A travel story always begins at the beginning but today our story begins at a volcano a waterfall and two travellers.
Being geared for cold weather the Trip Turbine team headed out to the Parque Nacional Laguna de la Laja, located 98 kilometres outside Los Ángeles, Chile. The 2-hour bus ride took us to the end of the paved road 10kms before the entrance of the park.
– A little-abandoned ski town at the foot of Vulcan Antuco
An early cold morning brought them to the small bus station and a cup of sweet Milo. Four peaches, one already devoured by Trip for breakfast is their meal for the next few hours until they find the way to the park and their final destination, the Flagstone Lagoon (Laguna de la Laja).
A blue double cab pickup pulls at and offers a ride. Speeding past waterfalls and the most amazing hexagon cliff faces while enjoying the morning air from the pack of the pickup back. We notice the selection of kebabs and Mote con huesillo, a traditional Chilean summer-time non-alcoholic drink made from wheat and peaches, being transported supposedly to be sold.
– Marius on the left, on the road around the volcano
Arriving at the entrance to the park, the pickup pulls in and the travellers hop off, dressed in warm clothing for the cold weather and to escape the harsh UV rays so high up. The park entrance welcomes visitors, a toll paid and the two travellers were heading into the park, the only people on foot, heading up a mountain towards the lake and the foot of the volcano.
The surrounding scenery is breathtaking, the black volcano and lush green areas as clear water streams mark their way down to the river out of the volcano.
– Here and there you have lush growth at the foot of the Vulcan and the purest cleanest water streams
A ranger pickup pulls up and the travellers hitch a ride again. The scenery becomes even more beautiful with the black volcanic rocks against the incredible blue skies.
– Landscape view of the volcano on the left and the lake on the right
A short distance further the temperature rises as they make their way up to Volcano Antuco. It is a stratovolcano and has an almost perfectly formed volcanic cone rising 2,979m above the waters of Laguna de la Laja, the highlight of this compact Andean national park.
Through the harsh volcanic environment, the travellers make their way up to the base of the Volcano and around to the tip of the bright blue waters of Laguna de la Laja.
The stark contrast between the lake and the volcanic rock enhances the feeling of euphoria. 45 soldiers died here when they got trapped during a training mission in the snow in May 2005.
Avoiding highways brings our adventures onto a new adventure all on its own, the road from the city of Chillán took our travellers via more adventurous gravel roads, via the city of Quillón. On this 85km road trip Trip had his first incident. On a corner with soft slippery sand the bike decided to head straight forward while its occupant decided to turn, the following event occurred. The bike began a sliding motion, lodging into a dive and the occupant, in this instance being Trip skidded underneath the vehicle. The dust cloud was legendary. Trapped beneath the bike, with two bags on top of him, he pushed the bike upright. By the time Marius got to return he was standing upright and ready to go.
The road was getting more and more dangerous, a car skidded off the road and the occupant wanted help. Being on scooters and barely understanding and after checking that no one was hurt they decided to press on to Chillán, pronounced as Chi-j-aan.
The sound of approaching helicopter alerted the Trip Turbiner’s to Marius’s bike having some exhaust problems. Arriving in Chillán they got some Mote con huesillo, it is almost a complete meal on its own, Chillán is built in a region of seismic activity, suffering from devastating earthquakes throughout its history; the 1939 Chillán earthquake left over 30,000 dead and mobilized international help. With their limited Spanish Marius found a friendly Chillán bike shop and had them fixed it up and then they were on their way again.
– Getting our bikes fixed, this guy quickly had us going from his little bike repair shop
The great cathedral of Chillán was built by architect Hernan Larrain Errazuriz, the beginning of this construction began in 1941 and ended in 1951. This building replaced the existing one after the devastating earthquake of 1939. The architecture resembles a huge dome formed by a succession of parabolic arches separated by 5 meters apart. In addition to this construction was an integrated cross the monumental 36-meter high bell tower, belfry openings that form the cross light inside that is accessing the only light to the stairs to ring the bells that are at its highest point. It is said that this cross is a memorial to all those killed in the earthquake of 1939.
– Cathedral of Chillán
– Inside the cathedral of Chillán
It is said that a new chapter in life begins when we are able to accept the past, look forward to the future and decide to continue life. Like a volcano, we stand on the brim of erupting whether it is in a second of 2000 years it is inevitable so live it to the fullest.