After I left Maria and her family’s house, I ride towards Temuco. It was very easy to find a place to camp along the way. Besides there were also cheap trailer parks called Hosteria on the roadsides in Chile.
Before arriving to Temuco, Onur and Ayfer, who had traveled from Alaska to Patagonia and were on their way to back with their motorcycles, sent a message.
- Gürkan, we will be at Temuco at afternoon, where are you?
- Got it! I will also be there at afternoon. The one who arrives and hauls up first, sends the coordinates.
In December 2016 when I arrived in Buenos Aires, Argentina, I met a wandering motorbiker named Namık straight off the bat, who told me about a South American Whatsapp group they had created. I learned about Onur and Ayfer’s journey from there. http://ayferonurseyahatnamesi.com/
A bicycle road starts right at the entrance of Temuco. The bicycle road markings in this city were also pretty good. I easily went forward to city center but saw that they made bicycle roads on to the main streets but on side streets. I couldn’t understand if I failed to notice or not. Meanwhile, Onur and Ayfer also had arrived in city, we met at a gas station in the center.
They are a couple living in America since 2001 and traveling since then as occasion serves. They have told me that they had started their current tour back in 2016 in Atlanta. They were on road with BMW F800 GS (when I have published this article they were already in Turkey). All the details of their tour are written on their websites. When I first saw the motorbike, I yelled ‘Whoa!’. The big boy looked really heavy. Especially in the Patagonia winds, controlling these motorbikes in summer and spring is much more difficult than riding on a bike in South America. When the wanderers come together and share their stories, the time just slips by. It was getting dark when they asked me where I was going to stay. I said: “Of course at fire station”. They told me they had never stayed at a fire station on their journeys before. Normally getting permission is easy for me but there were more than one fire station centers in Temuco and we went one of these, so I had to go to the center and had to get permission and it took a while. But in the end, they provided us a nice room to stay and pleasure of shower.
Since Onur and Ayfer came up through Patagonia, they provided me latest news both from the South and about road’s condition. They gave me some useful information. While they were down there they also toured all over the Antarctic. I’m also dreaming to go there one day, but it seems it won’t happen this year. Let’s hope for the best. Meanwhile, we watched the acceptance ceremonies of firefighters who finished their training in the fire station where we stayed. At a chilly evening, they were beating themselves with the ice-cold water which was streaming out from the fire truck. I call it “beating” because the pressure of that water jet is not normal.
I could only spend one evening with the couple Onur and Ayfer, they had also long way to go, like me. We will meet again in Turkey or in a place somewhere in the world anyway. Instead of going down to Osorno after Temuco, I decided to ride through Pucon and visit Bariloche and then proceed on road to see the view of the Osorno Verger from below.
I’ve heard from a couple of strangers that Pucon is a beautiful town, so I needed to go and look. They’ve told me the road between Temuco and Pucon was quite crowded in summer. As far as I’ve learned from the locals its somewhere like Cesme (a famous resort town west of Izmir in Turkey) in summer. Besides, it is the town where Ironman 70.3 race is run in Chile, a popular destination. On the road I saw two ads related to the hydroelectric power stations that are supposed to be built. The Chilean people are trying to protect Patagonia as much as they can. In the following days, I learned that they were standing on the result of a few projects.
The first town en route before you arrive in Pucon is Villarrica. It is a small settlement, but the view at the entrance of the town is superb. The people in the village earn their living with tourism and fishing. The view of the Villarrica Volcano at the village’s entrance, which is closer to Pucon, is also amazing. Wait is that a smoking volcano?
I swear it is. I didn’t know that this volcano was still active. I spent the night setting up a tent in the backyard of the fire station. And in the morning, I woke up with a Zumba activity in the dance school on the upper floor rented from the fire department. For a while I watched the dancers. If I had that agility I would also dance but I don’t have any. Especially after being on the bike so many years, I’ve been in cast iron mode.
I strolled around the town for a couple of times. After I had my breakfast against the view of Villarrica Lake, I hit the road again. After this point, there is not much distance left to Pucon anyway. As I move on the road I pass by a biker I see ahead of me and who carries bins alongside his bicycle.
There are many people who use the bicycle as a means of transport in the region. As I said in my previous writings, almost every town or village have their own bicycle lanes, so whenever I see bikers carrying load on the road, I consider them as one of the villagers. There are bins on all sides of the bike in front of me. Two minutes after I had passed him, another biker appeared with bins. I turned around and I looked at this guy, then looked at the one in front of me and I finally realized they were also wanderers. I immediately caught up with the one in front of me and greeted him, we had a small talk.
They were two college students from Santiago. They decided to travel on their bikes from Temuco to Pucon and to a few more beautiful places in the region on their 10-day vacation. And they made their bike panniers from lightweight plastic bins. These bags are quite useful but there are chances of breaking or cracking when the bike falls on its right or left side. In fact, I saw that by several cyclists that they were broken at the connection points. They might be useful for short distances or a week, a month’s journey since you can find spare parts or an alternative when they are broken. Then I left them and continued to ride on my own pace.
At the entrance of Pucon there were flags from many countries, usually among those flags I don’t see Turkey’s. Those flags are usually related to the intensity of tourists coming to the region. If we consider the high passport charges and the dollar situation in my country, even for those whose income are high, 2 weeks’ Patagonia visit with full holiday packet is not affordable at all. Among those flags a flag caught my attention. United Arab Emirates. Here, of all places! I don’t think I will see Arabs traveling in this region with their burkas and white garments. Because the weather is too cold. I followed the main street which enters the city. Wow! What the hell? The environment in this place suddenly felt like I’m in one of the villages in Switzerland.
I have learned that it was in 1923 that the region met with tourism. Before that Pucon used to be a military base. The region was explored by Argentine troops by following the Mapuches, the original inhabitants of the territory. Passenger transportation over the lake had started in 1940. It is a magnificent place, especially because it hosts Chilean native tourists every year. Perhaps now that I’m here in winter, it looked much more attractive to me. From what they told me, in summers its bulging at the seams. In the region, there are volcanoes, waterfalls, national parks where outdoor sports activities are done. There are several large and small lakes around the city. There is also a very nice spa center on the way to the Argentine border, not far from Pucon. I took a brake and entered this nice spa, then I got back on the road. Since the city has foreign tourists coming from all over the world, there are bars, restaurants and selections of international dishes. It is a nice destination for cyclists and backpackers, there are areas to camp and comparing to summer prices, in winter the hostel prices are also more affordable. There is a small fire department in the city, they didn’t have a garden large enough to set a tent.
It is close enough to a big city like Temuco. There are universities, hospitals and many more facilities in Temuco. Of course, an active volcano is a danger, as I learned it most recently erupted ashes in 1971, and everyone left the town. If it erupts, its lava would reach the town very quickly. Every day dozens of people go to the volcano for hiking.
I really liked the city, I swam in its lakes, I read books on the lake’s beach, I rode around the region. One day I received a text “Hi! I’m Ogulcan. I’m travelling as backpacker, I’ve been in Pucon recently. As I see your posts, you are also here. Can we meet if it’s possible?” Up to this time I never refused anyone, so I met with Ogulcan and had a cool brother. He has also a website where he shares his road memories and his experiences: www.ogulcantemiz.com. So, the last time we saw each other, he was about the finish his tour in South America. We will see where we will meet again.
The ones who come to Puscon in summer will find a different atmosphere and the ones who come in winter (in July, June, August) will find another. It is a nice spot located outside of the main road. Well, this place has a lot of activities, natural beauties. But if I ever come to this town once again, I would like to come here to settle. Especially, during fall and winter. For this I even looked for house and land prices. And that was the end of it my searches. Because it is impossible for me to pay the high prices for now. I do not know if it will happen in the future either. Pucon is a nice town, not for touristic activities but for living. As all good things do, this also come to an end in this journey. Honestly, I would like to spend many months here, walking in the nature or riding around. (Did I really say walking? Really? Me? Haha!) But I must go on to my journey.
After this point, I took the road to Argentine’s lakes region and to Bariloche. Until I arrived in Argentine, it kept raining. In the last days of autumn, the colors were so extraordinary in this region. After a climb of 900 meter in the Andean Mountains, I’m returning to Argentine.