After travelling for weeks through relatively rural Chile we found ourselves in Santiago for a few nights. It was quite a culture shock to be in the capital city. We took full advantage of big city delights - cheap internet, going to the cinema and riding the subway! Soon though we were back in another national park (we just can´t get enough of these places) - La Campana, between Santiago and Valparaiso. We were at the park to climb Cerro La Campana (1,980 m), famous as having been climbed by Charles Darwin when he visited in 1834. On our first day at the park the weather seemed to be against us and so we decided to do a different trek hoping for better weather the next day. This was a pleasant hike up through forest and the open ground, and when the sky cleared we got some lovely views of the surrouding peaks.
On the second day we woke to a perfect blue sky and decided to make for Cerro La Campana (aka Darwin´s Peak). The total height gain was immense for a one day trek - from a starting altitude of less than 400m to the summit at just
under 2,000 metres. The total distance covered was 14km and my legs were like jelly by the end of the day! But, despite the effort it was well worth it to make the top of this amazing peak, with stunning views for miles around - although we couldn´t see both the Pacific and the Andes as apparently Darwin had been able to on his visit. The last part of the hike is particularly difficult as it involves a lot of scrambling over rough rocks and boulders. But we enjoy this kind of thing so it was all good fun!
Highly recommended as the guide books like to say.
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