A short drive of 120 km today so we decide on a late departure – good thing for those of us who with some trepidation went with Dave and Laurel last night to the best German restaurant in town in the German Club. As it turned out it was the only German restaurant in town and we were the only customers. Dave went the full nine yards and ordered Eisbein while we watched in awe. It must have been the house speciality because all the fish dishes were very ordinary. Luckily the Chilean wine made up for the quality of the meals.
The drive out of Puerto Varas took us to the Carretera Austral Route 7 which followed the coast south to the first of the many ferries we will be catching over the next week. The clouds started lifting and we caught glimpses of the impressive snow covered peaks towering over us. We had been warned of the many roadworks along Route 7 which the Chile Government is seriously upgrading to attract more tourists to this spectacular part of the world with its unspoiled rainforests and challenging adventure opportunities. As we get closer to Hornopiren the stretches of new bitumen start becoming longer which is a bit of a relief and we didn’t find any seriously rocky sections of the old road. What a fantastic road it will be when it is fully sealed.
Hornopiren is described in the guide books as a frontier town which is pretty accurate. Someone with a bit of spare cash should be investing in the expectation of an adventure tourist boom when the road is sealed. Today it is fairly run down and as we drove through the town centre a crowd of locals were wandering around the recently burnt down remains of what would have been the largest store in town. A bit sad but hopefully they bounce back. As it was still too early to check in some if us drove out to the start of the National Park. Not easy to find with almost no sign posting and Garmin took us the wrong way we finally made it to find there were several walks starting with a 2.5 km walk along the river. A bit of exercise sounded appealing but the track was very muddy and tangled with exposed roots so we gave it away after a few hundred metres and headed back for a beer. Our accommodation at Hosteleria Catalina is pretty basic but easily the best option in town and our host is very excited to have us here – and it has wifi!