Adele + Helmut And A Few Volcano

Escaping the bad and cold weather in Argentina we cross over to Chile a few days earlier as initially planned. Our next planned stop is with an old friend of Michael from a long time ago - Helmut. Expected to be there for the weekend we arrive rather unexpected already late Thursday afternoon. They run a small hostel and are therefore used to travelers just showing up at their doorstep, Adela and Helmut welcome us to their home which is located in the area of Temuco.


After all this time it is really nice to meet up again. We talk about old times but more importantly about how life is in Chile these days. Over a hearty “Vesper” prepared by Adela and a few bottles of best Chilean beer Helmut also gives us great advise on what we should do and visit next in this region. We were very glad that we can use one of the apartments Helmut has built on German standards. To have a proper and very clean bathroom was a real treat after almost 1.5 months on the road! After a great breakfast and some more conversation with the two we drive on to visit volcano Llaima that we can see already in the distance from the apartments.

Volcano Llaima is the most active volcano in Chile with the last eruption taking place in 2008. While we have visited volcano in New Zealand a few years back it is not comparable to what we experience in this part of the world. Volcano are really dominating the landscape here. While the one in Argentina a couple of days back would not show itself here we are again very lucky and blessed with a super sunny and great day.


Volcano Llaima is located in Parque Nacional Conguillio which we enter on the southern side. As the weather forecast showed a cloudy morning for the next day we try to do as much as we can in one day. For this Helmut had prepared a list of “things not to miss”.


This includes a 30 minute walk right at the entrance to the park. Across an old lava field we get to a little canyon. Several volcanic eruptions over the years created different layers of soil. They have been made visible again by a river and erosion creating this small canyon. The next stop should have been a walk to Laguna Verde. Unfortunately we do not find the entry to it and continue to the next short walk instead.


Not even shown on the official map of the park, Helmut pointed out a nice walk around the small Laguna Arco Iris (meaning rainbow). It is right at the end of a lava field. It seems that there used to be a forest as a lot of dead tree trunks are still visible. On this super nice day we get a lot of great pictures with their reflections in the lake and the old lava field in the back. The Laguna presents itself in many different colors from which it most likely got it’s name from.


The main reason why this national park was established is not so much because of the volcano but rather to protect the great fauna. More particular the Araucarias which can get several hundred years old. In the park there is a walk where we experience this first hand (a must do on Helmut’s list).


With the evening approaching fast we try to do the last bit on our list. The walk up to the Sierra Nevada is famous. It is a 3 hour return walk through the forest up to some amazing view points. Given that we started fairly late that day we only make it up to the second view point, not the third and last one. But even from there we get some amazing views of the park and the volcano.


The great thing of traveling outside of the main season is that we are almost alone in the various parks. This also means however, that a lot of the camp sites are already closed. Not really a problem for us as we are pretty much self sufficient so we search and also find a spot where we can see the volcano directly from our camper. Thanks to the great guidance of Helmut we really got a lot out of this day here today.

Reserva Nacional Malalcahucllo - Nalcas is our plan for the next day. Despite the fact that the morning started out cloudy it cleares up later on and we have another couple of fantastic days in this region. Home to volcano Lonquimay and Talhuaca as well as Crater Navidad we come to a completely different landscape compared to what we saw around volcano Llaima.


While we could hike through a lot of forest around volcano Llaima in this park the majority of the landscape is covered with the still very visible flow of magma and black sand. Something we hadn’t seen before at all. Only a few plants manage to grow here.


The nice thing in this park is also that we can walk up to the top of the volcano Lonquimay and crater Navidad. As Lonquimay was already covered with snow the park rangers advises us not to do this. But walking up to the crater which is visible in front of Lonquimay is perfectly fine. There is even a marked trail.


The crater itself exists since 1988 and was created in an eruption on Christmas Day lasting more than three weeks. They say that on a very cold winter day you can still see smoke coming out of the crater. Marked as a difficult 1.5 km long trail it was supposed to take you 2h return. Initially we didn’t understand why they marked it difficult. Once trying to get up the very steep slope we finally understood. It is really very steep and the sand does not give you much grip either. So sometimes we use our hands and legs to get up there.


On the top we get rewarded for it. We can walk even into the crater to experience the massive size. We recognize the different colors and enjoy the excellent view around us with the other volcano as well as the the flow of the magma from 1988 which is still very visible.


Very impressed by the landscape we decide to stay in the park over night. There is no camp site but at the same time camping is not explicitly forbidden. We park at one of the view points with a great view of the volcano around us. The day ends with a spectacular sunset and a good bottle of wine to go with it. Again just us and the sound of mother nature.

Thanks again to Helmut for providing us with very valuable hints and tips what to do in this region. As we are getting closer to the end of our fantastic trip we decide our next stop should be somewhere warm with water. So let's see if we can find a nice place somewhere at the beach.

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