Parque Nacional La Campana
Today we visited a place I’d been wanting to go to for awhile, La Campana National Park. It’s an hour or so outside of Viña and accessible via mass transit. Charles Darwin visited here in 1835 and hike to the top of one of the mountains. We weren’t going to go that far, it takes all day, but nonetheless we did get to walk in his footsteps for a little ways, which I thought was pretty cool. It’s also just a beautiful place with lots of native flora and fauna. There are stands of Chilean palms (which we didn’t see) and lots of different hiking trails (some of which we did see). There’s also camping and horse riding, the, ah, evidence of, we saw all along the trails.
Getting to La Campana from Viña
To get there, we took the Metro all the way to the end, Limache, which was fun. It’s about 45 minutes and mostly above ground, so we got to see some nice countryside and some of the nearby smaller town and cities; and it was only $774 pesos, about $1.25 U.S. to get there. From there, we caught a collectivo which was $1000/person to get to the road into the park and another $2000 to the actual park entrance which is otherwise another 20 minute hike uphill. So about $10 U.S. for about a 30 minute drive from the Metro station for four.
There’s a small charge to get into the park and the ranger at the entrance gave us a map with some suggestions for walks we could take when we told him we planned about 2-3 hours hiking. He also took a name, phone number and city we were living in, which we thought was pretty responsible; a way to try and get in touch and keep track of us if something went wrong. And then we were on our way.
Into the Woods
The first part of our hike took us up into some woods. Much of the park is still made up of native vegetation, and one loop we took on this part of our hike contains regular markers in front of trees telling you their name. There also were places for signs that would presumably give more information, but the signs were not in their holders. The signposts looked new, and we weren’t sure if the signs just weren’t in yet or if they take them out during the off season for preservation. In any event, though the day was sunny, cloudless and beautiful, it was chilly up in the mountains and shade. Some of this part of our walk included areas where Darwin hiked, which again we thought was pretty neat.
Here are some pictures from part one, remember to click on the thumbnails for the full size picture.
Into the Sun
Having completed part one of our journey, we decided to ignore the park ranger’s instruction and take a detour on a different path that would take us into the sun; we felt we had earned it. We hiked up to the shelter we had seen from the other side, passing a couple of abandoned mines along the way. One mine you could go into a short way, but none of my pictures came out; the other is blocked off but I still got some better pictures from the entrance. We enjoyed the warmth of the sun, the views, even though the peak Darwin climbed, Cima La Campana, was horribly backlight. What’s up with that?
Speaking of pictures, here they are from part two. And guess what? You can click on the thumbnails to see them full sized and at their proper dimensions.
And then we headed back. This time we had to walk out where the collectivo had driven us in, and ended up going a good way into Olmué, the town nearest to the park. We did catch a micro eventually that took us back to Limache. We found a place to get a light lunch, enjoyed the street dogs (really!) and then got back on the Metro to Viña, where we were serenaded by two different pretty good musicians (really!). It was a lovely day, the weather was amazing for this late in the fall, and I could definitely go back as we barely scratched the surface of Parque Nacional La Campana.
Enjoy some more pictures, and you really should click on them to see them full size. Really, I mean these are the good ones.
Links for more information about La Campana
http://www.conaf.cl/parques/parque-nacional-la-campana/ (In Spanish, but remember, if you open it in Chrome it will translate it for you … sort of)