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Real Camping!!!

posted on 2019-10-07 11:57:46 in Patagonia

We departed Santiago just after the rush hour finished using the green metro line taking the train to Bella Vista de la Florida. From here we caught a local bus to San Jose de Maipo then after a short wait a second bus to Banos Morales.

The first night under canvas in Chile was indeed chilly camping on the outskirts of Banos Morales at an altitude of 1850m. Our spot was sheltered by trees providing a good natural barrier from the icy wind.  Nearby a fast flowing stream danced over rocks as it tumbled down the mountainside to join the main river in the canyon below. After pitching our tents we went for a walk along the Canjon Del Maipo, crossing the main river on a rickety wooden bridge. On the other side we enjoyed some spectacular mountain views of the local peaks close up.

The campsite was pretty basic with”Rock” hard plots to try and pitch in, it did have a toilet, some form of tables and chairs and plenty of fire pits. On the way back from our walk Thomas asked me if I could light a fire to cook our dinner. “No problem “ I said with a gleeful chuckle and promptly started gathering wood for the fire.

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The fire lit easily and was soon burning hot,  in no time the billy was on with our dinner cooking. The glow of the fire was very warming on the face and with smoked invested clothes it really did feel like we were camping, “Real Camping”

I am glad I undertook some hiking training before my departure. However, after hiking in the Monumento Natural el Morado it showed me how woefully inadequate it was and I am still in need of more hill miles under the belt before we trek in Patagonia. The initial climb took us to Laguna Morales, altitude 2400m. It was quite steep to begin for first 2km then a  steady uphill for a further 4km. We took our lunch break by the side of the laguna to enjoy the peace and beauty while relaxing and gazing over the water towards the glaciers San Fransisco and Morado creeping down from the mountains. After lunch a detour stroll along the lake edge to a water fountain that was piped directly from an alpine stream further up the valley. It was great to be able to fill my water bottle with fresh mountain water and taste the cool and refreshing water.

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I was surprised by how many birds were seen along way, which I have yet to identify including 2 ducks at high altitude on the lake. The highlight for me was seeing an eagle flying gracefully high above and then hovering above the laguna. Unfortunately it didn’t swoop down for prey nor oblige y coming closer for a photo. This followed the excitement of seeing a large condor the previous evening circling in the the thermals of the valley.

We finished our planned trekking with a day to spare, so rather than spend another day in the valley we decided to travel from the mountains to the sea and explore the coastal city of Valparaiso. The journey was relatively straight forward but would have been much easier if we had followed the advice of the woman who sold us the Metro tickets and not assuming we could fast track our trip and exit at Central Station to catch the bus from the main bus terminal. It turned out to be the wrong bus terminal and we then had to walk an extra 2km in 24c temperature through busy streets constantly dodging people to another bus station. Lesson learned – trust the advice given by people who do know better!!

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