National parks and reserves in the Central Valley

The central region has surprising biodiversity. La Campana, Siete Tazas, Altos de Lircay all speak for themselves.

Friday, July 24, 2009 Category: Tourism
Siete Tazas Siete Tazas (Photo:TurismoChile)

When he reached the summit of La Campana, 1828 meters above sea level, Charles Darwin was amazed at the sight. From the top you can see the Andes Mountains and the Pacific Ocean.

The 8,000 protected hectares were declared a National Park in 1967 and a Unesco World Biosphere Reserve in 1987. Its sclerophyllous forest of peumos, mesquite and litre, among others, together with an area in which the Chilean Palm, Jubaea chilensis, has established itself with over 62,000 specimens, contribute to the tremendous natural wealth, along with a geographic context that is unique in Chile.

The park is close to Santiago and Valparaiso and camping inside it is an incomparable experience of peace and harmony. Among its trekking trails, the one that connects the Ocoa and  Granizo in six hours stands out. Splendid views of the Fifth Region’s valleys and the Andean trail, which requires eight hours for the round trip, crown the summit of Cerro La Campana.

Radal Siete Tazas

The Andean foothills in the Maule Region also hold surprises. This is the case with the Siete Tazas National Park, which has officially been open since 2008. It has a surface area of 4,138 hectares and is comprised of cypress and oak forests.

The main attractions are the seven successive waterfalls in which the waters of the Rio Claro descend through wide openings carved out of the basalt rock over the course of millennia. It is ideal for photographing its beautiful panoramic views and is also a magnet for kayak lovers who dare to ride in the natural pools that the waterfalls form.

The area’s reliefs are equally intense. The hills El Alto (2,156 masl), Coligua (2,026 masl), Frutillar (1,680 masl), El Fraile (1,425 masl), and El Cordón de Guamparo (2,146 masl) stand out. There are sectors set aside for camping, several trails for trekking, and accesses specially adapted for wheelchair use.

Altos de Lircay

This park has recently earned a reputation for its trekking trails. It is a natural reserve near Vilches, in the foothills of the Maule Region.

Valle del Venado trail is recommended. It is 17 km long and takes 3-4 days, round trip. It climbs volcanic slopes that provide great panoramic views and has access to natural hot springs if one walks an additional 10 km.

The surroundings are imposing. The views of the main peaks in the region, Descabezado Grande (3,830 masl) and Chico (3,750 masl), are overwhelming. The experience is similar when observing the oak forests changing color in the autumn, until they take on an intense red shade. Altos de Lircay is the new attraction for hiking enthusiasts.
 

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