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I know why they call it Chile’s Lake Region

While eating dinner last night Bob and I were talking to our waiter, a young guy who spoke very good English, which isn’t overly common in southern Chile. He told us about a town to the south that is on a large lake and has yet to be spoiled by tourism. It has an unusual church and it was in the direction of the thermal spring we didn’t get to the other day. The road to Panguipulli was scenic, starting with a fairly flat drive through farmland and then we hit some hills and the pavement went to dirt. That was OK, that usually means more scenic and remote and it sure was this time again. We were on a narrow road high above a large lake. The day had started cloudy but the sun was breaking through and when we came across an overlook the light was great. Streaks of sunlight poured through the clouds lighting up green meadows, mountains and the lake. It was quite the scene and we made a ton of photos before driving on into Panguipulli. 

The town is right at the northern end of the very large Lake Panguipulli. A lone tree stood on the town’s beach but it didn’t look like a place where there was a lot of swimming. I didn’t dip my toe in the water but I’m guessing that since it was glacier fed it was pretty chilly. We then went into the main part of the town and saw the church. It, like much in this part of Chile, has a strong German influence in its design. It has two large steeples on the front and a smaller one on the back. The colors were tan, red and black, quite different from what I would expect in South America.

It looked like it could be in Bavaria and is in need of a good coat of paint. Like most of Chile, the town is modern. My research told me that I wouldn’t likely find donkeys pulling carts on dirt streets and that sure is the case. Cell phone signals were strong everywhere except the most remote areas and people take pride in their buildings and the streets are clean. Many homes aren’t fancy, they look like they are on a subsistence level but that is fine. We didn’t feel threatened anywhere we went.

On the map I saw a cemetery on a hill above the town and we drove up there. It was a large cemetery and full of well kept memorials to those who had passed. Many were decorated, there were lots of photos as part of the headstone and quite a few large structures to honor the dead. It was a lovely scene overlooking the town and the lake. I wandered to one corner and came across something I hadn’t seen before, a children’s section. The graves were small and many had little fences around them. There were at least 100 of them, some look like someone came every day. Others were rather neglected. It was a sobering sight.

We left town and drove south along Lake Panguipulli, which is 8.5 miles wide and 19 miles long. It is surrounded by the Andes Mountains and amazingly beautiful. There are several scenic pulloffs above the lake that give you a view out over the lake and can make for nice photos. At the end of the lake is the small village of Choshuenco, only 20 miles from the Argentina border. I considered driving over to Argentina since I’d never been there but this is a scouting trip and I don’t think I’d take the group there during the workshop, so I tried to stay focused on my mission.

There wasn’t much in Choshuenco but the beach on the lake was lovely. It wasn’t the prettiest or warmest of days so the beach was pretty much empty. As remote as this location is I don’t think it could ever be a packed beach. On the beach there is a wreckage of an old steam boat, it has been propped up so people can climb on it and there is a sign telling about the life of the ship. Of course the sign is in Spanish so I didn’t understand most of it.

Also on the beach is a lone tree, which always captures my attention. I don’t know why but I love to photograph a tree that separated from others. There was one on the other end of the lake on the beach at Panguipulli, but the light and clouds were better for this one. The green of the tree stood out from the lake’s water and surrounding mountains and I just like the way it all came together.

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