University of Wisconsin–Madison

La Campana

As I get closer and closer to the end of my study abroad, I’ve been getting more and more questions asking me what has been my favorite part of Chile. Which is a really hard question to answer because I’ve done so many crazy things that it’s hard to just choose one of them from the last three and a half months that I liked best. But if I HAD to choose, hiking up la campana last weekend would definitely be up there in my top three. Technically it’s called “el cerro La Campana” which means “the hill La Campana,” but the fact that my sunscreen exploded at the top due to the altitude difference from the bottom was enough to convince me that this “cerro” is most definitely (at least a small-scale) mountain. When I googled it later, turns out it’s actually 1,880 meters above sea level. I don’t think I’d call that a hill, but that’s just me.

To get to La Campana, located in El Parque Nacional La Campana near a town called Olmué, two friends and I met at 7:00 am on a Saturday (ouch) to take two different micros to the park. We finally arrived around 9:30, but somehow got off a little too soon so we hiked through the pretty mountain town of Olmué before we even got to the park.

Hiking to the hike
Hiking to the hike

It was definitely worth the walk because we saw this cow chillin’ in the middle of the road on our way to the park entrance:

cow
cow

Once we got into the park, paid and got our map, it was time to start the climb. Although I had never climbed anything close to a mountain before (being from Minnesota and Wisconsin where these things don’t happen), I was definitely a fan, even though it wasn’t long before my legs got super sore from climbing. Here are pictures from some of my favorite parts of the hike. In total, we summated in a little over three hours.

Climbing past the clouds
Climbing past the clouds
Me looking exhausted from going up
Me looking exhausted from going up
Mountain islands in a sea of clouds
Mountain islands in a sea of clouds
First view of the top
First view of the top
The ridge
The ridge
Enjoying the view
Enjoying the view
SUCCESS
SUCCESS

When we finally reached the top (el cumbre), we hung out for a while, ate some snacks (crackers and jelly had never tasted so good) and enjoyed the beautiful view. On a clear day, you’re supposed to be able to see the entire width of Chile all the way from the Pacific Ocean in the west to the Andes in the east. We couldn’t because there were clouds, but it was still a pretty incredible view.

The only bad part of the hike was that the next day I had already signed up to do an 8km race in Valparaíso with some other friends. So the day after climbing up a mountain, I ran 8 kilometers up and down the seaside hills of Valpo which was a little painful and not recommended.

8 km race
8 km race

I don’t know if climbing La Campana was my favorite favorite part of Chile, but it was definitely one of them, and one of the coolest things I’ve ever done. I would definitely recommend it for anyone who happens to be living nearby in the beautiful city of Valparaíso.