Arriving in Valdivia it was noticeably cooler as we were now 12 hours south of Valparaiso. We found Airesbuenos Hostel but could not check-in to our room so instead walked down to Feria Fluvial where large sea lions wait behind the fish markets for any left over scraps that may be fed to them. I am not sure they need the extra scraps – those things are huge! We stopped for lunch before boarding a cruise through the various rivers that surround Valdivia. It was a bit of a tourist gimmick but the weather was nice, as was the scenery. I can’t say we reaped the benefits of the informative talks as they were in Spanish but we enjoyed it all the same. We stopped at some small river side towns and visited some old Spanish forts. One of the highlights was towards the end of the trip when afternoon tea was served and the staff put bowls on the table for tips but Will thought the bowls were for putting our used tea bags in much to the amusement of the Chilean ladies sitting opposite us.
The next morning we took a bus out to the beachside town of Curiñanco and more specifically to Reserva Punta Curiñanco, a small national park located at the end of the road and accessed after paying a 1000 peso entry fee to a local family. Joining us were some others from the hostel – Paula from Switzerland, Itimar from Israel and Pawel from the States. At first the path we hiked was rather enclosed, dense forest but then it opened up exposing hundreds of tall trees and through the trees, the ocean beyond.
It took around an hour and a half to walk through and afterwards we walked down to the beach, initially most of us with the intention of going for a swim but the combination of cool Chilean wind and the temperature of the water were enough to deter most – although Pawel braved it. We had intended to catch the 2:30pm bus back to Valdivia but by 3:00pm it was apparent we had missed it. On asking another local, they acknowledged the bus came at 2:30pm but then mentioned you had to be there at 2:00pm in order to catch the 2:30pm bus – no idea how that works but we were told similar for the next bus – 6:30pm but be there at 6pm. We took that as potentially 5:30pm and therefore waited from 5:00pm – just in case!! It was quite the anxious wait to see if the bus did actually turn up and we could actually get back to Valdivia! On the way back we stopped quickly at Niebla, another small beach town before arriving at Kuntzmann Brewery which is probably best described as Disneyland for beer drinkers. It was pretty tacky but we enjoyed a tasting of all of their 12 beers and had some German inspired meals before returning back to our hostel to bed.