My Cycling Tour in Chile, Day 10

March 18-19 Saturday-Sunday, Panguipulli to Valdivia

Day 10 map

Day 10 elevation profile
67 miles, 1030 feet of climb, 978 ft max

Road along the Calle Calle River valley I had a good paved road today for the first half of the ride, until I crossed Ruta 5 near the town of Los Lagos. From there, the most direct route is an unpaved road that follows the Calle Calle River valley to Valdivia. Claudia at La Torre Suiza had told me that it is a reasonable road to ride a bike on and that proved to be the case. It was not as nice as the road around Lake Calafquén, but I'd rate it in the "normal dirt road" category.

Overlooking the valley There are a number of good hills, but the reward is the magnificent views of the river valley you get from the crests.

Stream I've seen lots of cyclists in Chile but, except for the racers the other day, they have all been "utility" cyclists, using their bicycles for transportation. Today, several miles before town, I saw my first recreational cyclist. It was some guy dressed in lycra and helmet going the other way, hammering with his head down, hardly acknowledging my presence. Obviously on a training ride.

Farms on the other side of the valley As I came into town I had stopped at a street corner looking at the map in my guidebook, trying to find the way to Prat Street where my lodging is located. A nice couple in a mini-van stopped and offered to lead me to Prat Street. I had to hammer after them at 18-20 mph for a couple miles but it did get me right to where I needed to go.

View of the river Valdivia, the "city of the rivers", lies at the confluence of the Calle Calle, Cau Cau, and Cruces Rivers just before they empty into the ocean. Prat runs right along the riverbank. I had to stop to admire the view across the water with sculling teams practicing their rowing technique to the barked orders of the coxswain and the occasional tour boat returning a load of tourists from visits to destinations up river.

Valdivia from Isla Teja The Lonely Planet guidebook says, "With a lively university scene, a strong emphasis on the arts, and plenty of history - and surrounded by natural beauty - Valdivia just may be Chile's most attractive and enjoyable city." Based on first impressions, I'd have to agree.

View out my hotel window I'm staying at the Hostal Prat. My room is on the side, but I still can get a nice view of the river out the window. The place is highly recommended by both guidebooks. I wanted a nice place to stay since I will be here two days. I'm actually in a kind of suite. There's a nice large bedroom with a private (locked) hallway perfect for stashing the bike. My bathroom is at the end of the hall.

View of the river I spent my day off doing the tourist thing. I walked over the bridge to Teja Island and checked out the beautiful campus of the Universidad Austral de Chile. I stopped at a little store just outside the entrance and bought a small loaf of very heavy German schrotbrot bread and a big bottle of Coke. I sat outside and drank the Coke while a group of students carrying some funny forked sticks, apparently returning from a hike, sat down to rest for a few minutes.

Pottery display from the museum on Isla Teja There's a nice museum on the island in the 19th century mansion of Karl Anwandter, founder of Chile's first brewery. On the first floor are furniture, paintings, maps and other objects of the era, and on the second floor is an excellent collection of Mapuche Indian artifacts, including textiles, jewelry, and pottery.

The Feria Fluvial Later I visited the Feria Fluvial, the open-air market down by the river across from Isla Teja. On one side of the market farmers set out their produce for sale, and on the side next to the water fishermen sell rows of various sea creatures to the accompaniment of the grunting of sea lions who come right up to the edge looking for handouts. I didn't buy any fish but I did get some apples and some fragrant ulmo honey to take on the ride tomorrow.

Torre del Barro, old Spanish battlement I hiked down General Lagos Street looking for some fine old Victorian mansions that are supposed to be there. I walked a long way but didn't see anything so I turned around and came back.

Sculling shells on the river at sunset After dinner I walked the long way home along the river instead of taking the shortcut through town. The serenity of the reflections of the lights across the river, the lovers on the park benches, the clutches of young people walking and laughing, made a peaceful ending to a busy day.

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