La Campana is a beautiful national park, famous for its sweeping views, challenging trails, and Chilean Palm Trees (Jubaea Chilensis). I think it also should be famous for how difficult it is to get to [from where I was, so Concón]. It goes something like this:
- bus from Concon to Viña del Mar
- metro from Viña del Mar to Lemache
- bus from Lemache to Olmué
- bus from Olmué Main Square to the street where the park is
- walk about 1km just to arrive at the entrance.
Bottom line, I haven’t even gone hiking yet, by the time I got there I was already tired and felt out of shape. Note to self: get moving.
After doing some research on La Campana National Park, I got the general message “If you want to get the summit of the mountain, get there EARLY-9AM”. Meaning, you have to be on the train by 6:30AM. Loud and clear. The next day, I was up at 5, out the door by 6, in Viña del Mar by 6:30AM. Guess what, the metro is not opened yet. Oh, why is that? Ohhhhh, it’s SATURDAY. Opens at 8:30…Great.
Here I am, standing there in the dark, trying to decide whether I should cough up $30 for taxi to get to the park or simply go tomorrow/next day/whenever… Finally, I went back to Concón and spent the day exploring the beaches and even went to the mall: needed a backpack, a visor hat, and a rain coat. Although I love my Fulbright bag, it’s over the shoulder and has one strap-can’t really hike with that. So, now I have a proper backpack.
The next day, I went to the park and made it to La Mina: the point that is about 2 km below the summit. Still, the views were astounding yet climbing was tough and it took me about 4 hours both up and down since I am a slow hiker.
Although I did not make it all the way to La Campana summit, I feel happy that I ended up going to the park anyway. The views were so worth it, and I burned quite a few calories -that's for sure! I took the so-called Sendero Andinista - hikers call it the classic trail. All of the trails are very well marked and clear to navigate. I now have a plan to take an early bus from Santiago to Olmué and make it to the summit. Maybe when it cools down a bit here...
As I crawled back into my Airbnb room back in Concón, Eugenia the host asked me: "So, how was your day?" "Awesome!"- I breathed out and fell asleep.