Monday, 11 January 2010

Sunday 10th January

A late full German breakfast (yum, yum) was followed by more complaints about the Chilean's inability to sign roads in a sensible fashion, and eventually by arrival at the next national park: Laguna del Laja. The area is dominated by the symmetrical cone of an active-ish volcano which, in the fairly recent past, has dammed a nearby river with a lava flow to create the Laguna.

After pitching the tent we head out for our first walk of the day, a climb of about 1000m to a lava plain consisting of razor sharp shards of volcanic material as far as the eye can see. Somewhat reminiscent of Iceland. Makes a very strange noise underfoot, like walking on broken glass. Beyond the lava field there is another mountain peak, this one with a glacier hanging precariously over the edge. There is an enormous horseshoe-shaped bowl well over 1000m high beneath the glacier which is ringed with waterfalls. At the foot of the bowl is a sandy flood plain criss-crossed by numerous streams. The deposits from the streams are a weird primose yellow colour, gradually settling out as the streams flow. It's a tortuous path trying to keep ones feet dry - particularly after your boots have been cut to shreds by the lava...

About four hours later (Chileans do not appear to do long distance walking) we are back at the Little Red Truck and head further up the valley to find a second path down to the Laguna. The Laguna itself is rather disappointing. Big yes, but definitely not picturesque. Rather too much of that broken lava.

We've hit the jackpot with the campsite - it's got a "restaurant" on site. Not going to be cordon bleu, but it's better than bread and biscuits, or walking another 20km to find something to eat.

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