Our 16 day cruise with Holland America Zaandam started from the port of San Antonio in Chile (changed from the original port of Valparaiso) and headed south along the coast of Chile, around Cape Horn, out to the Falkland Islands then north across the South Atlantic to Uruguay, Argentina and Brazil. Our first port of call on this cruise was Puerto Montt in Chile. From Puerto Montt we took a driving tour to Puerto Varas and then to Frutillar, both situated on Lake Llanquihue with commanding views of the two prominent volcanoes; Osorno and Calbuco.
Puerto Montt is a port city and commune in southern Chile, located at the northern end of the Reloncaví Sound in the Llanquihue Province, Los Lagos Region, 1,055 km to the south of the capital, Santiago. The commune spans an area of 1,673 km2 (646 sq mi) and has a population of 245,902 in 2017. It is bounded by the communes of Puerto Varas to the north, Cochamó to the east and southeast, Calbuco to the southwest and Maullín and Los Muermos to the west.
Founded as late as 1853 during the German colonization of southern Chile, Puerto Montt soon outgrew older neighboring cities due to its strategic position at the southern end of the Chilean Central Valley being a gateway city into Chiloé Archipelago, Llanquihue and Nahuel Huapi lakes and Western Patagonia.
Puerto Montt has gained renown and grown significantly due to the rise of Chile as the second largest salmon producer of the world during the 1990s and 2000s. However, the Chilean salmon aquaculture crisis of the late 2000s resulted at least temporarily in severe unemployment and exposed weaknesses in the local economy. The city’s cultural heritage mixes elements of Chiloé culture with German heritage although the city has attracted a significant number of newcomers from all over Chile in the last 30 years due to employment opportunities.
Puerto Varas is a city in southern Chile’s Lake District. It sits on the southwest banks of the expansive Lake Llanquihue, which offers commanding views of snow-capped Osorno Volcano and Calbuco Volcano, both still active. Traditional German-style architecture characterizes the town, reflecting its colonial past. Built in the early 20th century, the red-and-white Sacred Heart of Jesus Church has 3 striking towers.
Frutillar is a city in southern Chile’s Lake District, with views of Osorno Volcano. It sits on the western edge of vast Llanquihue Lake, and has black sand beaches. German-style wooden buildings characterize the town, reflecting its colonial past. The German Colonial Museum explores this history and has a 19th-century mill. Concerts and performances are staged at the glass-fronted Lake Theater.
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