Category Archives: HIKING ADDICT

Exploring Lake Llanquihue in South of Chile – Hiking in Alerce Andino National Park

After returning from the mystical and beautiful Chiloe island, we continued to explore the area of the second largest lake in Chile – Lake Llanquihue on the mainland. At the shores of this lake, you will find small and beautiful cities of Puerto Varas, Frutillar Bajo, Puerto Octay and Puerto Clocker and above them a snow-topped peak of Osorno volcano.

We only planned 2 days in this area, so our initial plan was to visit Petrohue Waterfalls, hike in Pérez Rosales National Park and explore the cities around the lake.

The next morning after a good rest we put on our hiking boots, packed our backpacks and hit the road. One thing I heard about Patagonia proved to be true – the weather here is unpredictable and 3 seasons can change daily. In one moment you are driving in a fog and rain and in the next moment the sun is shining and the horizon is clear.

2h later and we were in National Park driving towards the Waterfalls. The beauty and colours of this park are surreal, green forests and fields with wildflowers, an Andean mountain range in distance and dark blue Todos Los Santos lake. You could hear the sounds of rushing water silenced by the strong winds. However, as it was the peak of the season the place was overcrowded and finding parking was a challenge.

The Petrohue waterfalls are formed by water rushing from the lake Todos Los Santos over the rocky formations. The site is protected by the government, and you need to pay a symbolic entrance fee. When we finally arrived we found a line of 100 people waiting so we decided to come back tomorrow earlier as we didn’t want to waste a beautiful sunny day. Instead, we decided to drive around the lake Llanquihue and explore the surrounding area. I was again left speechless and breathless admiring the wilderness, the Osorno volcano, and the endless fields full of wildflowers. There are no words to describe how beautiful is the Lake District and I think I never saw a more beautiful nature in my life.

Our next stop was Frutillar Bajo, scenic and beautiful little town overlooking Osorno volcano. Most of the houses here are built in German architecture style and frankly I think I took a photo of every single one of them. We parked in front of the German Colonial Museum which was the first on our list. As soon as we entered museum it felt like we are back in the 19th century when the first German immigrants started populating this area.

After the Museum, we took a stroll down the coastline and visited famous Teatro Del Lago (Musical Theater), and small picturesque dock. Frutillar is famous as a City of Music and offers concerts all year round, and Teatro del Lago is the largest acoustic theatre ever built in South America. After the stroll, we sat in a little shop where we enjoyed German “Strudel” and coffee. This little town is maybe one of the most beautiful towns I have ever seen, it looks like a fairy tale town.

Around 8:30 in the evening we went down to the beach to watch the sunset and take some photos. As the tide is low, the beach is stretching for miles, and I wasn’t able to distinguish skies from the ocean. After the sunset, the skies turned purple yellow, and I wanted to stay there forever.

The Purple Skies

Although we planned to get up at 6 am the next day and drive back to Petrohue Waterfalls the rain and wind woke us up in the middle of the night and disturbed our plans. As we slept bad, the next morning we ended up getting up after 10 am. It was already too late to go to Petrohue, so we decided to go hiking in close by Alerce Andino National Park which was half an hour away. As its name implies, the park preserves groves of the oldest South American alerce andino tree, El Gran Abuelo. As soon as we left from our little cabin it started raining again. The closer we were approaching the park, the rain was pouring stronger and stronger, but we didn’t want to turn back. Once we reached the entrance to the park, we saw more cars parked, and a group of older tourists with raincoats and hiking sticks. I was determined to hike, thinking if they can do it for sure we can do it as well, so we went inside the thick forest following the path towards El Gran Abuelo tree.

The Trail to Alerce Andino

As we walked through the forest, I remembered the song Misty Mountain Cold from Hobbit “Far over the misty mountains cold,
to dungeons deep and caverns old” and I felt so happy and grateful for this experience.

The rain was pouring like crazy, but we decided to finish what we started, so we kept going deeper and deeper into the park. We walked through the mud, rocks, wooden stairs and next to the puma’s cave until we reached a small waterfall and finally El Gran Abuelo.

On the way back our clothes were soaked in the water, and we were starving, but nothing could influence our good mood, and we laughed and joked. We were also surprised as we met so many people and nobody seemed bothered by the rain. However, as soon as we reached the car, I removed wet clothes and it was time to look for the food. That evening we spent again at the beach chasing sunsets and enjoying the fresh air and cold beer. The next day I was supposed to fly back to Santiago, and Dubai and the vacations were over.

Hasta luego Chile, nos vemos el proximo ano.

Advertisements

Exploring Patagonia – Mystical Island of Chiloe, Chile

As u huge nature lover and admirer I had Patagonia on my list for a long time (and still have it). This year finally I got a chance to visit Chile in summer and the first thing on my list was a road trip to the Lake District that is considered to be the beginning of the vast Patagonian area. Because of the time restrictions, we decided to explore the mystical island of Chiloe and the surrounding cities and areas of Lake Llanquihue on the mainland.

Our Patagonian Route for 6 days

The best way to get to the island of Chiloe is to take the short flight from Santiago to the city of Puerto Montt. From there you can rent a vehicle and drive directly to little port Pargua to catch up a 15-minute ferry to port Chacao on Chiloe. It is very easy to follow the way, just make sure you put the gas before as finding gas station can be tricky.

Probably you are thinking why Chiloe and where is this place? Because this magical island is a land of myths, unique folklore and architecture, blessed by beautiful wild nature. This island is still the world for itself and you won’t find many tourists there, mostly backpackers and campers. And that makes it even more special and unique.

As soon as we were out of the airport we were on the two-way empty road surrounded by lush green trees, endless fields of yellow flowers and in the rear mirror we could see the white peak of Osorno Volcano and a dark peak of Calbuco that had last erupted in 2015. This was the first time in my life to be so close to volcanoes.

Enjoying the breeze on a ferry

From Chacao port we drove all the way down to the city of Chonchi as we planned to visit the Dock of Souls (Muelle de las Almas) located in Chiloe National Park. We had a short stop in Castro, which is considered to be the capital city of Chiloe, to see the famous yellow church of San Francisco, over-water wooden palafitos and to try a traditional dish called Curanto. As I am not really into churches, I was more excited to see palafitos, however, without the tide they don’t look really attractive so I didn’t get a chance to take any photo.

Once we finished with the main square and the church, we quickly checked the restaurants on TripAdvisor and the closest one with good reviews was Nueva Galicia, located next to the little port where they serve Curanto. Curanto is a mix of gigantic mussels and clams, chorizo, chunks of meat, potatoes and chapalele (potato bread) served on hot stones with hot soup and tomato and pickled onion salad. Curanto is more a method of cooking seafood and meat than an actual dish and although we were waiting for it for quite some time, once the dish arrived we dived into it as we were starving.

Trying Curanto for the first time

As we were not sure where we will be each day we decided to look for an accommodation on the go and we booked a room while we were waiting for the food to come. After we filled our bellies, we continue to drive down to Chonchi where we finally arrived in the evening hours. It was a bit tricky to find the house and the part of the road was not paved, but once we finally got there we fell in love with it. The beautiful wooden house named Karukinka was located on the hill overlooking the lake surrounded by forest and horses. Inside it was even more beautiful, it was decorated with wooden objects, paintings, plants and books. Our hosts moved here 15 years ago from Santiago and they build everything together. We booked the loft which was also an atelier full of paintings, brushes and books.

The next morning we woke up early and we had a simple breakfast made from local ingredients with a windows overlooking the lake. During the conversation we had with Mauro, our host, he suggested us to visit some other places than the ones we were planning and we decided to follow his advice. So instead of going to Muelle de La Almas we decided to go hiking in the National Park of Chiloe to explore the impressive landscapes, beaches and wilderness of this magical island. The park was covered by thick mosses and shrub-heavy forest and we were following the steps of Charles Darwin who walked in the same park almost 200 years ago. Before the end of our walk we found ourselves at a huge beach full of flowers and while we were approaching the ocean I noticed a people dressed up in a white clothes and that made me wonder who are those people and what they are doing. The host told us that there was a full moon party in this area the night before. Beside the full moon party, this island is full of myths about mystical creatures, warlocks and witches so seeing people in the field dressed in white was a bit awkward. We decided to check closer what is happening so we walked towards them expecting to see some sacrifice or spiritual dance, buy unfortunately (or luckily?) it was just a karate club doing the training in the middle of nowhere. 🙂

After the morning hike, it was time to go back to the North, but this time we opted for a different road. Franco wanted to visit a little island Aucar in the city of Quemchi where he camped 20 years ago. To get to the island we had to walk across the long wooden bridge and there was a little wooden church (Isla de las Almas Navegantes) with the beautiful graveyard. Even though it was crowded this place looked really beautiful, so we made a plan to visit it again in the morning as it was already getting dark and we had to find a place to sleep over.

The third day was our last day at the island and maybe the most beautiful one. In the morning Franco came to an idea to visit Cave of Warlocks, but our expedition ended up in a fight. After unsuccessful search for the Cave, we decided to follow the instructions from our host and to visit another Dock of the Light instead of Dock of Souls. We drove to the place called Chepu where we embarked a boat that would take us down the river Chepu to the Dock of Light (Muelle de la Luz). We were left speechless while sailing on the dark blue river, surrounded by lush green hills and sunken forest created by the 1960 earthquake that sank the original forested land by two meters. The weather was good and the sun was shining so the whole experiences was even more majestic.

After a 20 minute boat ride we had to walk for 15-20 minutes to Muelle de la Luz dock. There are no words to describe the beautiful wild landscape, dark beaches, the power of the ocean, the wild flowers growing on the rocks or the color of Chepu river. You forget everything on this island, you just stand there admiring the wilderness, the wind, air and the water. And you ask yourself why the hell you live in a big polluted city when you can actually live here?! Your mind is in peace, your body is energized, your lungs are full of pure, fresh air and you feel happy and fulfilled. In one moment this landscape reminded me of Wuthering Heights book from Emily Bronte.

After we finished our little tour to this remote part of the island it was time to go to Penguin colony further North. Around 4 pm we have arrived to the little city of Punihuil where we bought tickets for the organized boat tour to see the penguins. The tour was starting at 5 pm and our little boat was full of very excited kids and we had a guide who was explaining the life of penguins and the system of colony. Although he was talking on Spanish I could still understand a bit and F. was translating the rest.

For a moment I felt like I was in Sir David Attenborough’s documentary exploring this wildlife sanctuary of the animals in the furthest parts of our beautiful planet Earth. It felt like a dream to be here and to experience the beauty of wilderness and natural world. We saw marine wildlife, including 2 species of penguins that come to nest every summer: Magellanic and Humboldt Penguins, sea lions, pelicans, gaviotas, etc. The sun was shining, the kids were laughing, the sea had this beautiful darkest blue colour and the skies were clear. I think penguins and Dock of Light were the highlights of Chiloe road trip. This day was just perfect, however as it was already 6 pm and we still had to catch the ferry and drive back to the mainland.

And what about mystical creatures and legends that are part of this island? Let me tell you about the ones I liked the most.

First is El Trauco – a short, ugly male creature, without feet, that arouses sexual desire in women, but is aggressive towards men. He only attacks women when they are alone in the forest and he puts a spell on them and makes them pregnant. This legend was also used in many cases to justify unexplained pregnancies (when nobody steps out as a father) of the young girls of the island.

El Trauco (photo taken from the internet)

The next one is the story about El Caleuche – a phantom ship that sails around the island at night. It shows up as a bright beautiful ship with the sounds of party and it is crewed by the drowned who are brought to the ship by mermaids. They also says that warlocks are making parties on this ship and the evil mermaids are bringing the bodies of sailors.

El Caleuche

And the third one is the legend of El Imbunche – a first-born son less than nine days old that was kidnapped by, or sold by his parents to, a Brujo (sorcer) who transformed the child by breaking his right leg and twisting it over his back. When the boy was three months old his tongue is forked and magic cream was applied over the boy’s back to cause thick hairs. During its first months the Invunche was fed on black cat’s milk and goat flesh, and then with human flesh from cemeteries. Although, this stories sound scary, they are still just part of mythology and legends.

THE AVERAGE COST OF CAR, FOOD, ACCOMMODATION AND SIGHTSEEING:

  • National Park of Chiloe – Entrance fee for locals is 2,500 pesos (around 3 $) and for foreigners 5,000 pesos (around 6$)
  • Muelle de la Luz (Dock of Light) – boat ticket is 7,500 pesos per person (9 $)
  • Penguin Colony – boat tour 7,000 pesos per person (8 $)
  • Rent a car – 30,000 pesos per day (36 $)
  • Accommodation – starting from 30$ per night
  • Food in the restaurant – starting from 8$
  • The ferry in one way – 13,500 pesos (around 16$)

In the next blog post we go to Lake District on the mainland.

Sutjeska National Park – Bosnia and Hercegovina

Some call me Nature, others call me Mother Nature, I’ve been here for over four and a half billion years. Twenty-two thousand five hundred times longer than you. I don’t really need people, but people need me. Yes, your future depends on me. When I thrive, you thrive. When I falter, you falter or worse (?) But, I’ve been here for eons, I have fed species greater than you, and I have starved species grater than you. My ocean, my soil, my flowing streams, my forests, They all can take you or leave you. How you choose to live each day, whether you regard or disregard me, doesn’t really matter to me. One way or other your actions will determine your fate not mine. I am Nature, I will go on, I am prepared to evolve, Are you?

Julia Robertson as the Voice of the Nature

My homeland Bosnia and Herzegovina has amazingly beautiful wild nature, however it also has citizens who don’t appreciate it and dream about visiting some other far away destinations. Before, I was one of those people as well. Today, each year I am looking forward to those few days I will spend with my family exploring the beautiful mountains, forests and lakes that my little country has to offer.

Volujak mountain

Two years ago I have found my new favorite spot – Sutjeska National Park. This park was established in 1962 and is a perfect place for people who love wilderness and untamed natural beauty. The park is located between beautiful mountains Zelengora, Maglic (the highest peak in BiH), Volujak, Leli and Vucevo which form together Dinaric Alps.

Here you will also find river Tara and Piva, lakes Trnovacko, Orlovacko, and many other mountain lakes with endless views of lush green forests. The park is getting more and more popular each year especially in summer when it is hosting a music and entertainment festival famous by the name OK fest.

Sutjeska Monument

In June 2017 I did rafting with my family on the Tara river in camp Highlander. River Tara is called a European jewel because of its turquoise-blue color, the deepest canyon in the Europe, and adrenaline rafting that it offers. Tara together with river Piva forms river Drina, one of the most important rivers in Bosnia.

Unfortunately, the weather was not welcoming as we have hoped and it was raining most of the time. And when it rains in Bosnia it only means one thing – you will be freezing soon. What was supposed to be the nice sunny weekend it turned out to be cold, muddy and freezing, hence we decided to do what we could so we sat around the campfire and ate enormous amounts of Bosnian dishes prepared in special Bosnian style called “ispod saca“.  Although, it was raining our rafting trip was packed with funny and enjoyable moments as we were surrounded by beautiful nature and we had a very nice guide and a very young group.

In the summer of 2018, we went to the hotel “Mladost” for 2 days and we chose to do hiking to heart-shaped turquoise lake Trnovacko. There are no words to describe the beauty of the views over the lake and the mountains.

We left our hotel around 8 in the morning and by 9 o ‘clock we were at our starting point – Prijevoj. Our initial plan was to go to Trnovacko lake but in the meantime, we have decided first to hike the Maglic summit then to go down to the Trnovacko lake from the other side of mountain.

Sometimes when you find yourself in the middle of the vast mountainous area you realize how small and insignificant you are. I always remember my favorite quote from John Muir: “Walk away quietly in any direction and taste the freedom of the mountaineer. Camp out among the grasses and gentians of glacial meadows, in craggy garden nooks full of nature’s darlings. Climb the mountains and get their good tidings, Nature’s peace will flow into you as sunshine flows into trees. The winds will blow their own freshness into you and the storms their energy, while cares will drop off like autumn leaves. As age comes on, one source of enjoyment after another is closed, but nature’s sources never fail.

That day I still remember, all around us endless peaks of mountains, green forests, untouched wild nature, beautiful green heart-shaped lake, the feeling of peace, and a deep connection with Mother Nature. We spent the whole day outside, walking for more then 10 h, our faces and noses were red, our feet sore, but our hearts were full. And that is the reason why I love hiking and exploring so much, I love being in nature, far away from madding crowds, from city noise and pollution.

Trnovacko Lake

It is about time to reclaim the culture of conscious mountaineering, the culture of living in harmony with nature, and the culture of health and fulfillment. Mountaineering is not only walking and sweating in rough terrain. It is a healthy way of life, thinking, going back to our roots, a time for self-reflection, and meditation. There is no hurry in hiking, you notice each cloud, each insect, each sound. You hear the birdsong, the roaring of the wind, and the sounds of water springs.

If you are inspired by nature please check the series “Nature is speaking” on YouTube.

Prijevoj – Starting Point
Sutjeska National Park
Sutjeska Monument