We woke up on the bus driving into foggy Puerto Varas. The land going into the town looked similar to Kansas, rolling hills and farmland. Once we found our hostel: Hostel Puerto Varas (highly recommend, the staff was wonderful and very helpful, made us feel like family) we walked around a little bit to get familiar with the area and find a good place to get breakfast. The fog was so dense that when you looked across the lake you had no idea how large it was or what was on the other side. Once we had breakfast and the fog was clearing up, we noticed a beautiful and pristine volcano in the distance along with another volcano nearby to the right, it was as if we stepped into a new town.
We started planning out the next several days to travel around the area to go hiking, canyoning, and other numerous crazy adventures. Then we decided to go for a little hike up Cerro Phillipe, very easy of a hike, great views of the volcanos but you have to do some exploring… aka go past some fences.
After the hike we went to the store to buy groceries and started to get dinner cooking. As we opened a bottle of red wine and started the chorizo, all of the sudden Phillipe, the owner of the hostel, comes running in saying “the volcano is going off!” Of course Josh and I run upstairs to grab our phones and camera and run out to the front, and there it was, massive white and gray clouds of smoke coming from the volcano to the right, Volcan Calbuco. We started down the street for an even better view, which only took us about a block and a half to be on the side of a huge hill to get some of the best pictures that I’ve ever taken. This volcano hadn’t gone off for forty years and the day we arrive to Puerto Varas it goes off that evening. Lucky? More like a once in a lifetime opportunity! After the initial shock wore off we headed back to the hostel to finish cooking. Later on as we’re almost done cooking I notice how pink the sky is and realize that a volcano just went off, so I should probably venture outside to see what that looked like with a sunset and let me tell you… it was one of the most beautiful, intimidating, and powerful moments I’ve ever had. The smoke was bright oranges and reds along with the sky bright pink, turning the water beneath it to a bright red, along with massive mushroom clouds of colors with volcanic lightening.
It was unreal.
That night we watched the news to see what was up and all we could do is stay inside from midnight to 5am. The evacuation zones were 20km (12 miles) from the volcano and luckily we were 30 km (18miles) from the volcano. Call it a miracle, luck, or whatever else but not having to evacuate on vacation was a huge burden lifted off our shoulders.