Lagunas y volcanes

After a busy week and a half in confinement in our hotel in Santiago, we are spending our last few days in Chile writing up the blog posts that are still overdue. Despite the early interruption of our journey, we have been very fortunate in being able to visit many incredible places and in meeting truly wonderful people over the past few months. Our story would not be complete without sharing our last week of travel experiences (first half of March 2020) prior to our auto-confinement in Southern Chile.

Following the 90-day state of emergency announced by the Chilean government in mid-March, the country closed all its national parks, natural reserves and monuments for an undetermined period of time. We had just spent the preceding days camping in the Parque Nacional Laguna del Laja and the Parque Nacional Conguillio.

The Laguna de Laja was formed when a lava flow from the Volcan Antuco (2985 m) dammed the Rio Laja and the eerie landscape of the park is made up in large part of old lava fields. Chile has an estimated 3000 volcanoes of which 90 still currently exhibit some level of activity, and many can be visited in its national parks. Laguna de Laja is filled with emerald colored water but it was dry in many places during our visit.

Laguna de Laja
Laguna de Laja
Volcanic landscape
Transparent waters
Driving through a volcanic landscape
Panoramic view of Lago de Laja

We spent a couple of days in the park relaxing, hiking, and Laurent tried his hand at fishing (unfortunately he did not catch anything and ended up losing a few lures). To my surprise I discovered the soothing and therapeutic effect of the sound of light and porous lava rocks crunching below our shoes!

crunch crunch crunch!

The wind in this particular area of Chile is incredibly strong when it picks up in the late afternoon and we had to search long and hard to find a suitable place to wild camp in the evening. Although we did not make it to Southern Patagonia in the end, we had a preview of what might have awaited us had we been able to continue down that far. The beaches along the lake are made up of volcanic sand and although they look inviting, driving along them with a 3.5 ton truck is not recommended! The one and only time we had to take out the big shovel and dig ourselves out of the sand was in this park! I think Laurent was secretly pleased to use the equipment that we had brought with us.

Volcan Llaima 3125m, one of Chile’s most active volcanoes, is found in the Parque Nacional Conguillio. The park also showcases the majestic araucaria (monkey puzzle) tree, an evergreen tree native to Chile and Argentina that can grow up to 50 m in height. It is Chile’s national tree and once you see it you cannot forget its spiky and stiff scale-like leaves arranged in spiral formation along the branches. It is difficult to describe the beauty of this park as the landscapes are quite diverse and contrasting depending on the sector. The volcano dominates the scenery in many places and a huge lava field running around a green grove of trees can be seen at one end of the park. There are several lakes within the park and the transparent turquoise and emerald colored waters are simply astonishing! The park has many hiking trails and even the short ones are packed with natural attractions. Not much more to say…the photos speak for themselves!

Araucaria trees
Unbelievable colors of Volcan Llaima
Laguna Quillio
Laguna Verde
Laguna Verde

Our last bivouac before heading back to urban life and 6 weeks of confinement (although of course we had no clue about this at the time) was along the northern shores of Lago Caburga, not too far from Villarica and Pucon.

This particular spot holds a special place in our heart……a huge flat grassy plain with a small stream running through it, a few friendly cows, amazing lake views, and at night absolute silence and a spectacular backdrop of stars in the black sky. If we had not made the split decision to head south when the border closures started in neighboring Argentina we would have gladly spent several more days in this little piece of paradise!


8 thoughts on “Lagunas y volcanes

  1. Dernier reportage avant le retour toujours aussi bien rédigé par Angie avec des photos qui nous font rêver. De tout coeur merci de nous avoir fait profiter de ce voyage et je suis sûre que dans quelques années vous pourrez continuer votre aventure. En attendant bon retour à la maison

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  2. What a wonderful trip anyway – long awaited and planned, well-deserved! I was following your blog during the whole trip and congratulations: the current situation shows very well but life is not waiting for us to do things and we just need to go ahead and live! That is what you did with this amazing trip… 🙏🏻🍀

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    1. Hello Rita. Thanks for your message. You have nicely put into words what we have been feeling these past weeks. It was the trip of our life which we so carefully planned and which we waited for many years to take. It was an extremely difficult decision to turn the page on the adventure, but we have hopes that we may be able to finish it in the years to come, if the conditions are right. We learned a lot about life and ourselves in the few months we spent on the road and had the opportunity to experience so many great things…..we will continue being inspired by life and all it has to offer.

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  3. What a wonderful world…….despite Covid and all….. ohhh yeah…….your favourite grassy plain and lake view brouhaha good ole Louis Armstrong to mind. Stay safe hope you get back ok

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