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Parque Nacional Huerquehue - National Park Curarrehue - Chile

One of oldest wildlife areas in Chile is Parque Nacional (PN) Huerquehue. This reserve began in 1912 as Parque Benjam├şn Vicu├▒a Mackenna and its name was later changed to Colico. Finally, in 1967 this 12,500-hectare protected area came to be known as PN Huerquehue. In Mapudung├║n, Huerquehue means Place of the Messengers.

PN Huerquehue has an irregular topography. Laying within a narrow glacier valley, its over 20 lakes are connected by a series of trails. Hiking is the most popular activity within the park, but there are also opportunities for bicycling, swimming, sport fishing, photography, and wildlife observation.

The landscape is covered by a variety of flora. Some of the species of flowers you'll see are the estrellita del bosque (Asteranthera ovata), the liuto (Inca lily, Alstroemeria ligtu), the m├şmulo rojo (Mimulus cupreus), the chilco (bush fuchsia, Fuchsia magellanica), violas and orchids. The woodlands, accented by helechos (ferns), are composed of coig├╝e (Nothofagus dombeyi), roble (Nothofagus oblicua), lenga (lenga beech, Nothofagus pumilio) and araucaria (monkey puzzle tree, Araucaria araucana). Mammals you may encounter are the zorro chilla (South American grey fox, Psuedolopex griseus), the zorro culpeo (Patagonian fox, Lycalopex culpaeus), the monito del monte (austral opposum, Dromiciops gliroides), the pud├║ (Chilean miniature deer, Pudu pudu) and the puma (Puma concolor). Birdlife include the Torcaza (Chilean Pigeon, Patagioenas (Columba) araucana), the Avutarda (Ashy-headed Goose, Chlo├źphaga poliocephala), the Aguilucho (White-throated Hawk, Buteo albigula), the Caiquen (Magellan Goose, Chloephaga picta), the ├üguila (Black-chested Buzzard-eagle, Geranoetus melanoleucus), the C├│ndor (Vultur gryphus), and the Carpintero Negro (Magellanic Woodpecker, Campephilus magellanicus).

PN Huerquehue has many trails you can hike, including one several-day trek. All take you on journeys through beautiful landscapes, with excellent views of the lakes and volcanoes.

Autoguiado ├Ĺirrico (Distance: 0.8 kilometers / 0.5 mile, Difficulty: easy, Duration: 30 minutes): Seven interpretive stations describe the forest ecosystems and high Andean lake geology.

Los Lagos (Distance: 8.8 kilometers / 5.5 mile, Difficulty: medium, Duration: 3.5 hours): The magic of this trail is created by fern-bedecked ma├▒├şo and coig├╝e woods, skyscraping araucaria and the Nido de ├üguilas and Trufulco waterfalls. Grand vistas of the Tinquilco and other lakes, R├şo Puc├│n and Volc├ín Villarrica heighten the experience. There is an information center at Nido de ├üguilas.

Quinchol (Distance: 5 kilometers / 3 miles, Difficulty: medium, Duration: 2 hours): This hike leads to a pampa (plain) of coir├│n (festus, Festuca monticola) surrounded by araucaria. Sightseers afford views of Lago Caburgua, Cerro Sebasti├ín and Tinquilco as well as the Villarrica, Lan├şn, Quinquilil and Chushuenco volcanoes. Sendero Quinchol connects with the Cerro Sebasti├ín trail.

Cerro San Sebastián (Distance: 8 kilometers / 4.8 miles, Difficulty: difficult, Duration: 5 hours): On this trek through the araucaria, coigüe and lenga forest you'll be rewarded with great views of volcanoes and lakes. This is also one of few places in the park where you'll see condors.

Los Huerquenes (Distance: 20.7 kilometers / 12.5 miles, Difficulty: medium, Duration: 2 days): Highlights include thick araucaria and lenga forests, and Laguna las Avutardas. Along the trail at Renque, there is rustic camping and a refuge. PN Huerquehue has a warm temperate climate with less than four months of dry season. The rains last May-September. In total, the park receives up to 2,045 millimeters (81 inches) of rain per year. At altitude it is icy at any time of the year. During the winter, the park gets covered in snow. Check with Conaf in Temuco or Puc├│n about conditions within the park Entry into PN Huerquehue is, for Chileans, $5 adults, $2.50 seniors and $2 children; for foreigners the rates are $8 adults, and $4 seniors and and children. Two ranger stations guard PN Huerquehue.

On the shores of Lago Tinquilco is the main entrance of the park, with the administration office and a guadaparque (9 a.m.-11 p.m. In high season). From January to March the Centro de Informaci├│n Ambiental is open (8 a.m.-8 p.m.) and rangers lead nature chats and walks. Longer excursions can also be arranged ($30 for Chileans, $40 for foreigners). The area also has a picnic area and camping sites, with a ranger's station, an information booth and a first aid station open all year.

At Renque is another guardaparque, with camping and a refuge for those who are doing longer treks. Campgrounds are closed in winter (May-September). From January to February the cost is $20 for Chileans and $30 for foreigners. In the other months, Chileans are charged $14 and foreigners $20. Outside the park is Hotel y Caba├▒as Parque Huerquehue, on the shores of Lago Tinquilco. It also provides horseback riding, fly fishing, trekking and tour services (Tel.: 045-44-1480 / 09-3776-9820, URL:; two persons $56). In the same area is Camping Olga (045-44-1938, E-mail:, URL:; two persons and tent $16).

Getting to and away from Parque Nacional Huerquehue

Parque Nacional Huerquehue is 135 kilometers (81 miles) from Temuco, by way of Villarrica and Puc├│n, to Ruta 119. The roads are all-weather. The main park entrance is 35 kilometers (21 miles) east of Puc├│n.

Easily reached from Puc├│n, PN Huerquehue makes for a good day trip from that town. From in front of the Pullman Bus station in Puc├│n leave busses of other, local companies for PN Huerquehue (8:30 a.m., 4 p.m.; return 2 p.m., 5 p.m., $3.20). Also you can catch the blue and white buseta from the side of the Pullman office, departing at 9:15 a.m. For Paillaico. This will leave you four kilometers (2.4 miles) from the park.

Curarrehue , Chile

National Park

17 Nov 2010

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