Halloween and November 1 are religious holidays in Chile, so this year we had a four-day weekend. We packed the kids up and drove 8 hours (which isn’t a big deal to us, but a lot of Chileans seemed surprised we were driving) to the beautiful lake district. It reminded us of a lot of beautiful areas in the U.S., except much more unspoiled. Can you imagine a national park with only dirt roads? Most people travel to this area mid-summer because spring can be quite rainy, but we were so lucky to have three warm, sunny days. We drove on lots of very bad dirt roads and crossed scary bridges like this one. Our van seems to have survived, thank goodness.We drove to two pretty waterfalls. Jonathan has informed us that following our trip to Iguazu Falls, he no longer needs to see any more waterfalls for the rest of his life.We threw rocks into Lake Villarrica. Kids never seem to get tired of doing that, do they?It was our first time seeing an active volcano — a nearby volcano erupted recently, making the air a little hazy at times, but we could still see the constant puff of smoke, and at night, there was a cool red glow along the mouth.We toured this volcanic cave — aren’t we cute in our hard hats?The picture doesn’t have a size reference, but this spider was BIG and ran right across our path!Look, Jon, another waterfall!On our last day, these kids hiked for about three hours, mostly uphill. Pretty amazing. I tried someone’s idea of having a “best attitude award” and guess what? Everyone won. At the two-hour mark, I headed back to the car (another hour) with Ben, Jon, and Mary, but Matt (with Thomas on his back) and Sam continued for another hour or more to the goal — this lake which was still surrounded by snow (and mud). Lovely, lovely.
Our final stop was at one of the termas (hot springs) which are everywhere in the area. A hot soak was just what we needed after that long hike.