What a Perfect Day at La Campana

Hi, Yasha here, the third member of dare2go.

This past week I have joined up with the other two, Juergen and Berta, to do what we worked over a year in Germany for, and I’ve been working six months in Santiago for…

Yasha at Pichicuy

Yasha at Pichicuy

We spent a couple of days in Playa Pichicuy, just hanging out in Berta, listening to the Pacific Ocean roar through the night, and watching the spray of smashing waves breaching the sand dunes from the window during the day.

On Tuesday Juergen drove me south along the coast, retracing his steps of the previous week, and we stopped for the night in Maitencillo. Again we were parked with a full view of the ocean and I was really enjoying it.

We moved on to Horcón, an unusual little seaside town with some very funky building codes. Our parking place was quiet but the outlook wasn’t particularly exciting…

La Campana Natl. Park Chile: "Valle De Ocoa"

La Campana Natl. Park Chile: “Valle De Ocoa”

But the absolute highlight of this week would have to be La Campana National Park. We arrived on Friday evening and found a spot to park. It was a bit close to the road into the tent camping spot and somehow, even in a National Park, some Chileans have to drive their cars anywhere they go, so a bit too much traffic. Despite this, it reminded me of our first national park in the USA in our previous camper in 2006. Our first night in Joshua Tree N P brought on similar feelings – this is what we came here for, this is what we love to do, this is a place that we wouldn’t see any other way. At last I felt like I was ‘on the road’!

And, just as we did in Joshua Tree N P (up Ryan Mountain), we planned a walk that sounded quite doable – 6 km to a waterfall, with lovely views along the way and plenty of Ocoa palms that the park is famous for. So, on Saturday, we packed a lunch and headed off around 11 – the ranger had told us that 4 hours should be sufficient for the walk there and back, with some time to appreciate the area around the falls.

La Campana Natl. Park Chile: Cascada "Salta La Cortadera"

La Campana Natl. Park Chile: Cascada “Salta La Cortadera”

It was beautiful – the views along the way, the palms, the waterfall and its surrounds – BUT, it was 6 km uphill, some of it extremely steep. I’m used to walking around Santiago and probably walk an average of 6 km on any day, but not all of it uphill! On the other hand, Juergen hasn’t done any real walking since he stopped walking between the garage and the camper, many times a day, in Basdorf, whilst building our camper – and that wasn’t really uphill either. Our stops became more frequent and Juergen was on the point of turning around, but we kept going. We finally arrived at the top at 2.30 – that means a mere half an hour to look around and to get down again, according to Ranger ‘Ivan el terrible’!

La Campana Natl. Park Chile: colourful lizard in flowering bush

La Campana Natl. Park Chile: colourful lizard in flowering bush

We stayed around at the top to rest and recuperate, as well as to enjoy the view, and started down again sometime after 3.00. This turned out to be even more excruciating than the walk up! Both of us were complaining of pain in our back, legs, knees and even our toes. And, we hadn’t brought enough water – the bottle was empty when we left the top. We literally hobbled down the hill to get back to Berta. We arrived at 5.30, sun-burnt and hurting and exhausted.

There were not too many people on the track, which made it pleasant to walk. Everyone else we met was younger than us, and they were all fairly breathless and red-faced when they reached the top, which made us feel better about being total invalids on the way back.

Some tips if you want to try this walk:

  • Leave at around 9 to 9.30
  • Take plenty of water
  • Take your walking sticks
  • Cut your toenails before you go LOL
  • Make sure you have a hat and sunscreen – some, but not much, shade to be had

Do we want to do this walk again? Probably not, but we would recommend it. I still think it was a perfect day, just as I did on that long ago day in Joshua Tree N P.

La Campana Natl. Park Chile: "Casino" of Jubaea Chilensis palms

La Campana Natl. Park Chile: “Casino” of Jubaea Chilensis palms

You can find more information about La Campana National Park in our second blog post .


dare2go's human navigator (we're not lost because there's nowhere particular we have to be) alongside our Nexus 7 tablet, writer and editor of our blog, first cook and loving wife. Teaching English as a second language when possible.

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29 Responses

  1. Christine says:

    Very cool. When I saw that first photo I was going to say it reminds me of Joshua Tree! Not that I’ve ever been, haha. But La Campana looks like a fun national park. Not sure about that uphill walk though!

    • Juergen says:

      The scenery certainly reminds a little of the south-west of the USA. The climate in Central Chile is also similar – that’s why the Chilean wine palms seem to thrive in California, although they are growing very slowly.

  2. Beautiful – not sure trekking would be my thing but it is really beautiful. Chile is somewhere we really want to go when we finish Europe. Will have to bookmark this to read up more on visiting Chile. :)

    • Juergen says:

      Chile has some beautiful landscapes and is well worth a visit. For us with a camping vehicle the only unfortunate thing is that too much land is fenced in – we can never get off the road.

  3. Barbara Lewin says:

    Hello we are neighbors here in santiago. We live in one of the three towers that are in front of your motor home.
    The truth is that long ago we are intrigued by your presence in this neighborhood, until today, my husband, my little son and I, went for a ride in the new classic car that we bought, a 1965 Mercedes, and I noticed the website stamped on “the mysterious trailer” so I immediately put me to know what it was.
    The big surprise was the blog and its contents, I was fascinated by the story and enjoyed reading about Santiago and Mendoza also because coincidentally my husband is from there ..
    Well I’d love to learn more about your way of life, actually it’t inspire me a lot, and maybe someday we can do so. The biggest problem is the communication because my husband and I doesn’t speak very fluent English. So, I understand it very well ..
    Lots of greetings

    • Juergen says:

      We would love to meet up! I replied by email today.
      I actually noticed your lovely Mercedes on the street and took a photo:
      Mercedes 220S, mid 1960s model

  4. Veronika says:

    Sounds like a nice park..! Did you have a map available or you just followed some signs..? It’s hard to imagine as I haven’t been to a park like that yet:)
    Glad you managed to get back down in time!

    • Juergen says:

      We had a roughly drawn photcopied paper map from the ranger at the entrance, but most intersections of trails we walked were more or less clearly marked.

  5. Cory says:

    wow, you took some great pictures! I have visited South America yet, but I want to so bad… Especially after reading this post. :)

  6. I’m sure it was worth it in the end! You snapped some great pictures!! I’ve read that on hikes that take more than an hour and a half each person should have at least 2 liters of water. It’s always scary when you run out!

    • Juergen says:

      We were wrongly informed that there was a water source up top (there were a few faucets along the way) – this unfortunately had fallen victim to vandalism a while ago…

  7. Sounds like a place worth a visit. And you got a great picture of that Lizard!

  8. Karen Warren says:

    What a beautiful park. It must have been a fantastic walk.

  9. What beautiful photos. I still haven’t made it to S. America but this definitely inspires me to go. How is the teaching English market there?

    • Juergen says:

      There is a lot of opportunity here in Santiago to teach English, although the pay is not very exciting. I am loving it, but only just managing to live from it. I can recommend the two small schools I am working for. Yasha

  10. Brianna says:

    What a gorgeous place for a hike!

  11. Heather Cole says:

    It’s often the experiences that require the most effort that are the most rewarding and memorable, your hike certainly looked worth it! Looks like an amazing place to visit, and fun to be so flexible having a camper.

    • Juergen says:

      I think the connection could be the other way round: positive experiences which come with some effort or hardship stick to our memory on a deeper level than easygoing leisure time…

  12. Els says:

    Wow, beautiful scenery! Love the lizard pic, so well camouflaged!

  13. Claudia says:

    Cutting your toenails – for as silly as it may seem, this is actually great advice!! :)

    • Juergen says:

      Thanks! These were actually taken with my old “point and shoot” Nikon from 2006; I’ll get a new mirrorless Olympus this week ;)

  14. Breathless and red faced. Yep that would be me. But worth the walk though for views like that for sure.

  15. Lauren says:

    It looks so beautiful! That lizard really camouflages himself well, doesn’t he? I love the toe nail tip LOL.

    • Juergen says:

      LOL: it really hurts after a while when your toe nails push against the front of your shoes walking downhill (no joke).

  16. Those Ocoa palms are oh-so-stunning! What a picture perfect setting. Nice tips too- glad you made it back ok! :) I’d love to do this hike.

  17. Chile is my dream country. Maybe one day I will go day and I’ll definitely visit La Campana National Park :) IT looks beautiful on your pictures.

    • Juergen says:

      It’s certainly worth a visit. Unfortunately the park seems to be off the “radar” for most travellers from overseas – it’s just not a big ticket item, although it’s conveniently close to Santiago.

  18. Elena says:

    Looks like a beautiful park and hike, even though it left you breathless but I´m sure now you are happy you did it!

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