Road Tripping Through South Chile

“No road is long, with good company” 🚘❤️ (en Laguna De Laja)

As an exchange student in Chile, me and my 2 girlfriends and roomies decided to go on a road trip with two Mexican boys who we had met barely a month before, and it was the best and most rewarding decision ever. We almost didn’t have any money, but we decided this was the cheapest way to travel because we could sleep in the car, take food, clothes and everything we needed to survive with us. We took advantage of a long weekend from school and took a 5, almost 4-day trip to the south of Chile.

We lived in Santiago, and I wanted to get all the way down to Puerto Mont and Puerto Varas because I had already been there and I knew how beautiful it was. Unfortunately we discussed it and decided not to get that far south because we would have spent more of our limited time driving than we would actually experiencing the places we wanted to go, so we decided to travel as far south as Valdivia, and Pucón. We each took it as our mission to investigate the coolest places to stop in the way and with the help of some Chilean friends we kind of created a route.

We decided we would drive almost for a complete day, with a few stops, all the way down to Valdivia and then make the required and touristic stops on the way back. We had everything planned except for the rental of the car. Long story short we almost didn’t do this trip because all the car rental agencies we had heard about were very expensive and nobody had the initiative to look for any other places. Luckily, one of my roommates, approximately 3 or 2 days before we were supposed to leave, decided to take it upon herself to google rental agencies in Santiago, blessed be her organized soul. After finding crazy cheap prices compared to the ones of the well-known agencies, we chose one and even doubted the credibility of it. When we got to the rental place nobody wanted to give their credit card as insurance so I decided it was my turn to step in and finally make this trip possible. We rented the cheapest car and just registered one driver cause they charged extra for every other person and we wanted to spare every penny that we could.

Packing for our trip we prepared ourselves to sleep, eat and live in the car. We took food, blankets, pillows and everything we thought we could need.
The day we finally left for our road trip we started driving as early as we could and our first stop was at a vineyard in Santa Cruz. This was one of my favorite places of our trip because we just drove inside, wandered around in this beautiful place and no one even bothered to ask us why or what were we doing there. We had lunch and took a ton of pictures and got to know the whole place without paying a single dime. After that, we decided to drive without stopping until we got to our destination, Valdivia. I’m not exactly sure how many hours we drove but we got there in the early hours of the AM, around 3 maybe, it was rainy and foggy and nothing was opened so we just slept and froze in the car until the sun came out.
We wandered around, took more pictures and followed our road. We arrived in Pucón in the afternoon and we walked through the little town, which was super pretty and touristic.

For the sleeping arrangements, again, my organized friend had requested a place to crash to different people in couchsurfing, but being that we were 5 people it wasn’t so easy to find any takers. Still, being as lucky as we always were, she contacted someone who rented a huge cabin in the woods, with 2 rooms, a fire, kitchen and hot showers for around $8 dollars per person, per night and we stayed there for two nights. When we got to the cabin we thought we had reached heaven because we were so cold, so dirty and so tired of no sleeping and driving the whole day.

The next day my guy friends went on an excursion to climb the volcano and me and the girls went to walk in the Huerquehue National Park, we walked about 14 km so when we got back to the cabin, all of us, we were exhausted.
The next day we started our driving back, stopping anywhere we wanted. We got to stop in the most beautiful little towns, they were so beautiful to see because, being autumn, all the leaves looked golden and filled the floor and the trees and the road and it just looked like a postcard. We also saw many lakes and even a rainbow. Our final most important stop was in Laguna de Laja, we had lunch there and took our time to walk around and enjoy the lake view. On the way back we even stopped in the middle of the road to take the most amazing road pictures, with the volcano behind us, it was all so cliché.

We arrived back in Santiago again in the early morning, around 5 am and we were so beaten but so happy. We took the car back later that day and everything went fine with the deposit.

Looking back now I know how crazy and rushed our trip sounds like, but in the moment it was perfect. This trip lasted only 5 days but those were 5 of the better-lived days of my life. We were so free to do absolutely whatever we wanted, whenever we wanted in the most carefree way, it was amazing. Everything that could have gotten wrong didn’t, actually everything was the best-case scenario. Even if we sometimes froze to death, slept in a car or didn’t sleep at all, we enjoyed all of the rides and the places so much. It is so true when they say that traveling is not the destination, but the journey itself. Doing my first road trip with this other 4 people who are now my family I learned so much. I realized that you literally just have to take the initiative and do it. Leave. Rent a car, buy a ticket, take a train. Just get up and trace a route and leave with whoever is willing to go with you.

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