Tuesday, 1 December 2015
Estuario de Reloncavi and the Cochamó Valley
The drive to Cochamó was mostly along paved (tarmac) roads. A pleasant village with an old wooden church and a good view down a fjord to distant mountains.
After a coffee in a quaint little café we left the Estuario de Reloncavi and headed up the Cochamó Valley for 6 km to the roadhead. On the outskirts of Cochamó a police checkpoint, to our relief, confirmed that we had the correct documents for Sparky (our car).
After the ritual of signing in to visit the National Park, we headed up the muddy valley full of horse dung in our trail shoes. This is to the south of Calbuco, the active volcano, and as last April's ash and other debris mainly blew north, it didn't land on today's path. Instead of being like a walk over sand dunes (yesterday), today's walk was like an elongated version of a walk in Lud's Church in the Dane Valley. Hence the views were not as extensive as yesterday's. Never mind, it was a pleasant enough walk, with at one point the choice between a rather rickety wire bridge or a giant leap over a raging torrent. We chose the bridge.
We lunched around here, during which two of the few people we saw today went past. They were Matthew and Emily, from Huddersfield. They had spent a few nights up the valley and were a bit low on victuals. A few squares of chocolate helped them on their way.
After about 6 km (two hours) we decided we'd seen all that we were going to, so we turned around. Sue had kept stopping to photograph some of the plants in the forest's microclimate. Mostly green. Trees dripping with lichen. All I got was ferns and very tame but very blurry (in the low light) birds.
Apparently it takes about five hours to reach the first camping place up the valley. We met a good number of heavily laden climbers ascending to that camp, as well seven or eight weighed down packhorses. We are told that some people spend the entire summer climbing up here.
After our very brief trip we signed out and drove back down to Cochamó, where we found Matthew and Emily. They appreciated a lift to Ensenada, from where they would easily get to Puerto Varas for a rendezvous with some friends. They have been on the road for four months. Matthew will miss 'pigs in blankets' and his gran at Christmas time.
After dropping M and E off, Sue and I spent a while by the lake trying to decide on the rest of our itinerary, with limited success, before adjourning for some fish at a local restaurant (Val de la Murta) and heading back to La Quila for more fine views towards Osorno.
Inside Cochamó's church
The fjord at Cochamó
In the Cochamó Valley
- crossing the wire bridge
- the woodland walk (2)
- unfurling ferns
Dusk at La Quila, with Osorno and Puntiagudo