Sendero Los Lagos

It was time to go back to Huerquehue National Park!

The first walk that we did in the park was so awesome, we were ready for more! This time we would be walking the Sendero Los Lagos, which apparently is a 3-4 hour loop walk, taking in some nice lakes and more monkey puzzle trees – YES!

Well….. let me start by telling you that in the end, this was not a 3-4 hour loop walk, and in fact we walked for around 9 hours?! Yep…. and we also walked around 30 km. YES – THIRTY kilometres… we were very tired at the end….

‘How did this happen?’ I hear you ask… well first of all, there are two ‘loops’  – a ‘big’ loop and a ‘small’ loop – the small loop is the 3-4 hour one. Yes, and the ‘big’ loop is around 15km and takes 5-6 hours. For some reason only the big loop is on the map, but all the other information (such as the 3-4 hours walking time) is about the small loop.

Yes, well we found this a lot in Chilean National Parks – contradictory and confusing information. Most people that we met on the trail were confused about where they were walking, and most ended up doing the small loop as it’s the most clearly signposted. But NO, NOT US – we were using the map (unlike everybody else), so we ended up on the big loop.

The big loop has an ascent of around 800m (it reaches an altitude of 1500m) and takes in Lago Verde, Laguna Toro, Laguna Los Patos, and Laguna Huerquehue – so four very beautiful lakes, and of course lots of monkey puzzle trees! 🙂 🙂

You may be wondering where the extra 15km of walking comes from… well, first of all the walk actually starts 4km from where the bus drops you off at the park entrance… Yes, another common occurence in Chilean National Parks is walk distances listed for trails that don’t include getting there on another trail….. so there’s an extra 8km (return distance) just to get to the start of the trail. Some of this 4km is on another trail, and some is on the road – but actually what happens is that you leave the National Park, and then re-enter it again.

Some of the trail outside the National Park is quite nice, with lots of big trees:

I am not back in the National Park yet, but I am by a very big tree….

So, including getting to the trailhead and back, the walk becomes 23km. The next thing that happens, is that there are 3 waterfalls on the way up – but they are not next to the main trail – they have small side trails to reach them. Of course we wanted to see the waterfalls, so off we went down all the side trails….

One of the waterfalls that we visited.

Yes, now that you have seen the waterfall you probably are thinking that it’s no Iguazu Falls… but ‘until you go, you don’t know’ – yep that’s a new phrase that I just invented that even rhymes 🙂

So there was another 2km of waterfall detours taking us up to 25km distance….

After the waterfall detours, the trail started to get really good – with a steep ascent up to the lakes and monkey puzzle tree area. There were two lookout points on the way up – cleverly named ‘Mirador Number 1’, and ‘Mirador Number  2’.

Mirador 1
This is the view from Mirador 1. Of course it oontains a lake and a volcano (Villarrica Volcano)
Mirador Number 2.
This is the view from Mirador 2. Yes, it’s just like Mirador 1 except higher…
This is yet another close up of the volcano – because I just can’t get over how much I like looking at volcanoes.

After the miradors, the trail levelled out a bit and we started to enter lake and monkey puzzle tree territory.

PB is ready to cross the river.
The first of many lakes.
More lakeside views.
Monkey puzzle trees by a lake.
PB hangs out with the monkey puzzle trees.
We saw a cool lizard on a tree.
Mountains and monkey puzzle trees – who could ask for anything more?

There were lakes and beautiful trees and mountains everywhere. We were enjoying the walk immensely, and so when we came across this…..

Only 40 minutes to Mirador Renahue… but it’s not the way the trail goes…..

Yes, we couldn’t resist going to have a look. We calculated that we could manage an extra 90 minute detour – and so five more kilometres were added on to to the walk…..

So the big question is – was the detour worth it? Well, the walking committee decided that it was – it was really nice  🙂

Mirador Renahue.
PB goes to have a look around the corner from the Mirador.

After the mirador, it was DOWN, DOWN, DOWN most of the way, with one more lake to visit.

PB finds the biggest monkey puzzle tree he has ever seen. This one is probably around 500 years old!
Our final lake stop on the way back down.
PB sits by the lake with the map. CC has asked him if we will be down in time for the last bus….

With finely calculated timing, we made it back to the park entrance at around 7pm – a whole 30 minutes to spare before the bus came! YES! 🙂 Once again, the walking committee was too tired to meet that evening – and the following day the walking committee was temporarily disbanded – with the official reason listed as ‘it’s too hard to decide which walks are the best’…..

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