Friday, 12 March 2010


The town of Chaiten was formerly inhabited by around 4500 people, however was evacuated in 2008 after the start of the ongoing eruption of the Chaiten Volcano. It is officially closed and the authorities have previously (and unsuccessfully) taken legal action to try and remove the inhabitants who did not wish to be evacuated. The town was largely buried under volcanic ash during the initial eruption, although thankfully no-one was injured. As the eruption is ongoing the layer of ash is intermittently added to. In spite of this a number of the inhabitants have refused to leave, and remain in their homes without electricity or clean running water. The road north of Chaiten remains closed, however it is possible to continue north by taking the ferry to Peurto Montt.

Rather than staying in Chaiten itself (which is possible, although potentially not very comfortable) we stopped some kilometers out of town in the very beautiful national park.

Here we met Kev and Heather, a Scottish couple also on bikes, who we have been bumping into intermittently, and spent a very lovely day relaxing in the hotsprings (finally getting to use the bikini I have been carrying all these weeks!!!!).

The difficulties suffered by Chaiten were being compounded by the after effects of the earthquake and the impact on the tides of the tsunami when we arrived. The town itself is almost deserted, and is a very surreal place; we were left extremely saddened by the sight of peoples homes and businesses half buried under the mountain of ash, often with the just the roofs appearing to be protruding from the ground. Given all the difficulties we were extremely lucky, and relieved to be able to make the trip over from Chaiten with relative ease.

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