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chileans volcanoes
Written by sophie et jeremy   
Thursday, 22 March 2018

The road 5, backbone of the country, is a superb highway, dotted with modern fuel stations, buffet restaurants, showers and internet connection, a whole luxury we almost forgot about! Be reassured, there are wandering pedestrians, cyclists, and hairpin curves on that highway too! Still, we are happy to use it, even if we have to make some loops to the west to see the coast, and to the east in the mountains.

Llaima Llaima

After leaving the lac district, we arrive in the very popular Conguillio nation al park, where we camp with a french family travelling in a former firetruck. The place is gorgeous, mix of araucaria and coïgue forest, old lava flows, coloured layer canyons and emerald blue lakes. All of which, overlooked by the still active volcano Llaima. We particularly appreciated the "arcoiris" lake, where crystal blue waters submerge trunks of a flooded forests, and the basalt cliffs around the Truful truful waterfall.

Conguillio Conguillio truful truful

laguna verde laguna verde arcoiris lake arcoiris lake

Nearby is the natural reserve Malalcahuello, with its lunar landscape, a termal and ski resort : there are a couple of lifts on the ash slopes of the volcano, meters away from the crater! Maybe a bit brave as the last eruption occured only 20 ago. We sleep in front of the "Navidad" crater, called that way because the eruption started on a christmas eve, from where a long lava flow runs far down the valley. One of the most scenic places of our trip.

Malalcahuello 1 Malalcahuello 1 Malalcahuello 2 Malalcahuello 2

Malalcahuello 3 Malalcahuello 3

Leaving temporarly the cordillera, we croos the country to the west to Nahuelbuta national park, only mountains range on the coast, from where you can see the pacific ocean on one side and the snowcapped andean peaks on the other. There are also a lot of the endemic araucaria trees.

Nahuelbuta Nahuelbuta

We then go to the north east again, at the foot of 3 volcanoes above Chillan. Again a ski resort on the slopes, but this time one volcano is erupting, spiting a huge cloud of smoke every 10 minutes or so. Registration before hiking is mandatory as we'll approach the crater of less than 5 kilometers. After walking to the local "shangrila", a very thick lava flow, we take our caming gear the the "aguas calientes" valley, where there are natural hot springs. On the way, we pass by some "fumaroles", and arrive at our destination under a very strong hail storm. We shelter in the hot pools for 2 hours before the storms calm down. The following morning, the clouds are away, and we can enjoy the view of the smoky hot river, running down the valley.

Altos de Lircay Altos de Lircay volcan chillan volcan chillan

valle de aguas calientes 1 valle de aguas calientes 1 valle de aguas calientes 2 valle de aguas calientes 2

valle de aguas calientes 3 valle de aguas calientes 3 chillan valley chillan valley

fumaroles fumaroles

The next day, we climb up the "enldrillado" trek, of 1200m ascent, in Altos de Lircay national park. The walk up is steep, we come back covered by dust, and with an extra sunburnt for Sophie, but the views from the top were marvellous.

enldrillado 1 enldrillado 1 enldrillado 2 enldrillado 2

A bit tired by all that physical activities, we head now to the wineyard country...


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