May 2023 – Chile
In between our city street parking we did a bit of roaming around. The last post was about wine and salt. This time we went to the mountains for some refreshingly cold nights and a soak in some hot springs. The photo above shows a glimpse of typical highway driving near Santiago, Chile.
We paused for fun photos at an old, abandoned train tunnel. The archways shed a beautiful pattern of light and shadow as they disappeared into the darkness. The dogs enjoyed the stretch break, but were not very willing to pose for photos.
Driving up in elevation towards the mountains revealed interesting rocks and geography for us to enjoy. Climbing from the city of Santiago at 1,800 feet elevation to the foothills of the Andes we could feel the temperature change. The hot springs destination was at about 7,000 feet elevation. The leaves were changing on the trees, as March was the early fall season in the Southern Hemisphere.
Finally we turned off of the paved highway and began driving on a dirt road. This road was winding along a rocky river bed between two steep mountains. Ahead of us were more mountains. These are just the edge of the Andes, but some of the higher peaks cam into view, with a dusting of snow on top!
When we arrived at Cajon Grande Termales (Grand Canyon Hot Springs) there were very few visitors. We selected a campsite on the upper road, very near the pools themselves. It was a Friday afternoon and there was space in every pool to soak and relax. We enjoyed several different temperatures and rested our heads on the rocky edges as we stared up at the jagged peaks all around us. We both slept quite well that night, after a good soak at a chilly elevation.
The next morning we had planned to soak again and take a few photos to share with you. But when we awoke, we were surprised to see that the entire place had filled up overnight. Apparently it is common to drive out of the city after work on a Friday, to get here for a weekend of soaking in hot springs and camping in the mountains. So we took some photos anyway! If you look closely you can see our camper, surrounded by other vehicles. Here are some views of a Chilean camping area in the Andean foothills. And one photo of a very full hot springs tub!
Instead of jumping into the human soup, we decided to take the dogs for a hike. Turning the other direction than where we drove in, we picked up a trail. The trail passed over guanaco paths, through an old sheep camp and continued on up the peak of the highest mountain, far in the distance. We stopped when we got to a natural spring. The dogs enjoyed the cold, refreshing water and the mud on their paws. We opted to sit and take in the beauty around us. Each direction we turned, there were incredible views.
We returned to the truck and decided to leave our now crowded campsite. On the way into the canyon we had noticed a nice, flat spot along the rocky river, we we went there. We spent a peaceful night listening to the bubbling river outside, instead of the party at the hot springs. In the morning the sun played tricks on the peaks as it rose up into the canyon. The show was incredible.
It was time to drive back towards Santiago. Back down that dusty road through the canyon. Continuing down the narrow highway. Time allowed us to pause for a night of sleep on the shore of the same river, at a much lower elevation. Then into the bustling city to wrap things up in Santiago, Chile.