QuickPeek: Araucaria. Volcanoes. Condor. Fall colors. Autumn. Lakes.
Hello there! The apparent slumber for the past many months was because I have kind of gotten into a nice little groove here in Santiago, Chile. A lot is happening around, including the fact that the bike ride is on the back burner and I am actively performing a day job, Gasp! Good community, good team to work with and all around chill atmosphere is what is on offer and I have had a few lovely months off the road. That said, it was inevitable that I would seek to head out of the busy city at any opportunity and when my friends asked me to join them to Parque Nacional Conguillo, it didn’t need much convincing for me to sign on.
We took an overnighter to Temuco and after a brief stop at Felipe’s mum’s place for b’fast, we took another bus to the small village of Melipueco. From there we hitch hiked into the national park. It was a public holiday which meant there were numerous visitors to the park and hitching was super easy, what with people picking us up even without us trying!! However being end of season, there was literally no crowd anywhere. The weather was spectacular and after the first round of hitches, we stopped at laguna arcoiris. We decided to camp out in the bush and found a really sweet spot to stop for the night. It got super cold and I made the mistake of not layering up on socks and woke up with frozen toes, ouch.
A park ranger met us in the morning and was real friendly and told us we should have knocked on his cabin and he’d have let us take shelter in there. Brrr. We took him up on the offer though and for the next 2 nights we ended up sleeping in a really beautiful cabana with heating, kitchen, toilets and a hot shower! whoop whoop!
We left our bags in the cabana and headed up the road to find some nice hikes. There were numerous options and we picked on the Sierra Nevada trail. It was so beautiful that we had to return the next dat to hike it again!! The forest was incredibly beautiful, and was fantastical in the autumn light and with groves of Araucaria dispersed all along the way. Weather was perfect and though we started the days late, it was perfect timing to catch the sunsets and good light. It was as much a photo tour as it was a hiking trip as Vicho was in the midst of shooting some environmental shots for his documentary.
We returned to the trail the next day and hiked further up towards the sierra Nevada. As we got beyond the second view point the trail climbed up to the ridge and it was a incredibly pretty climb up to the treeline, The snow was starting to collect along the trail and near the top, it got a bit icy and slippery, but luckily was easy to navigate. May be in a couple of weeks (if the park is still open), one might need crampons to get to these parts. The views of all the volcanos of the region (Llaima, Villarica, Lanin) popped up as we got higher with stunning araucarias in the foreground. It was a really beautiful sight to behold. As the sun dipped, the condors came out to play and hung about around the cliffs!
We got super lucky all along the trip what with people picking us up and giving us shelter, the weather being perfect and general grooviness of the time there. I guess it was nice to be back in touch with magic. One of the reasons for being in Chile for me is to be able to immerse myself in these immensely awe inspiring spaces and this was as good a time as any to be able to start the process, with hopefully more to come.
Route: Parque Nacional Conguillo. to Sierra Nevada trail
Distance: 50 km of hiking Km
Road: Excellent access to park and beautifully maintained trails.
Traffic: Low at end of season. I have a feeling summers are packed.
Services: Nothing inside the park. Resupply in Temuco (last stop melipeuco)
Expenses: SG$ 60$ (Transport, food etc. Saved on camping charges as we were offered a shelter, whoop whoop)
Comments: An incredibly beautiful park. If in the neighbourhood, do not miss the opportunity to visit.