The millenary forest (at PN Conguillío)
Blame that picture . . .
I knew I wanted to visit PN Conguillio since I saw a picture of it on a travel magazine dedicated to Chile. The Aracaunia Region is not only the land of Mapuches (1/3 of the population), it is the land of virgin forests where the majestic aracauria (or monkey puzzle tree) is the main highlight.
The picture that I saw corresponded to the Sierra Nevada Trail in PN Conguillío, considered one of the top walks in Chile and this is exactly the hike that I wanted to do.
The Sierra Nevada Trail is a 20km hike (7 to 8 hours return) up to Sierra Nevada Volcano with Conguillío Lake and Llaima Volcano as background. Starting from Playa Linda, in the Southern Sector of the park, the hike offers various types of forest varying according to the altitude but the most beautiful part was when I crossed the aracauria forest. Because of the great age of this species, this tree is sometimes described as a living fossil and I can tell you that it was like walking thousands of years ago!
It was not a difficult hike and the views from the top were gorgeous: not only I could see Llaima Volcano (the most active volcano in Chile), volcanoes Villarrica and Quetuprillan also appeared behind. Of course I could also take the same picture that I saw on the magazine, it was nice!
Amongst all the hikes done in Chile and Argentina this is maybe my most special hike 🙂
My Tips :
- Melipeuco is the closest town to the park’s Southern Gate. To reach Melipeuco I took a rural bus (Nar Bus) from Temuco (1500 pesos, 2 hours);
- From Melipeuco, the best way to reach the park, without private transportation, is hitch hiking. It is very easy and safe, any car going to the park will stop;
- The park entrance is 4.500 pesos, quite expensive compared to other National Parks in Chile but it is worth it!
- Inside the park there are equipped cabañas for 55.000 pesos (book in advance) and the campsite in the camping costs 40.000 pesos (look for the mistake!). I slept in Melipeuco for 16.000 pesos/night.
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