After being in the country for about three weeks, I finally got a chance to visit the mountains we live agonizingly close to. Not that I dislike the work we’re doing, because that’s not the case at all. But it was nice to pay a visit (for free) to one of Chile’s most revered attractions.
There were two separate day trips we went on, the first being a valley mid-high in theAndes(about 3000m) called Cajon del Maipo. The scenery was fantastic, and I had never driven through/hiked around completely snow-covered ridges before.
We drove as far as the dirt road went, and then hiked along a snow-covered road a bit further into the mountains. Also, since this place isn’t a park and it’s not the tourist season, we were pretty much the only non-Chileans there. And, we were treated to spotting two Andean Condors, which boast the largest wingspan of any terrestrial bird at up to 10 feet. Unfortunately they were far enough away to appear merely as dots in the sky even with binoculars, so there impressive size was hidden. Nonetheless, it was a neat sighting. A bit of a drive at 2 hours or so, but Cajon del Maipo’s definitely a place I’d like to revisit if I get the chance.
The second day trip we took was to a national park northeast of the city called La Campana. The landscape here—in the lowlandAndes—is very different, appearing more like the desert southwest I thought. There was no snow, but lots of cacti and endangered Chilean Palm trees. We took an afternoon hike to a small canyon and waterfall. The namesake of the park is a mountain, famous for being hiked by Darwin during his legendary Voyage of the Beagle in the mid-19th century. Hopefully we’ll get a chance to go back and climb the mountain as well. I’ve added two new picture albums with pictures from these two trips, so check it out!
Now, we’re leaving the city of Santiago for awhile. We’re headed up to Fray Jorge, a national park about 6 hours north of the city near the coastal town of La Serena. We’ll be trapping degus there for about 10 days, depending on our success rate. Living conditions will be a bit more rugged there, but probably nothing I haven’t dealt with before. And Loren says there have been puma sightings…