Although worship of the ancient "apus" (sacred mountains) is still practiced, the rituals are quite different from the ones in the past. Now, the aim is to reach the summit, with or without offerings, but respectfully, as if going up to heaven along an irregular, ascending path.
Mountaineering lovers should not neglect the Chilean desert, since the Atacama salt mines are surrounded by snow-capped peaks. These peaks, from which climbers get a breathtaking view, make up the volcanic mountain range that forms the national border between Chile and Bolivia.
Some of the favorite peaks are:
- Licancabur Volcano (5,916 meters above sea level)
located 30 km east from San Pedro de Atacama. It boasts a beautiful
lake and Inca remains in its crater. It is not a difficult climb,
however, good physical condition is required. The best season to
climb it is from August to December.
- Lascar Volcano (5,154 meters above sea level)
near Toconao, a town located 38 km from San Pedro de Atacama. It
is an active volcano with a 750 meter diameter and 300 meter deep
crater. Another attraction is Mejia Lagoon, which is easily reached.
- Sairecabur Volcano (5,971 meters above sea level)
It is easily reached. Tourist agencies in San Pedro de Atacama offer
a tour including transport up to the foot of the volcano, breakfast
- Mt Toco (5,600 meters above sea level)
Licancabur Volcano. From the summit there is a magnificent view
of the mountains and volcanoes in the Andes as well as of Laguna
Verde in Bolivia.
: before taking any of the above-mentioned
adventure tours, it is highly recommended to take some time to adjust
to the weather conditions, which can be quite unfavorable.
It is one of the most popular activities in Pucon, being its main route the ascension to the top of the Villarrica Volcano (at 2840 metres of altitude).
The adventure begins at the refuge of the ski resort and continues along the tower of the chairlifts; the summit of this snowed giant is crowned through the western sector.
Experienced mountaineers climb it in 2 or 3 hours, while beginners complete it in 5 hours approximately. No matter how long it takes you to get to the summit, arriving is gratifying; the reward to your effort will be a magnificent view of the lagoons and volcanoes.
The crater of the Villarrica is 100 metres deep and it is advisable not to get too close to the mouth of the volcano in order to fully enjoy your adventure, since there is a stench of sulphur wrapped in the miasma of the smokestacks emanating from it.
And although climbing the Villarrica is not that hard, it is necessary to be over 12 years of age, in good physical conditions and to have the authorisation of Chile's National Forest Corporation (Conaf) in order to do so. You will need to be accompanied by a professional guide if you are not an accredited mountaineer.
SANTIAGO DE CHILE
Tough, complex and risky. An adventure
heavy doses of courage one needs skill, know-how and stamina - because
, conquering the summit is also
crowning the sportsman's efforts.
Over its 4,200 kilometers of Cordillera, Chile
presents monumental massifs that, in some cases exceed 6,800 meters
in height. More than one of these colossal peaks lies in the environs
. Their summits, remote and lofty, attract
from all over the world.
Some of the favorite peaks are:
Mt El Plomo (5,424 m.)
this is one of the outstanding
and most beautiful peaks in the Santiago area. It offers trails
that require technical skill and others where no previous experience
is necessary, although prime fitness is a requirement. Ascent averages
4 days. Season: October through April.
Mts. La Paloma and El Altar (4,960 and 5,200 m. respectively)
they offer different ascents for experts and novices. On any of
these trails one must be in top physical condition. The climbing
of the two neighboring peaks takes a total of 4 days. Recommended
season: October through April. It is located inside the Yerba Loca
Tupungato Volcano, (6,570 m.),
located 64 kilometers
from Santiago, in the middle of the Andes Cordillera and on the
border of Chile and Argentina. The climb is medium difficulty and
takes a total of 12 days. Recommended season: November through March.
Marmolejo and San Jose Volcanoes, (6,109 and 5,856 m., respectively)
these are at the heart of the Maipo river source, almost 110 kilometers
from Santiago. The ascent to both peaks lasts an average of 9 days,
and is of moderate difficulty. The Marmolejo is dubbed as the "most
southerly 6,000 in the world". Recommended season: October through