hiking Sendero Enladrillado, Chile

“… Arguably the best hike in all of middle Chile, the full-day Sendero Enladrillado takes you to the top of a unique 2300m basaltic plateau with stunning views. …”
– Lonely Planet

Descabezado volcano

Descabezado volcano

How could I resist? 🙂

I reached Reserva Nacional Altos de Lircay from Talca bus station, 65km west of the Park. A sunny summer Friday afternoon, my Buses Vilches contraption headed to the mountains was packed. I was lucky to get a seat, one of the few perks of having grey hair.

From where the bus drops you off after 90min it’s around a 2km walk uphill to the Conaf administration building. Open even though it was after opening hours.

An older gentleman checked me in but – for some reason – charged me double for Park entrance. 10,000 rather than foreigner’s rate of 5000 pesos. I assumed the extra 5000 was for camping. At the time.

I was given a simple map and instructions on the best hike. A counterclockwise loop seeing all the highlights over about 8 hours.

It was dusk by the time I walked uphill another 2km (in crocs) to Camping Antahuara, also run by Conaf. The boys at the campground – after seeing my two Park entrance receipts, did not charge me for camping. Gracias.

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Conaf’s Camping Antahuara is an excellent campsite. And I actually had electricity!

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I listened to audio books, Spanish lessons. And got to sleep early.

Morning dawned bright and sunny. Again. It was a summer heat wave in Chile.

By 8am I was started up to Enladrillado carrying only a day pack. It felt easy.

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This is a popular hike. I saw nearly as many people as lizards.

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It’s steep in places. I recommend you hike right to left, climbing more gradually to the Enladrillado, descending from the Laguna viewpoint.

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Enladrillado is great. But if you’d climbed all the way up here without seeing Descabezado (“decapitated”), you’d be disappointed. This is a hike for good weather. Phone the Ranger station (71) 220 9517 to check on he visibility before heading up.

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It was getting hot.

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I hid out in the shade dreaming of hiking all the way to Descabezado base camp. And climbing. Some day.

Cerro Azul

Cerro Azul

Starting here and continuing to Parque inglés is called the Circuito de los Condores. (Condor Circuit)

That’s what I should have done this trip. 😦

Next I started looping back towards Camp across the dry plateau.

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Up high I saw only 3 small water sources. It’s not easy for flora or fauna to live up here.

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Some cloud was rolling in down in the valley. Rangers had warned that a “little rain” was in the forecast for the weekend.

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Here’s the viewpoint overlooking the laguna.

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It’s a lot further down than it looks.

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Though all kinds of signage makes clear that camping is not allowed, it appears the rule is not enforced. Many hikers up here were carrying sleeping bags.

This large group did not get to the top of the plateau until 1:30pm. Sadly the clouds were climbing higher. They’d likely miss the views.

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I was back in camp before 4pm. The only highlight on my return this fox. In Spanish you can call him “El Zorro”.

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I’d seen his cousins in Patagonia (10yrs ago) brazenly rob tents. I resolved to be more careful hiding away my camping food in Chile.

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Enjoying the campground, I decided to stay another night rather than bus back to the city. It rained all night. 😦 I missed the morning bus by 2 minutes 😦 delaying my exit by about 5 hours.

Still, I highly recommend Sendero Enladrillado in good weather. I’ve added it to our list of best hikes in South America.

The best guidebook I’ve seen is Trekking por Chile 40 Rutas 2015 (Spanish). It’s available in larger bookstores in Chile.

related wiki – Altos de Lircay circuit, Enladrillado

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