It was time to hit the trails again, and today we were going to Huerquehue National Park to walk the Sendero San Sebastian. We took the first bus from Pucón – nice and early at 8.30am, and it was only 3 degrees outside BRRRR! Yes, because we had been promised volcanoes and monkey puzzle trees, we would brave the early morning freeze.
Yes, you did hear me correctly – on this walk we would be walking through thousands of real, genuine, wild monkey puzzle trees – the tree that everybody loves because it looks so cool! 🙂 🙂 I must confess that I had never seen a monkey puzzle tree growing in the wild, and so was very excited – yes it does not take that much really.. 🙂
They only grow in Chile and Argentina, and they can live up to a thousand years old – and let me tell you, I was NOT disappointed in the trees, I could look at them all day (and in fact I did, and also took lots of photos – yep, we have a lot of photos of monkey puzzle trees…..).
What’s more, as well as the best trees in the world – this walk promised us a view of 8 different volcanes, and 5 different lakes.
Of course, with these kind of credentials, it seems that you have to put in a bit of effort, and it turns out that the walk is around 20km in total (10km each way), reaches a height of around 1950m, and involves an ascent of 1200m… it is also pretty much uphill the entire way (and of course, downhill all the way back….).
The way it works is slightly confusing, as you have to walk another trail first (sendero Quinchol), which it is connected to (they seem to like to do this in Chile) (the other trail is included in the total distance) The park literature said that the trail level was DIFICULTAD: Alta / apto para excursionistas bien entrenados‘ – meaning DIFFICULTY: High / suitable for well-trained hikers‘… YES, we are WELL TRAINED HIKERS – it’s OFFICIAL 🙂
Well, it was pretty hard work I have to say, and some of the terrain was quite difficult – but WE MADE IT! 🙂 And it took a mere 9 hours….. yes, we were VERY tired at the end, but we made the last bus back at 7.30pm…
So, let me tell you about the walk…..
It started from where the bus dropped us off, and we had to do a couple of kilometres to get to the start of the trail proper. Then we started to go up through the forest. It was a slow and steady climb, but I had to keep saying to CC, ‘Where are these monkey puzzle trees that I was promised’?!, so that she was sure to keep an eye out for the first one, and we could jump up and down with excitement….
It turns out that monkey puzzle trees like to grow above 1400m altitude, so although they were a bit thin on the ground to start with, they were soon appearing everywhere. Eventually we came out into a clearing, which was at the highest point of the Quinchol trail that is the connector trail to the San Sebastian trail, and that was when we got the full glory of the volcanoes as well. Yes, who could ask for anything more – volcanoes and also monkey puzzle trees all around! 🙂 🙂 🙂
In case you were wondering, the fourth volcano is called Llaima volcano – but it’s far away and it didn’t make a good picture – but we could stll see it, so it counts – and we had a total of four volcanoes that we could see from the same place.
After the clearing, the trail kept going upwards through lots and lots of beautiful monkey puzzle trees, and the views kept getting better and better as we went higher.
Finally after a long, hard slog we were at the top! There were 360 degree views all around, and the sky was still clear so we could see far into the distance.
We had a nice sandwich lunch at the top, as is tradition, and then it was time to go back down – with lots more opportunities available to take gratuitous photos of monkey puzzle trees! 🙂
And as if amazing monkey puzzle trees and snow-capped volcanoes were not enough, we got a special bonus on the way down…….
WOODY! 🙂 🙂 🙂
It was a long and tiring walk, but we made it back down to the bottom to get the last bus back to Pucón. We were so tired when we got back, that the walking committee had to have its meeting the next day.
There is very stiff competion now, but the next day the committee decided that this was definitely in the top 3 walks of the trip, and potentially a joint number one spot…. (but the walking committee changes its mind a lot, so the rankings are very fluid… 🙂 )