GPT 3: Volcán Chillan
- Duration: 7 to 10 days
- Distance: 129 km
- Ascent: 6420 meters ↑
- Descent: 5820 meters ↓
The third section of the Greater Patagonian Trail leads you first through the forest and patches along the rivers Río Los Sauces, Río Roble and Río Ñuble. Occasional farm houses show you till what point settlers have advanced but some abandoned buildings remind you that these settlers are retreating again. Making a living all year around in such a place is a challenge, that becomes invisible when passing on a charming summer day.
Eventually you will reach a first pass that opens your view to the volcano Chillan who has a notorious poor sleep. Lava streams and ash become your trail again. After having crossed the slope of the volcano you decent in the “Valle Termal” where you can taste the heat that constantly leaks out. Dive in the hot stream and relax in steaming water while watching the stars during a freezing night. The trail continues though untouched forest, goes up and down, crosses streams and get you once more to hot springs, but this time nicely enclosed and with a well build refuge next to it: the hot springs “Los Peucos”.
The final highlight of this trail section is the Laguna de Las Lajas that like the Laguna Dial was created by a volcano. The Laguna de Las Lajas is just one or two sizes bigger and was formed when the perfect cone shaped volcano Antuco had a series of powerful erruptions and plugged the drain of the valley. It is not possible to hike on the shore of the lake all the way to the section finish because steep rocky terrain blocks the path. So you need to climb the ridge on the western side of the lake. Depending on the weather and your explorers mood you can continue on the ridge to the trail section end, or take the “bad weather escape route” down into the valley Polcura on the other side of the ridge.
Here you can see plenty of images of section 3 of the Greater Patagonian Trail that are uplodaded to Panoramio and Google Earth.
The isolation and the high passes make this a rather difficult but rewarding trail. Good orientational skill are required because hardly any signposts are placed and some parts of the trail are cross country.
Permits and Entrance Fees
Inhabitation and Tourism
The electronic map Topo Chile Deluxe from Garmin shows the contours precisely but some lakes and smaller river are incorrect displayed. Only few trail sections are integrated. Some of the “Alleys” of this electronic map are far off the true position or inexistent. You should use the Greater Patagonian Trail data files for navigation.
Access to Start
Return from Finish
|Stage||Days||Stage End Point||Stage End Waypoint||Distance||Ascent ↑||Descent ↓||Time|
|A||1||(Start to) El Boslon||Refuge (GPT01-WP011)||20 km||1180 m||140 m||06:10|
|B||1||Laguna Mondaca||Camp (GPT01-WP016)||16 km||1000 m||1210 m||05:20|
Stage A: Start to El Bolson
If you leave in the morning in Radal you can reach in one day the camp and refuge El Bolson. Parque Ingles is a good place for a lunch break.
Stage B: El Boslon to Laguna Mondaca
From El Bolson you get in one day to the Laguna Mondaca. If you partition this stage differently be aware that there are no inviting camp sites between the Laguna las Ánimas and the Laguna Mondaca. This stage should not be attempted in bad weather.
|Waypoint Name and Waypoint Code||Comment|
|Start (GPT01-WP001)||Start in Radal at final bus stop. Only in January and February some busses continue to Parque Ingles.|
|Shop (GPT01-WP002)||Small shop with basic supplies in Radal. Good to get a beer and some extra goodies for the night but not to supply you for the trip.|
|GPT01-TR001-2||Take the public gravel road from Radal to Parque Ingles. Only few vehicles use this road but traffic increases in January and February.|
|GPT01-TR002-1|| The track starts left at the entrance of Parque Ingles. The national park trail from Radal to El Bolson is well main-tained and clearly visible with some signposts and marks. After El Bolson the trail occasionally splits and peters out so try to follow the GPS trek when in doubt until reaching the 2560 m high pass. At the pass do not descent the well visible trail that keeps right but follow the GPS trek that descents directly towards the Laguna Mondaca. During the descent the trail is partially only vaguely visible.
Option 2: If you took the short way to the Route 115 and you still want to complete the entire trail than you need to walk 9 km on the paved Route 115. Not recommended!
|Northern||Section 2: Laguna Dial|
|Southern||Section 4: Volcán Antuco|