GPT04 - Alto Huemul
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Section Log, Alerts and Suggestions
- 2021 Nov-28-30, SOBO, RR, Kris&Stiina
We started from Agua Buena around noon and tried to follow Franks suggestion, but after a few hundred meters where the road turns left we encountered a gate with four angry dogs behind it, otherwise the gate would be climbable.
We turned back and from the main road entered an open gate to a cherry farm in hopes to find a different route to meet the RR. There we met a nice old lady Victoria, very talkative she invited us in for a cold drink and said that through her farm it’s unfortunately impossible to pass through because of the bushes and fences, but she called her friend Pedro Jose who owns a land behind the cherry farm that we couldn’t pass earlier.
We went to meet Pedro at his house and he turned out to be a really nice guy, very friendly and spoke good English because he had lived in Finland for 10 years. He also invited us in and we discussed the route among other things. He then guided us on a ninja-path, through the back bush of his and his neighbors land. He said that that guy probably wouldn’t open the gate for us, who knows. After climbing over and under two barbed wire fences we were on the route.
Jose Pedro told us about a better faster route to get to Las Peñas but we opted for following the RR which was a big mistake. The first few km were fine but then it turned into a proper bush-whacky thorny adventure. Imagine one of those military training practices where people crawling in a dirt under a barbed wire, that’s how it felt at times. It was not fun and we wouldn’t recommend it to anyone. Pedro’s recommendation was to go through the cherry/fruit farms to reach the road that is on the northern bank of Río Tinguiririca and follow that to the bridge over the river.
Pedro allowed us to share his phone number (+56 961 357 353) in case other hikers might need help getting around the fences. Write him a phone message or on WhatsApp (don’t call), mention that you are hiking the GPT, when you are in Agua Buena. He doesn’t have a car and cannot give any rides. But he offered to host hikers at his property, you can put up your tent, have a hot shower, use kitchen and charge your electronics, all for 10.000 pesos.
Sign before the bridge said private property - entrance forbidden. We went anyway and didn’t meet anyone who would turn us back. There is a small shop and a bus stop at the turn where you get on to the dirt road about 5km from Las Peñas. We didn’t want to walk in a sandstorm - because of the amount of dust generated by the passing cars - and decided to hitch that part right away which was an easy hitch. In Las Peñas there are about 5 campsites and a small shop, but they are not as good as in Agua Buena. We were lucky to arrive there on Sunday and not a day or two earlier when all the campsites are filled with party people, everyone was leaving as we arrived.
We stayed in Don Bosco campsite for 8000 pesos for two, which is a very cozy Christian campsite, with pool. We think it’s a good option in case of weekend arrival as it might be more peaceful there. By the time we arrived people were already leaving and we were the only people on the whole campsite.
At the shop(minimarket) in town there is a pizza menu poster and you can order a delicious pizza to Las Peñas which we did.
After leaving Las Peñas there is a gate in about three kilometers whch we think charges people who go to see the little laguna with waterfall a bit further up the road. When we got there the gate was closed because of the road-widening excavation works. But after explaining ourselves to a nice lady that was in charge there she let us through and didn’t ask for any fees.
The climb over the pass to the lakes was very long but plenty of shade and water on the route.
We stayed at the first lake - Laguna Fria/Guzman, very beautiful but a bit windy, some firewood can be found hidden behind the boulders close to the campsite at the end of the lake, but it was too windy for fire. We also think this was the better of the two lakes to camp at the other one was very wet all around. There was also an unmarked small lake/pond on the way to he second lake, looked more sheltered in case of really bad weather.
The downhill from the second lake was brutal, very steep and no actual trail, once the steepness eased off and trail appeared it was overgrown. Luckily our complaints were heard and a few km later we met an arriero who was doing a trail-maintenance and cutting all the bushes around the trail, after that it was pretty good. But don’t think it’s an easy walk out of the valley all downhill, it’s a roller coaster with fords until you get sick of it. Last 6km are very walkable though.
Section took us two and a half days.
Nevertheless, we missed the last bus to Curico and stayed at the Los Pinos campground in Los Queñes. 6000 per person, cold shower included, the guy working there was very nice and helpful. Town has a few shops, with limited resupply options, town also has a problem with stray dogs.
There are 5 buses a day to and from Curico first is at 7:30, last is at 18:00 cost is 1700 pesos pp. it’s about 45min drive.
It’s time to have a rest day before heading out to section 5 and 6.
For more stories of the trail, pictures, videos and in case you want to ask us anything you can find us on Instagram: @smallfootprint_bigadventures
- 10 January 2020 Frank RR Southbound, 2.5 days
I thought it would be an easy hike from Agua Buena to Las Penas. It isn't. At Agua Buena 500M from start is a fruit farm with no entry sign. No one @ the gate & it was unlocked so I went in. Met the owner & he wasn't too happy to see me but after a discussion I was allowed through. If you go 500M beyond the start in Agua Buena on main road there is a dirt road which branches right just as the main road goes left. The dirt road should come in to join RR just where you exit the fruit farm, allowing you to avoid going through the farm. You soon leave the dirt road & go down on small trails into thorn scrub. The scrub is thick & if you don't get the navigation exactly right you won't get through. After about 6KM RR goes through another fruit farm. I got in @ low point in fence but had to crawl under fence to get out. It would be easier to stay outside the fence (handrail it) & rejoin RR after the farm.
You cross Bridge 5 into another fruit farm, no entry sign on bridge. As you leave the farm there is a house, they might not let you in here if you are Northbound. Just after you get to the road there is a shop. 3 campsites (paid camping) & 3 shops in Las Penas, last one does small meals. About 2K later you pay 3000 CLP entry fee @ a gate. Camped @ Water 25. There is one place with water beyond that but nowhere else to camp until the lakes. Lakes are nice but no shade & no wood. I would suggest road walking the first section to Las Penas or get the bus (see updated transport section)
- Start Date: December 20, 2019
- Section: GPT 04 Southbound
- Duration: 3 Days
- Name/Alias: Ian Hikes
- Overview: If hiking southbound this is the first section where it really starts to get green and the pine trees start to appear more frequently. The first section is dominated by dirt roads with paying campsites, cabins, puestos and other developments. Later you go over a large mountain pass with sweeping views in all direction completely above the tree line. Finally, you follow the valley into Los Quenes which in a nice little town to resupply in. The town has a small supermarket with many food options along with a few restaurants. These include pizza, sandwiches and empanadas. The plaza in the center of town also has free access to WIFI which I used while I was there.
- Difficulties: Exposed mountain pass. Route finding
- Highlights: Sweeping views. High mountain passes and lakes.
- Please feel free to reach out and ask me any questions at Ultratrailca@gmail.com
- 2019-Nov-30 / Martina & Ivo / Regular route southbound
4 days, low water levels, no snow, trails in excellent condition. ...and food and accommodation in Los Queñes :-)
- 2019-Dec-09 / Matus & Anna / Regular route
We started in Las Peñas (we took Uber there from San Fernando). It took us 2 days. Trail is in good condition. Some parts on the descend are slightly overgrown, but still easy to follow. There is enough water on both sides. Accomodation, food and tiendas in Los Quenes.
|GPT04: Alto Huemul||Hiking||Packrafting|
|Group||A: Precordillera||Total||60.9 km||21 h||-||-|
|Region||Chile: O'Higgins (VI) & Maule (VII)||Trails (TL)||31.0 km||50.9%||-||-|
|Start||Aguas Buenas||Minor Roads (MR)||26.5 km||43.5%||-||-|
|Finish||Los Queñes||Primary Roads (PR)||-||-||-||-|
|Status||Published & Verified||Cross-Country (CC)||3.4 km||5.6%||-||-|
|Traversable||Nov - Mar (Maybe: Oct, Apr, May)||Bush-Bashing (BB)||-||-||-||-|
|Packraft||Only Burden||Ferry (FY)||-||-||-||-|
|Connects to||GPT03, GPT05||Investigation (I)||-||-||-||-|
|Options||98 km (2 Options & Variants)||Exploration (EXP)||-||-||-||-|
|Hiking||Packrafting||Total on Water||-||-|
|Attraction||2 (of 5)||-||River (RI)||-||-|
|Difficulty||3 (of 5)||-||Lake (LK)||-||-|
|Direction||Both ↓↑||-||Fjord (FJ)||-||-|
|Character||Semi-Desert, Forest, Alpine Terrain, Mountain Pastures, Farmland, Arrieros|
|Challenges||Exposure to Elements, Clambering|
Satellite Image Map
Section Planning Status
Recommended Travel Period
Benefits of Hiking and Packrafting
Recommended Travel Direction
Section Length and Travel Duration
Suitable Section Combinations
Services: ATM and Money Exchange
Accommodation: Hostals and Hotels
Transport: Ground Transport
Transport: Shipping Services
Resupply on the Trail
Location, Names, Available Items and Services
Access to Route and Return
Access to Start
Bus every half hour in daytime from San Fernando to Agua Buena. 5 buses a day from San Fernando to Las Penas, first one leaves San Fernando @ 11:30.
Return from Finish
Attached bus timetable obtained in January 2020 File:Quenes.jpg