After a few days of intermittent rain, I’m happy to see perfect blue skies when I begin moving North from Villa O’Higgins. My fishing gear is all-but useless, so I camp with a hardcore Dutch fisherman, and together we cook a fresh brown trout in the coals of our campfire – possibly the best “camping” meal of the trip.
I meander my way North, camping in road-side pullouts and exploring tiny local villages as I go. Arriving in Chaitén I can’t believe the level of destruction caused by a volcanic eruption three years earlier. Locals explain it wasn’t so much the eruption itself (though that did produce enormous amounts of ash), but more-so the re-direction of the river that washed away half of the town. So much sand and ash washed down that the “beachfront” is now 500 meters back from the original line. Woah.
I camp within site of the volcano, still spewing smoke, though heavy rain in the morning prevents me from hiking closer. Maybe that’s for the better.
For my last night on the Austral I camp at the hot spring of Termas de Amarillo, soaking long into the night and chatting with locals and ex-pats alike.