutes to explore, but found a few things of interest ( there was a small concert being held in the square.

Near the lake, there is a monument to Bernardo Eunom Philippi who helped colonization the area.


Gabriel gave us one last bit of trivia.  Some of the houses are painted bright colors, because it rains so much, the citizens were suffering from depression.  The government thought bright colors were help with morale.

Then it was back to the port.  Our daughter’s alma mater, William Penn men’s basketball was playing in the national tournament, so we took a picture to show our support from Chile.

We watched as the last tenders came back to the ship and then as we sailed out of port. Our last official day on the cruise ship…

Being the last day, we wanted to squeeze in everything we could.  We watched a movie on deck with snacks.

We watched a show by the ship’s singers and dancers in the Atrium.

Then we put our bags outside of our door and headed to the top deck for some star gazing.

While we waited for the activity to start we enjoyed the moon.

The assistant cruise director was able to have the lights on the top deck turned off.  She then pulled out a laser stick that is so powerful it is banned in Australia, but it helped to point out the stars.

We were able to see the constellation Crux better known as the Southern Cross.  We also saw Gemini and Scorpius. We wished we had better cameras, but it was still a very cool experience.

As we stood looking at the Southern Cross, we couldn’t help but sing the words to the Crosby Stills & Nash song…”When you see the Southern Cross for the first time You understand now why you came this way”.  This was our second time seeing it as we saw it from Mauna Kea in Hawaii.  The excitement never gets old, what a great way to spend our last night on board.