You’d think three and a half days wouldn’t be quite long enough for rafting a class IV river, exploring downtown Pucón, bathing in hot springs, visiting an island full of penguins, snacking on freshly-caught ceviche, celebrating a birthday, picking wild blackberries, having tea with my friend’s abuelita, navigating a high ropes course and ziplining, wandering through a sculpture garden, tasting too many artisanal chocolates, walking home in the pouring rain, and also maybe getting some sleep. But you’d be wrong.

My friend Natalia lives in La Serena but is originally from Valdivia, a beautifully green city in central-southern Chile. The two of us flew down for the weekend to celebrate her mother’s birthday and to do some adventuring with her friends who live there, the same ones we hiked with in Patagonia.

Besides photobombing Naty as she napped in literally every car we rode in, my favorite parts were definitely rafting along the San Pedro river and relaxing in the Geometric Hot Springs.

I had never before worn a helmet while rafting so that’s how you know it’s serious. There was only one class IV rapid on the stretch of river we did but it was essentially a giant unavoidable hole and we just hunkered down in the raft as we ripped through. You can tell that Naty and I are the only ones still paddling in the second photo below, clearly in our element. I also may have made the guides suuuuper nervous at the end when we were jumping off high rocks into the river during a break. Super fun all around, even if it rained on us and the snacks during the first half of the trip.

My other favorite spot was the Geometric Hot Springs or Termas Geométricas, where “geometric” is a name and not a descriptor. There are something like 20 different pools of varying temperatures artfully laid out in a canyon with a river. They had pools up to 45 Celsius, but I didn’t make it past 39 Celsius, which now that I’m doing the translation to 102 Fahrenheit seems plenty toasty. We also dunked in a freezing cold waterfall a few times when we got too hot which sounds unpleasant but was actually wonderful.

The worst part of the trip was definitely today’s 5am 3-hour long bus ride from Valdivia to Puerto Montt, followed by a very confused gringa in a bus station trying to get a taxi ride to the airport followed by a 2-hour flight to Puerto Natales to continue adventuring. The original goal was to climb a tower of the famous Torres del Paine but it looks like the weather may not cooperate. Fingers cross we’ll still be able to climb up something fun.