National Park Los Cipreses
Contact: Matthias Helldoerfer
Duration: 3 Days
Starting point: N.P. Rio Los Cipreses
Recomended website http://www.trekkingchile.com/EN/trekking-centralchile.htm
How to get there:
To get to the mining town of Coya from Rancagua, get on the Carretera Presidente Eduardo Frei Montalva (also called Carretera del Cobre), which was not built and maintained so perfectly for us mortals, but for the El Teniente copper mine further up. Right before the town`s edge, the gravel road to the hot springs of Cauquenes turns off to the right. Drive past the fancy facilities (see Day 3) on your left and continue on the gravel road that gets increasingly worse (fourwheel drive or pickup recommended) crossing the Pre-Cordillera to the entrance of Reserva Nacional Río Los Cipreses (50 km).
Here friendly CONAF staff will give you more detailed information on the route, as well as a somewhat confusing description of how to find the hidden petroglyphs. Six kilometers behind the Conaf building you will find the official Ranchillo campsite. After getting permission from the park rangers, you might be allowed to take the car 6 km further to a spot called Mailtenes at an altitude of about 1,200 m. Park your car next to the plantation for indigenous trees and start your tour from there.
From Rancagua to Maitenes it is at least a two hour`s drive. Public transport goes only as far as Coya. From there, it is 21 km to the park entrance - most of it uphill - and another 12 km to Maienes. So you might be better off waiting for a ride!
To the right of the tree plantation, an initially wide trail heads south into the valley of Río Los Cipreses. Early on, there are a few pretty views of the confluence of Los Cipreses and Cachapoal with a backdrop of steeply rising ragged 3,000 m peaks. The trail remains clearly visible throughout, running along the right side of the river. Especially in the lower part with its denser vegetation, it is of interest to the botanically inclined. While the ups and downs of the trail provide some diversion, you will be passing a number of nice campsites, and you will have to cross half a dozen creeks.
After about six hours of hiking, you will reach Camp Urriola at 1,500 m - easy to tell from a distance by its dark green stand of cypress trees. While the park rangers`hut on the other side may look inviting, you would have to cross the river with its strong currents, and it might also be better to try and avoid the potential Hanta virus risk.
You will follow the main trail upstream to Baúl creek, the closest wider valley of a tributary to the west. There, a trail leads up to the bluish mountain lake Piuquenes at about 2,500 m (4 hrs.). Return by the same route.
Another day tour goes further up Cipreses valley, past the Agua de la Vida / Agua de la Muerte springs, to the glaciated Quebrada Medina.
Return to Maitenes on the same route you ascended.
One the way back, it is worth taking a side trip to Termas de Cauquenes, one of the oldest and fanciest of Chile`s spa hotels. Even as a day user, you can relax fabulously in a tub or jacuzzi in this facility that is almost 200 years old. If you want to stay overnight, you will have to make reservations and account for the sleep prices. In return, René Acklin, the Swiss owner and his daughter Sabine, who are both world class chefs, will spoil you with exquisite dishes.
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