You want to fly over the throat of an active volcano? Who do you call? .... In Villarica you call Rene - the local supermarket manager.
The run up flight before the actual volcano fly past is illuminating. The photo below looks like a container farm or bad subsidized housing run amok. It is neither. It's a holiday home development for the Chilean middle class. We still don't really believe it, but these high, high density developments are everywhere and numerous people have assured us that the Chileans like to spend holidays very, very, very close to their fellow citizens. In a country with countless undeveloped pristine lakes it makes no sense (to us), but such is life.
The wealthier Chileans have made the break from the hive lifestyle. The Lakeshore is a portfolio of fine vacation homes:
But note - not a boat anywhere. Yes it is off season (just barely - we were there in the equivalent of the first week of September in North America) but the consensus is that Chileans don't do boats. Go figure. A country with a proud naval heritage, a huge fishing fleet and a myriad of lakes....you'd expect ski boats, recreational fishing, sea-doos - but no. We probably saw 5 recreational boats on the water the whole time we were in the Lake District.
As we circled to gain altitude, we flew over other nearby lakes - pristine and undeveloped:
One of our favourites is this shot of 3 parasitic cones with a small village built between them. Remember - the primary cone is still smoking and the last lava flow was 1960 (killing 200 people) - you have to wonder about building there!
The whole region is very much part of the Pacific ring of fire. The cone in the distance in the photo below is actually in Argentina - the lava flow in the foreground is from the 60s - yesterday, in geologic terms
And because it was one of the highlights of our adventure, we'll reprise the run up to the volcano and the look down into the throat of hell - many shots follow!
And the most amazing shot - looking down into the volcano!