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Friday, 01 January 2016

Parque Nacional Conguillio (Conguillio National Park), Chile

Written by Dan Duke
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We had the chance to make it to Parque Nacional Conguillio in Chile´s 9th region (Araucania).  Conguillio is east of Temuco, situated around Llaima Volcano. This national park has over 15,000 acres and is a UNESCO Biosphere Araucarias Reserve. From Conguillio you have an amazing view of the Llaima volcano (10250 feet above sea level) and access to Lake Conguillio, the Truful River, and Laguna Verde — all of which have good fishing. There are also the Captrén and Arcoiris Lagoons and the Las Araucarias and Las Vertientes paths and the Sierra Nevada. Wonderful flora and fauna abound in all directions. 

Conguillio features some of the most incredible hiking we've found anywhere in South America. With the crunch of lava rock under foot, smoke on the waters, and ancient sounds in the air, this is the kind of place that will make you lose your context immediately, wondering where you even were 24 hours before. It is an intensely beautiful and surreal place.

The facilities are far and away the nicest we've found in any national park in Chile; we learned it´s due to a joint venture between CONAF (Chilean forestry service) and a private philanthropic foundation. In addition to having fully furnished and comfortable cabins, there is a small store, a cafeteria, an information center, forest rangers and fishing and randonnée (backcountry ski touring) guides.

Nearby towns include Melipeuco, Vilcun, and Curacautin.

We stayed at the Sendas lodges, but there are other nearby lodgings in Vista Hermosa and La Baija, which are also inside the national park on the other side of the Trifu River. We were told that the lodgings at Parque Conguillio get fully booked in the summer season, especially January & February, but there are good nearby alternatives if you want a cabin. 

 

Driving times:

Approximately 2.5 hours by car from Temuco via Melipeuco. You can also access the park on the north side via Curacautín. We found everything we needed in grocery stores in Melipeuco before arriving at the park.

Activities:

Trekking, horseback riding, cycling, mountain climbing, snowmobiling, randonnée , fishing, fly fishing, swimming, kayaking, photography, birdwatching, and simply relaxing outdoors enjoying the flora and fauna. I must admit my favorite activity was using the outdoor hot tub.

ParqueConguillioActivitiesA


 

Location:

Chile´s 9th region (Araucanía). Northeast of Melipeuco and 110 kilometers east of Temuco; approx ref: -38.658703, -71.618961

How to get there?

We drove from Temuco to Melipeuco then another 28 km to the park entrance. The park website details another route, as well as access by bus through Melipeuco.

Walking with the Dinosaurs

If you recall the BBC/Discovery Channel series “Walking with the Dinosaurs”— it was filmed here at Parque Nacional Conguillio, chosen for its hypnagogic, ancient volcanic landscapes filled with the ancient and armored appearance of the araucania trees that stand everywhere like Mesozoic umbrellas.

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When is the park open?

Spring through Autumn {November–April}. We were there just after the park opened for the season, and at the time all the snow had melted in the lowlands.

Climate

Humid and temperate weather. Northern extension of the Valdivian temperate rain forest. It could be raining at any time of the year. The temperature fluctuates widely between day and night in the interior, and it gets much colder in the highlands (similar to what you would find in Lake Tahoe). We were all comfortable. We lit the wood stove each night, but it wasn't really necessary.

Surrounding Attractions

Gorraluo Ski Center, Collico Lake, Galletue Lagoon, Malalcahuello, Conguillío National Park, Tolhuaca National Park, Alto Bío Bío National Reserve, Dillo River, Indio Waterfalls, Manzanar Springs, Llaima Volcano. In the area you can also find canopies, ziplines, a few eco-tourism spots, hotsprings (termas) and many fishing opportunities in the countless rivers and lakes. The Argentina crossing to Villa Pehuenia is also not far away.

Admission

The entrance costs are approximately $1 (US) for children and $6 (US) for adults. Campsite Cabins vary in cost and are subject to availability. You should check the website and make reservations as early as possible. We made our reservations by credit card without a hitch.

Trekking

There are one-, two-, and three-day trekking options with many chances for viewing wildlife, fishing, and relaxation along the way. If you have the gear, it´s a perfect destination for hiking and sleeping under the stars.

ParqueConguillioMapA 

http://www.parquenacionalconguillio.cl/

 

©Dan Duke

 

Last modified on Friday, 01 January 2016