Tag: waterfalls

Kouang Si Falls

We enjoyed a few amazing days taking in the laid back vibe of Luang Prabang. It is a lovely place to wander the markets, cruise around on bicycles, or just relax in the surprisingly modern and trendy restaurants and cafes. But the real highlight of our stay in Luang Prabang was a visit to Kouang Si Falls.

Biking around Luang Prabang

Wats on bikes

All the tuk-tuk drivers in town fight for your business to take you out to these falls. We were lucky that we were able to wrestle up a group of people which made it much less expensive, and lot more fun (yep, friends from the slow boat). After the negotiation was settled and we’d piled into our snug transport, we had 30+ minutes of windy, bumpy roads to get out to the falls. When we arrived, hot and sweaty from the cramped conditions and the general steaminess of the country, hanging out by water sounded like a pretty fantastic idea.

The gorgeous drive up to the waterfalls

On the short walk through the woods to get to the falls, we were greeted by the completely unexpected opportunity to see dozens of bears living in a protected (and fenced) area of the forest. I believe they were rescued bears and though they looked like our black bears, they were in fact Asian black bears! Regardless, they were a quite a surprise that we very much enjoyed.

Asian Black Bear!

Bears of the world

So just when we thought it couldn’t get any better than randomly seeing bears on our hike in, we arrived at the first set of falls. Now I’ve seen a lot of waterfalls in my life, but there aren’t too many that can match Kouang Si for water color. These falls were the most amazing blue-green and the best part is, they are perfect and inviting for swimming. Within minutes we had left our hot, sweaty selves behind and plunged into the beautiful turquoise blue. If swimming and floating was too boring, there were the options of rope swings and cliffs to dive off of.

So inviting...

Layer after layer of blue-green falls

Prepping for a rope swing

Our friend, James, heading for a face-first impact

From where we swam, it was just a short walk up to the source of the falls – an incredibly tall and impressive main fall. If you are feeling particularly ambitious, you can hike to the top of that as well but luckily Ted (who likes to climb to the top of everything) had just broken his flip-flops on the mini-walk to the source of the falls, so I got out of a longer excursion that day.

The upper falls

As the afternoon clouds rolled in and rain seemed evident, we managed to pull ourselves away from the amazing oasis, said goodbye to the bears, and piled into our rickshaw back to town. It was a pretty fantastic day.

Heading West to Chile

From Bariloche, Argentina we headed west to Puerto Varas, Chile. The Chilean border crossing was quite intense and not recommended for drug smugglers. Checking out of Argentina was pretty routine, but getting into Chile is a pain. Everyone had to get off the bus and everyone’s luggage had to be sniffed by dogs AND put through an X-ray machine. They are very strict about all the normal stuff, but ridiculously strict about any food or beverage item. Ted and I had made some sandwiches for lunch to be cost-conscious but there was no way those sandwiches were going to be allowed over the border so we had to eat them on the spot at 10:30 a.m.!

Puerto Varas was luckily worth the hassle. As Bariloche is part of the Argentine Lake District, Puerto Varas is in Chile’s Lake District. However, while Bariloche is surrounded by mountain ranges, Puerto Varas is surrounded by volcanoes. Big ones.

Osorno Volcano

For a day trip we headed out to the Vicente Perez Rosales National Park for some walking around. We met a large group of Americans on the bus ride out there who were living in the area and volunteering at schools by helping the local English teachers with their classes. They invited us to hike with them and we happily accepted. While hiking you could look to your left at a beautiful, cone-shaped, snow-covered volcano or to your right at the fjords and the lake. It’s nice to have options!

Hiking in the Park

Hiking in the Park

Hiking in the Park

On the ride back to town we stopped to see some incredibly powerful waterfalls just down the road from the National Park – the Saltos de Petrohue. Though not impressive in height, the quantity and strength of them certainly was.

Saltos de Petrohue

Saltos de Petrohue

Thanks to our good friends at Adventures Within Reach (AWR), we were able to sit down and have drinks with a local and learn a bit about both Chile and tourism in the region. We met with a wonderfully great guy named Gerardo who owns a sea kayaking and rafting company called AlSur Expeditions. AWR uses AlSur for their trips in the Lake District, so naturally we had to test them out!

Rafting the Petrohue

Rafting the Petrohue

We celebrated Ted’s birthday in Puerto Varas, starting the day on one of Gerardo’s half-day rafting trips which was a blast. The weather didn’t invite too much more outdoor activity that day, but we managed to entertain ourselves with wine and a delicious seafood dinner. We later met Gerardo out for another round of drinks and then onto another bar where we met up with the Americans that we hiked with earlier that week. Considering we didn’t know anyone in the area when we arrived a couple days earlier, Ted was properly celebrated as he rang in the big 3-1.

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