place to watch UFOs land
easy, but spectacular circuit requires little organization and
offers lasting impressions from a small area. The tour leads
though the Vilches Nature Reserve and can be done on foot or
horseback. The park entrance can be reached easily by bus from
two to three days with at least one night camping at the romantic
"Laguna del Alto", this trail leads across solitary Andes passes
and through dense forests to the legendary UFO landing area.
Here, over thousands of years, the Río Claro river has cut a
riverbed 1000 m (3281 ft.) deep. The plateau overlooking the
gorge seems to be tiled, giving rise to many a myth. There is
hardly a local who does not claim to have seen mysterious lights
beginners on horseback, this trail is a good opportunity to
train for longer tours. Farmers living near the entrance to
the park are willing to rent their horses for little money,
and also offer organized tours. However, there is no infrastructure
on the way, so all food and camping equipment must be taken
to get there
trail starts at Vilches, which can reached easily by public
h, 1200 m/3940 ft. ,
320 m/1050 ft.
summer, because of the strong irradiation above the tree line,
it is recommended to start early in the morning. From the park
administration (1200 m/3940 ft.) the trail leads past Piedras
Tacitas (cup rocks), where we turn left to "Laguna del Alto"
following a sign at the turn-off. After altogether 1.40 h and
500 m/1640 ft.
we arrive at Piedras Blancas (light-colored rocks) at 1725 m/5660
ft. This first part of the trail leads through beautiful forests
with thick Coigue trunks and then slowly into a less dense forest
with a magnificent view of the Central Valley that extends as
far as the coastal mountain range.
trail continues through increasingly sparse forests and is soon
above the tree line. After half an hour and a climb of 190 m/620
we reach the slope leading up to the pass. This spot at 1900
m (6230 ft.) is easy to find because of its stony ground in
the middle of the slope otherwise thickly covered with shrubs.
From here, the trail continues first along the crest and then
winding its way up to the pass at 2327 m/7635 ft. We arrive
at the pass after just over one hour later and 420 m/1380 ft.
view displays Lago Colbún, the Melado reservoir, snow-covered
Cordillera Lástima y the San Pedro and San Pablo Volcanoes.
During the entire climb we can admire interesting Andes flora
such as amaryllis and nassauvia. From the pass we recommend
the detour to the Cerro Peine peak at 2450 m (8038 ft.) because
of its view. The ascent of 100 m/240 ft.
through rocky ground takes only 15 minutes. Once on the summit,
it is worthwhile to take a long break, enjoying the panorama
of Laguna del Alto, Descabezado
Grande and Cerro Azul in the east and the glaciated Cerro
Azufre in the north. With good weather we can see as far
as the Palomo Volcano.
descend to the pass. Laguna del Alto is already lying below
us. Descending 270 m/900 ft.
for 45 minutes across rough boulders, the trail winds its way
down to the lake. Before we actually get to the shore of the
lake, some 50 m/160 ft. above the lake at 2070 m/6800 ft., we
will find some great places to camp. Northeast of the lake there
is another meadow with spots suitable for camping. In December
the water is already warm enough for a swim. Other smaller lakes
besides Laguna del Alto are much warmer.
h, 580 m/1900 ft. ,
1100 m/3600 ft.
the beginning, the trail is not very easy to make out as it
winds its way up the slope north of the lake. If you do not
find your way, go up the grassy slope starting at the middle
of the lakeshore. There are a lot of boulders along the path.
At the upper end of the slope you are bound to meet the trail,
which is clearly marked here, leading east. After about 1 h
(220 m/720 ft. ),
we arrive at a gentle pass at 2200 m/7220 ft. In early summer,
this place is covered with amaryllis flowers.
us is a basin-shaped valley with a wide meadow. We leave the
trail and cross this green meadow diagonally heading northeast.
Soon we meet the trail again, which winds its way up the slope
on the other side of the basin. Further up, the trail becomes
clear as it leads along the back, offering great views of the
Lircay Valley far below us. After 1:15 h (160 m/525 ft.
and 190 m/620 ft. )
we arrive at a crossroads at 2170 m/7120 ft.
the left, the path descends into the valley; straight ahead
it takes us to the natural Enladrillado plateau after 10 minutes
and 20 m/65 ft. .
While the seemingly tiled plane is great for camping, this is
only recommended in spring while there is still some snow left,
otherwise there is no water. To the east, the plateau drops
off abruptly almost 1000 m/3280 ft. deep into the Río Claro
river gorge. Across the gorge, the snow-covered Andes stand
in solitary splendor.
this magnificent view we return to the crossroads. Several hundred
meters west of the Piedra de Conejo (rabbit rock), the trail
takes us 560 m/1840 ft.
deep into the Lircay Valley, where we arrive after about one
hour. Just before reaching the brook, where there is a good
place to camp at 1700 m/5580 ft., a sandy trail branches off
to the left. This path takes us through shady forests directly
back to the park entrance.
1 h (70 m/230 ft. ,
210 m/690 ft. )
we arrive at another fork in the trail. The left trail goes
up to the basin-shaped meadow above Laguna del Alto that we
crossed the day before. We follow the large trail straight ahead
and, after 40 minutes (140 m/460 ft.
and 35 m/115 ft. ),
we reach the official Conaf (National Forestry Corporation)
campsite at 1460 m/4790 ft. We continue to the left following
the gravel road and arrive at the entrance to the park half
an hour later.
is made easy with the help of the “Condor Circuit”
trekking map, with detailed information
at a scale of 1:50,000. Order it here.