Hola! My name is Claudia and in this article I will be sharing my experiences and recommendations for the one and only Conguillio National Park in the Araucania Region of Chile. I’m originally from Santiago and since I was a little girl I have dreamt of traveling the world. When I was 25 I had a good job as a secretary, but then I decided to quit and pursue my dreams.
I didn’t have much savings, so I planned a low budget trip around Asia. After a year, I went to work in Australia. I continued traveling for a year through Oceania, Latin America and Asia before returning back to Australia to make more money. After four years on the road, I thought it would be nice to write a book and 1,000 copies were sold in just a few short months.
Now this adventure book is available as an ebook on Amazon. I’m currently working on the English version (coming soon)! You can find it under the title “EN RUTA – El despertar de un alma viajera” (EN ROUTE – The awakening of a traveling soul), Spanish Edition, by Claudia Iglesias.
Conguillio National Park with Chile Extreme
Chile is a beautiful country, however it’s pricey for backpackers. Thanks to Instagram, I often receive invitations to do different activities and one of them was for Conguillio National Park. I got a message from a sightseeing tour agency called Chile Extreme – they are aligned with my beliefs of not running overpriced tourism. So, of course, I accepted the invite.
It was a weekend trip from Santiago and it involved taking a 10 hour drive each way, spending both nights in a comfortable bus. There were about 35 tourists in total along with two guides and two drivers. The tour price was very reasonable at 55,000 Chilean pesos ($55-60 USD), plus we had to pay for the entrance ticket to the park. You have to get your tickets in advance at: aspticket.cl. The cost is 5,000 pesos for locals and 12,800 for foreigners.
Nearby Towns and Accommodation Options
I enjoyed this weekend tour so much that I decided to stay for a week. There are plenty of accommodation options as it’s a touristy area. The park has two entrances and so you have two choices for where to base yourself: either from Curacautin in the north (4WD access) or from Melipeuco in the south (2WD access). No public transport is available from these two towns. You will need to take a tour, rent a car or hitchhike to get there.
Many agencies offer car hire or tours and most pick Melipeuco as their base as the entrance from this side is more vehicle-friendly. Here you will find campgrounds, guest houses and cottages. There are no big hotel chains, which is fantastic. If you visit during the high season (mid-November to mid-May), you can camp inside the park in certain designated areas or you can rent a private cottage year-round at: sendasconguillio.cl.
Best Places to Visit in Conguillio National Park
Conguillio is considered one of the most beautiful parks in the country. But after having visited many other natural wonders around Chile, I can safely say that you can find other destinations just as spectacular as this one like Nahuelbuta National Park. By no means does this take anything away from Conguillio – it simply shows you how incredible Chile is as a whole.
While visiting the park, you can see how the land got transformed due to volcanic eruptions and admire all the surrounding volcanoes. Also, you will be immersed in Araucaria Trees – native to the area. By staying silent enough and with a bit of good luck, you might even have the chance to see woodpeckers searching for food in the trees. That is a sight to behold.
On my day trip with Chile Extreme I walked 20 kilometers (12.4 miles) in 10 hours, as we had to get back to the bus by foot. If you have your own vehicle you would only need to do half that distance. We visited the following spots in Conguillio National Park and they were amazing:
- Sendero Truful Truful: Right before the southern access point there is an easy circuit of about 1.2 kilometers (0.7 miles). It takes roughly 30 minutes and goes past the Truful Truful river and Truful Truful waterfall.
- Laguna Verde: Green lagoon is reached on a 1 kilometer (0.6 mile) walk.
- Laguna Arcoiris: The stunning Rainbow Lagoon is a short 700 meter (0.4 mile) walk through volcanic stones and it’s incredibly picturesque.
- Playa Linda: This is a beautiful beach located by Conguillio’s lagoon and you can get here from the parking lot on a 300 meter (0.2 mile) stroll.
- Mirador de Condores: Condor’s Viewpoint is a moderate 2.5 kilometer (1.5 mile) hike which takes approximately an hour and a half to finish.
- Mirador Sierra Nevada: If you keep following the previous track for 3.5 kilometers (2.1 miles) you will reach the most iconic spot in the park. Set aside at least five hours to go there and back. We didn’t make it to this lookout but I still managed to get epic views from the previous places.
If you have more than one day, you can also hike Sendero Los Carpinteros (Woodpeckers Trail). It’s a 6 kilometer (3.7 mile) distance between Lago Conguillio and Laguna Captren, passing through Araucaria Madre which is a giant tree up to 1,800 years old. All in all, this trail is easy/moderate to walk.
Each attraction at Conguillio National Park has its own magic. You may prefer to go kayaking on Conguillio’s lagoon or do a long hike to enjoy the views. Perhaps, you like the idea of a winter trip and resting in a warm cottage while the snow covers everything in white. Most find summer to be the best, when you can go camping and listen to the birds sing.
Need to Know Before you Go
I visited Conguillio National Park during autumn (May) and the temperature was between 0-15°C (32-60°F). April and May are arguably the best months to visit the park because the weather conditions are still good and you can enjoy the magic of colorful leaves emerging from the trees.
Like all places in nature you must be respectful. Whatever you take with you, it has to go back out. Being a park of national significance, you can’t remove plants/flowers or walk down non-authorized paths. Apart from that, just keep in mind that you need to buy tickets in advance as it’s a popular place with limited capacity and be aware that there are no toilets (nor shops to buy food). Enjoy your time at Conguillio National Park!