South America Day 27 - Lanin National Park

Published: February 4th 2019
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I planned to visit Chachin waterfall in Lanin National Park today. It’s only 27 miles away but 25 are off road. The old man is unenthusiastic but we set off anyway. It’s supposed to take 80 minutes but our little car struggles so much that we take twice as long. Mo Farah could have run it faster.

The old man picks up some hitchhikers en route. They don’t speak English and we quickly exhaust my Spanish so we pootle along, very slowly, in silence.

At the end is the Chilean border crossing and a ranger station. They tell us the trail to the waterfall is closed due to fallen trees, but suggest we head there anyway, in case it reopens.

So we drive even more off road, over a bridge that reminds me of a Top Gear challenge. Sure enough, just as we reach the car park, a quad bike comes the other way trailing red and white ‘no entry’ tape.

We walk the final mile to the waterfall. It’s nice, but probably not worth the effort it took to reach it. There’s a little kiosk at the entrance. I ask if he has cold drinks and he goes and fishes a couple of bottles of Fanta out of the lake.

Next, another 2 hour bumpy, dusty drive back to town, this time with Chilean hitchhikers, who give us plenty of tips for our trip to Santiago.

We finally reach San Martín and manage to find a restaurant which opens on Mondays. We order huge tarts which come with a choice of 3 salad ingredients. It takes me ages to decide between tomato and onion – the old man gets very stressed.

In the evening, a last walk by the lake with the obligatory stop for souvenirs. San Martín is awash with souvenir shops but they sell less conventional items. If you want a hunting knife, the choices are endless. Post cards, less so. We stop at the supermarket to buy cold drinks. There are fridges full of drinks, but an employee is replacing any item removed, so nothing is actually cold. Another extensive mining operation is called for. I return to the guesthouse clutching my hard won cold beer and pack ready to move on in the morning.

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