Interesting aside: Breakfast, Lunch and Dinner are all verbs as well as nouns in Spanish. Desayuno is “I breakfast”. I like this.
As Laura aluded to in the last post we’re back on the hiking trail (despite the fact that she has now admitted she over-walked me in NZ!) The difference is that we don’t have our own van to get everywhere now, and the public transport here is not so good in rural places, like where all the parks are.
Our first destination was San Clemente, a little village about an hour away from Talca, which was a big-ish town that took about 4 hours to get to from Santa Cruz via local then regional bus. It was quite a big transport day. Only we weren’t just staying in San Clamente, but in a remote countryside place where the owners had to pick us up and drive us for another 30 minutes. We really do stay in some random places!
Fortunately it was well worth the trip. We stayed at Campo Suizo, a little BnB type place owned by a Swiss couple. We were the only people staying and they could not have done more for us to make our stay amazing. The food was all brilliant and home cooked, the beds were super comfy and it was a beautiful, remote place to stay.
The reason we’d journeyed this far was to head to “Reserva Nacional Altos de Lircay” to walk Enrilladrilado, an impressive 8 hour walk up hills and mountains to beautiful vista (tons of photos will be coming shortly). The top is a wide expanse with lots of square stones in the floor, and apparently no one knows whether they are natural or man made.
To get there first involved the owners dropping us at a bus stop to get the first bus of the day. The bus was really old and packed to the rafters; Laura got to sit on the dashboard and I held on any way I could for an hour long bus journey along a mostly dirt track. Once we arrived we then had a daunting 8 hour hike ahead of us; we’d arrived at 9 and the penultimate bus was at 5.10 which we were determined to get which meant keeping up a brisk pace. It was a lot of walking, particularly on the way back as Laura’s shoes have been giving her some grief so she was in a bit of pain. She soldiered through though and you’ll be pleased to know we were back for the bus with 20 minutes to spare!
I’m not sure how but the walks in Chile are even better than in New Zealand. There’s something incredible about the scale of everything, particularly the mountains which are huge and everywhere. As it’s nowhere near as well organised it means that it’s a lot quieter too, and the quiet makes the views even more enjoyable.
The next day we were unsurprisingly sore, which we took as an opportunity to get one of the big bus journeys out the way as we went from our remote village, down a huge distance south to get to the lake district. The intention had been to do almost 10 hours of bus journeys (2 local and one regional), however we had to make a change of plans. After arriving in Temuco, the regional hub, we discovered there was only one more bus to where we needed to go and it was already full. The handy Rough Guide book we’ve been using pointed us to a nearby BnB, which actually ended up being a homestay. Temuco is a nice city from what we got to see and we had a great dinner so it wasn’t a complete waste.
We got on the first bus the next day to Melipueco, a small town near to Conguillo National Park, and the stunning llaima volcano. Despite it’s remoteness (1.5 hours direct, 2.5 hours via local bus with Chileans leaning over your seat and playing music from their smartphones out loud) it’s an exceptionally pretty place and we think this is what Switzerland would look like. Lots of wood! Alas, due to our missed connection the night before we couldn’t go hiking on the first day so we took the opportunity to catch up on admin- school applications and such like. It was nice to have a relaxed day and we had some lovely home cooked food- there were no menus, the chef just told us what was available. Our Spanish is still far from perfect, but we understood “salmon” and “lasagne” (they’re the same!) so that’s what we had. Delicious!
Today though, we finally got to go hiking. There’s no public transport to this park so we had to pay someone to drive us out and back again, a 2 hour round trip. We were hiking “Sierra Nevada”, labelled as a 6 hour hike which we managed to knock out in just over 4, which allowed us to do MORE WALKING! Joking aside, I’ve really enjoyed both these walks, possibly even more than Laura. The vistas have been amazing, and on our 2nd walk today we got to go on a volcanic black sand beach which was a treat.
We have however made one faux pas; we didn’t bring enough cash and the solitary machine is out of money. We’ve got enough for accommodation and a bus out of town, but we’re currently eating a dinner of crackers and chocolate spread! We’ll be making up for it tomorrow by going for steak.