walking Vina del Mar to Valparaíso, Chile

trip report by site editor Rick McCharles

People from the BIG CITY of Santiago love to escape to Valparaíso on the coast.

Valpo is popular with tourists who enjoy the city’s labyrinth of cobbled alleys and colorful buildings.

It has a a mild Mediterranean climate.

In 1996, the World Monuments Fund declared Valparaíso’s unusual system of funicular lifts (steeply inclined carriages) one of the world’s 100 most endangered historical treasures.

Valparaíso is protected as a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

I decided to walk to Valpo along the coast from Viña del Mar, an upscale suburb to the north famed for great beaches.

Having walked the beaches the previous evening, I started near the castle.

There were plenty of runners and cyclists, but not many walkers.

Birds are always a highlight in Chile. Pelicans have always been some of my favourites.

Originally a port and fishing centre, much of the coast has not been improved for pedestrians.

Some has.

Fishermen use mobile phones now.

There’s a lot of traffic on the coastal road. At one point you are pushed inland by train tracks.

Parts of this 3 hour walk I did enjoy.

Other sections I found annoying. Graffiti EVERYWHERE was starting to bother me.

A real highlight near Valpo is watching sea lions close up on this abandoned concrete structure. It’s amazing they can get up there. It’s entertaining to watch them negotiate who gets the prime real estate. And who gets pushed off back into the sea.

The best part was arriving in Valparaíso and joining a free (for tips) walking tour. The daughter of one of the gentlemen in our group had tons of fun sliding down a cement ramp.

All in all I wished I’d — instead — spent my time hiking out at Parque Nacional La Campana.

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climbing Piltriquitrón out of El Bolson, Argentina

trip report by site editor Rick McCharles

Click PLAY or watch my HOW TO video on YouTube.

As many do on this popular hike, I walked from El Bolsón, centro. Three hours of dusty, but tranquil road walking to get to the parking lot.

(Actually, I tried a trail alternative recommended on my Maps.me app. Bad idea, as it turned out. Coming down I stuck to the road.)

Taxi would cost at least $25. Drivers don’t like going up here. You MIGHT be able to join up with others to split the cost at a collectivo office near the Via Bariloche bus station.

It took me about 4 hours to reach the Piltriquitrón hut and campground.

After a brief siesta I headed over to the nearby El Bosque Tallado (carved forest). $5 entrance.

There are over 50 crude wooden sculptures with new ones being added. A fire in 1978 inspired lead artist Marcelo López to initiate this tourist attraction.

Click PLAY or watch it on YouTube.

The refuge has a superb location. People can’t get enough of the vistas.

I enjoyed dinner at sunset, myself, overlooking El Bolsón.

Alpenglow was lovely this evening. I didn’t edit this photo.

I was on the summit trail by 9am next morning.

Pack horses were grazing free.

Easy going until the final scramble before the top.

There’s a 360 degree vista from the peak.

A German living in El Bolson just spend 5 days up in those craggy, intensely glaciated peaks. Because there are no alpine huts, he had that wilderness to himself.

I could clearly see Tronador volcano about 100km distant.

Rick atop Piltriquitrón

I had done the 1800m ascent over 2 days.

I was back down to the hut by Noon. Back to town, very tired, by 3pm. That’s 1800m of descent.

Supposedly it’s easy to hitchhike back down from Piltriquitrón. I had no luck.

Buenos Aires Ecological Reserve

Buenos Aires Ecological ReserveReserva Ecológica de Buenos Aires, also known as Costanera Sur Ecological Reserve, Reserva Ecológica Costanera Sur, is a 865-acre (3.50 km2) tract of low land on the Río de la Plata riverbank located on the east side of the district of Puerto Madero in Buenos Aires CBDArgentina.

I walked the big loop enjoying most observing the wetlands birds and creatures. My highlight was spotting a Coipo (Myocastor coypus).

If you want to escape the traffic noise of the big city, this is the place to go.

Jogging or cycling that loop would be preferable to walking, in my opinion. It’s ideal for both.

Best of the Bruce – Rattlesnake Point to Crawford Lake

trip report by site editor Rick McCharles

This is the last of my hikes on The Bruce for 2017. I’m planning to return in 2018 to hike  the Bruce Trail Peninsula section, a maximum of 8-9 days averaging 16-20 km per day.

A trail runner friend had recommended the Halton Region area close to Toronto.

I parked at Rattlesnake Point, one of best and most popular destinations on the Bruce.

People come on a nice day to enjoy views from atop the Niagara Escarpment.

It’s popular with rock climbers though I saw none the day I was there.

The trails are well signed. Some would argue there are too many signs.

Still … this sign maker managed to bungle Buffalo Crag.

Rattlesnake is on the Milton Outlier, a section of the Niagara Escarpment that has eroded away from the rest.

I took the Nassagaweya Canyon trail down and then back up to the Escarpment on the other side. I did this hike as a trail run. Boardwalk in the canyon much appreciated.

Arriving at the Crawford Lake Visitors Centre first I was immediately attacked to the Iroquoian village longhouses.

Circa the 13th – 17th centuries over 10,000 artefacts have been recovered from this location.

Artist Robbin Wenzoski has some impressive chain saw sculpture on the lake trail.

Crawford Lake

From here I decided spontaneously to make up a lollypop loop heading back towards Rattlesnake on Woodland and Escarpment trails.

More great views this time from the other side of Nassagaweya Canyon.

By connecting trails it’s to decide how far to hike based on the weather and how you feel. I did about 20kms altogether in a half day.

By the way, you’ll only find harmless garter snakes here. There are no Rattlers.

See my photos on Flickr.

related:

• Bruce Trail app | Bruce Trail Reference Guide – 29th Ed

• BruceTrail.org

Hike Hong Kong blog

Guest post by Jean-Christophe Clement:

 

When I moved to Hong Kong in 2008, I had this idea of a concrete jungle. This was indeed the case. However, foreigners usually don’t realize that Hong Kong territory is less than 10% urbanized, and over 40% of the land is designated as country parks. I soon discovered that there was a world of outdoor adventures for me to discover. However, the information that was available back then on how to get to the nicest trails, waterfalls, and other lesser known spots was scarce and mostly in Chinese. Furthermore, the instructions on how to get to the trails, and stay on the trails were approximate, at best!
 
That’s how the HikeHongKong blog was born; out of a desire to make access to the wonderful Hong Kong trails easy and accessible to all.
The response from hikers has been beyond my greatest hopes; as of July 2017, HikeHongKong gets over 100,000 hit a month, mostly from Hong Kongers, but also from the U.S.

 

Today, I have over 150 documented Hong Kong hikes with full instructions on how to get there without a car, difficulty ratings, cel-phone reception, maps, etc.
 
There are 3 ways to get to all the goodies:

 

 In closing, I leave you with my Top Hong Kong hikes.
 
Happy trails!

best hike – Goreme, Cappadocia, Turkey

trip report by besthike editor Rick McCharles

Panoramic viewpoint > Rose Valley > Çavuşin > Love Valley > Uchisar Castle > Pigeon Valley > Göreme

For hikers Göreme is probably the best base for Cappadocia. You can literally go off hiking in any direction.  It’s got a good variety of restaurants and accommodation too.

On arrival in Göreme someone will hand you a FREE hiking map.

Most wander around with this thingfrequently getting lost. We could find no decent map nor guidebook in 2017.

For 6 days I hiked and cycled many of these trails, often lost, before finally deciding on what I felt was the best hike.

Ask the people at your accommodation in Göreme how to get to the Rose Valley Panoramic viewpoint. They’ll likely recommend a taxi and tell you the price. It’s about a 15 minute drive uphill from town.

There is a small entry fee for Panoramic viewpoint. The taxi may drop you outside the gates.

Here begins the Rose Valley trail. 5km to Caveusin. Most feel Rose is the best hike of all. And I’d agree.

Note that most of the trail signage is in Turkish.

There are many twisting and turning trail options. All are good but the very bottom of the valley might be muddy.

Rose is popular with cyclists, too.

Gorgeous, surreal scenery.

End of the trail is the village of Çavuşin.

If you haven’t yet seen enough Church caves — you might want to visit the World Heritage site Caveusin Kilisesi.

From Çavuşin you need to get to the Love Valley trailhead. Ask in town. It’s about 1km up the highway towards Goreme. (There are shortcuts.)

If walking the highway here’s the turn-off. These pink signs are the best of the admittedly poor and confusing trail signage in the area.

From there you can’t miss it.

Love Valley is the second best trail in my opinion.

Why they call it Love Valley I can’t imagine. 🙂

You can see here how those columns erode away from the valley wall.

It’s about 4km uphill to the end of the Love trail. If not lost you’ll finish at this tourist trap.

Bus tours stop and parade their unwilling passengers through the souvenirs.

Cross the highway and make your way up to the top of impressive Uchisar Castle. There’s a small entry fee.

Exiting on your way down ask for the Pigeon Valley trailhead. Look for these pigeons. It’s not difficult to find.

Some have reported seeing no pigeons in Pigeon Valley. We saw plenty.

Historically farmers built roosts for pigeons in the valley wall in order to later collect their guano.

It’s downhill to Göreme. A nice but often crowded walk.

Looking back to the Castle.

You might spend 4-6 hours including stops on this best hike.

Panoramic viewpoint > Rose Valley > Çavuşin > Love Valley > Uchisar Castle > Pigeon Valley > Göreme

click for larger version

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A shorter alternative would be to loop Pigeon to Love Valley. It’s a 2km walk up the highway back to Göreme, however.

We really need someone to put together a decent map of trails out of Goreme. Hundreds of thousands visit every year and almost all do some hiking.

related – Hike Bike Travel – 21 Photos That Will Make You Want To Hike In Turkey’s Rose Valley