Red Beard was running out of time in Chile. You get 90 days on your temporary vehicle import papers, and we had entered Chile on September 15. We figured we were fine until December 15th, but then we actually started counting the days.
There is an aduana office in Pucon and we asked if they could just extend the papers there. Nope – they said to go to the border, enter Argentina for 1 minute, then return to Chile and get new papers. Basically, the 90 day limit is just a forced inconvenience for anyone wanting to stay in Chile longer.
We were only 60 kilometers or so from the border, so we figured what the heck… let’s go to Argentina. We drove through the Villarrica Nacional Park, past volcanoes and monkey puzzle trees all the way to the lonely border station. We asked again if we really did have to leave the country and the boss-man insisted that we had to follow procedure (while the 4 other people in the office assured us it was ridiculous). We handed in our car papers and got our passports stamped out in just a few minutes. They told us it was only one more kilometer to the Argentina office. We told them we would be right back.
We walked into the Argentina office and explained that we just wanted to be stamped in and out and go back to Chile. One guy acted like we were lost and pointed us to Chile. His buddy knew what was up and told us to do the paperwork, drive off for a few minutes to take some pictures, then come back and exit the country. Fair enough.
Except for an exceptionally chatty official at the vehicle permisso desk, things went pretty smoothly*. We drove off and figured that since we just spent all the effort getting into the country (zero inspections on either side, by the way) that we may as well take a peek.
This side of the border is Parque Nacional Lanin. We were only on the road for a few minutes and decided to pull off next to a small wooden sign that said Lago Tromen.
Change of plans.
This is a little gem. First, a beautiful lake and valley open up below us. Then, a water-crossing to make things interesting. Finally we end up beach-side on a stellar lake.
If you see the little wooden sign… turn.
We took our bag full of produce that we assumed would be confiscated at the border and make the best damn one-pot campfire meal we’ve had in a while. Then we spent the rest of the afternoon and evening watching falcons comb the shoreline and roost in the trees around us.
Life is good. No rush to get back to Chile.
*Note: This aduana office features a ping pong table. There’s not much traffic here.