Exploring the Araucania Region (Lago Budi & Saavedra)
We have been on the go ever since we got into Chile. It has been awesome, but it’s also very draining. For this weekend, we knew we wanted to explore some areas closer to Temuco which would give us greater flexibility but also get us back into Temuco mid-day on Sunday so we can be prepared for the week ahead. Therefore, we targeted heading to Lake Budi, which is about 1.5-2 hours away from our apartment. The route felt familiar because it’s the same direction that we head for the foundation and many of the artisan homes. So really, we only needed to drive about 30-60 minutes farther than we have previously done on some of the artisan visits.
Our target was Lake Budi, which is one of the only saltwater lakes in South America, which was apparently filled due to a tsunami in the past. We left our apartment around 4 p.m. on Friday (Susana told us to work from home since no one would be coming into the foundation, which meant there would be no internet) and headed out with Lemmy packed with camping gear, food, supplies, etc. We were fully prepared for two nights of camping around the region and just exploring several towns.
We didn’t have any plans for Friday except to find a quality campsite and to cook dinner there and relax. We used google and an app called iOverlander to find some campsites, but long story short, we weren’t really satisfied with any of the locations. Our first location was nice and quiet and right on the water, but it wasn’t really private at all and when we got there basically everyone was just staring at us. We didn’t really feel that welcome. So we searched for more spots. We consulted the phones to find the next closest spots, and found another location near a popular beach. Well, this place was basically a field with “parking spots” for camping spots, so absolutely no privacy and was packed with large families and kids, etc. We moved onto the next one on the list, and it was similar to the prior one, but with a bit more privacy – however, it was really expensive ($30 USD a night), which is a bit of a rip off. It was now about 7:30 p.m. (sun sets around 9:30 p.m.) and we were getting a bit concerned on finding a good spot without being too picky. We consulted the iOverlander app and it told us about an “informal” campsite near Puerto Saavedra. There were really no signs for it, so we just trusted the app and made our way into what looked like a little park. What we encountered was a ton of campsites (and packed with people). We understood what it meant by “informal” now since it was basically a free-for-all to find a spot. It was starting to get dark and we said, screw it – let’s post up here. We found a good spot that was a “little” secluded and we pitched our tent, made some food, and played cards until we went to sleep. The place was pretty loud (our neighbors were having a jam session of their own music and instruments) but we were tired and passed out.
Since the place was crowded, we didn’t feel comfortable leaving anything there at the site so we decided we’d only camp here one night. We then decided to find a cabaña in town because there were some areas we wanted to explore. That way we’d have a shower and a home base for our stuff since we don’t like leaving things in the car. We found a nice cabaña (think of a small hotel room with private room/bath) a little bit outside of town and then showered up and were ready for the day.
After getting some recommendations from a small tourist office, we headed a bit south towards the west side of Lake Budi for an annual Mapuche competition/festival called “Wampo” that was coincidentally held that day. We stayed there for about 3 hours, and it was basically an outdoor festival with vendors selling food/merchandise and a large celebration with about 300-400 people there. The primary focus of the event was a boat racing competition in “wampos” which are wooden boats. They had a “schedule of events” but in typical Chilean fashion, things were a couple hours behind so we only wanted the children race (between 5 participants) before heading out.
We then went back to our cabaña to drop off Lemmy and then walk into town for a “gastronomica” festival. Basically, it was a street festival within a large square block area. It had about 80 vendors for beer, food, merchandize, etc. It was great. Chile has a zero tolerance alcohol policy with driving (vs. the 0.08 limit in the US), so I was excited to get to this festival and have a beer knowing we didn’t have to drive anywhere afterwards. We walked some laps and just did “window shopping” and were getting hungry so stopped by the food vendors. I appreciate a good salesman, and we encountered one who pulled us over and made me try what he was grilling – he cut me off a piece of meat and handed to me. Of course, I burned my hand, dropped the meat on the ground, but I wasn’t about to waste a gift. Five-second rule. I picked it up, took a bite, and it was delicious. Sold. We got a large plate of lamb with 3 potatoes, a side salad, and two sopaipillas for about $8 USD. It was sooo good. I was pretty content at this point. Beer in hand, great food, great weather, and felt very relaxed.
We walked around the festival a little longer, ate some churros and chocolate covered strawberries and bananas, and grabbed an alfajor for the road and walked back to our cabaña. Our diet is going great.
We stayed in the rest of the night and left early on Sunday to head back to Temuco. It was nice getting into our apartment a bit earlier than normal after busy weekends, so we’re currently preparing for the week ahead. We are getting an early start this week because we planned (rather impromptu planned because of the opportunity!) a long weekend trip that we’re really really excited about. I won’t say where at this point – you’ll just have to see next week! But of course, we need to cram about a full week’s worth of work in 3 days onsite, which will make things really busy. We are also scheduled to visit Sra. Nancy (really important artisan who is making some intricate blankets) on Tuesday this week that had to be rescheduled due to the fires last week. Oh, and it’s the Brazilians’ turn to make a “traditional lunch” for everyone – I’m very excited for that.