San Martin to Pucon

18:56

Panarama with Volcan Lanin
Volcan Lanin
Monkey puzzle tree

I was hoping to find a guide to climb Volcan Lanin in Junin de los Andes but everything was shut between 1pm and 5pm. I arrived at 1.10pm and I didn't want to waste that much of the day there as it was a fairly grim spot. I did however stop at a roadside cafe and have a platefull of empanadas which are a great snack food for cycling.

Then I pushed on as far as the Chilean border for my 5th border crossing. Along the way the road returned to probably the worst quality gravel road so far. However it was hard to be distracted because I was cycling through amazing forests of Monkey Puzzle trees and Volcan Lanin was looming larger as I pressed on. As this was a national park there were heaps of signs everywhere saying NO CAMPING so I was keen to find a very discrete spot to camp. It grew darker and still I didn't find anywhere and then the forests disappeared to an area of low bushes. When I reached the border at dusk there was a campsite and I stayed there. As I turned up a Mapuche man had a grill going with a few sausages left on it. He sold me one in a sandwich and then I pitched my tent in the dark and slept.

The next morning I felt a bit lathargic and had some unpleasant bowel movements. Nevertheless, I pressed on. It was one of the hottest days so far. In fact rather too hot for cycling as I am not used to the heat yet. I stopped for a long lunch at a roadside cafe. Then continued along a road that is in the process of being paved. Whilst this process goes on it is in terrible condition with perilous loose gravel and sand. By the time I reached Cararrehue it was about the hottest time of day and I was exhausted and thirsty. I bought a litre of fizzy orange in a shop and colapsed on my back on the concrete and poured it down my throat. Despite only being halfway through the afternoon I decided to camp there. I asked a kid if there was a campsite and he said he would take me. I set about following him and asked how much the campsite cost. He said 500 pesos which is about 60p and much less than any campsite I have ever been to. Well, he just led me to the football pitch, near the river and asked for his 500. I had to laugh at that and paid up and camped in a really nice spot. Still feeling a bit iffy I just ate bread and jam for supper and read a little of my book before sleeping.

Today, I made a relaxing cycle to Pucón being constantly overtaken by racing cyclists. As I reached Pucón I saw many runners too. "Wow," I thought, "What a sporty town!" Then I saw a poster: Domingo Iron Man de Pucón. I'd love to stay and watch but not sure I can justify staying here for another 4 days. So, I am installed in a campsite here and I have just registered for a guided trip up Volcan Villarrica tomorrow. Should be fun. Watch this space!!!

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