Last week, we celebrated the re-opening of Conguillio National Park by exploring new gravel bike routes. With the Llaima volcano always at sight, we explored the park across colorful ancient monkey-puzzle tree forests.
Since 2003, Amity Tours has been the leading adventure travel operator of the Lake and Volcano District, Chile’s world-class destination. Among our main domains of expertise, cycling the incredibles routes of southern Chile is our main specialty, and the year 2021 marked a milestone in the history of Amity Tours.
Indeed, we decided to renew our bike tours with the new gravel modality. As we all know, the gravel bikes are buzzing in the world of cycling, and we certainly could not stay apart. Since the arrival of our new gravel bike fleet, we have been working on the best cycling way to explore the off-the-beaten routes of Chile’s Lake and Volcano District.
What is a Gravel Bike?
A gravel bike is a drop-bar bike designed to let you ride over many different surfaces. The drop handlebar and road bike-like design mean that you can make good progress on the road, but with wider tyres, lower gearing and stable handling you can also head off-the-beaten tracks.
A gravel bike will typically give you a more upright riding position than road bike geometry, with a longer head tube and shorter reach. That should result in more comfort on long rides and also lets you shift your weight around to tackle obstacles and off-road descents.
Scouting new routes in the Lake and Volcano District
Finally, we could change the office seat for a bike saddle and explore the routes we previously designed at our desks with a bike route planner software. Armed with a bunch of zero-waste snacks, bicycle tools and good mood we hit the road towards Conguillio National Park.
Travelling in times of COVID-19 is a big privilege. Thus, after 1 month of lockdown, we felt so grateful to be able to visit again one of the most beautiful parks of Chile. Starting from our operation center based in Pucón, Chile’s capital of adventure travel, we initiated the road trip on our pickup.
During the first 70 kilometers, we tracked routes on GPS, searching the most beautiful roads and trails, in addition to enjoying the spectacular views over the Villarrica lake and volcano. Moreover, we took advantage of the moment to stop by our beloved and exclusive Santa Amalia Polo Lodge.
Gravel Biking in Conguillio National Park
Conguillio National Park is located in La Araucania Region, approximately 110 kilometers from Temuco city. Without a doubt, Conguillio is one of the highlights of Chile’s Lake and Volcano District, and part of the Kütralkura Geopark by UNESCO. Indeed, with 60,831 hectares and altitudes ranging between 700 and 3,125 meters above sea level.
More importantly, the unparalleled beauty of Conguillio National Park is mostly expressed in the native thousand-year-old Araucaria tree forests and also the remarkable lava flows like long black scars drawn in the landscape. Truth to be said, the landscapes are impressive: the active Llaima volcano (3,125 meters), the extinguished Sierra Nevada volcano and the pristine Verde, Captrén and Arcoiris lagoons.
Upon arrival at the park, we could immediately observe the presence of the Llaima volcano on our left-hand side. This volcano is the highlight of Conguillio National Park. Historically, the Llaima volcano is one of the most active in South America, and one of the most voluminous in the southern Andes.
Afterwards, we kept pedaling until arriving to the famous Truful Truful Canyon. There, we could observe the fantastic 20-meter waterfall, along with the geological and eruptive history of Conguillio National Park. In other words, standing in this special part of the park is like a trip to the past. Indeed, it reveals how the Llaima volcano and the effects of the ancient glaciers deposited in the valleys haven been shaping the landscape for the last thirteen thousand years.
These surprising changes are projected in layers of land that were eroded and cut vertically by the effect of the Truful-Truful River.
Following our adventures, we kept gravel cycling towards the andean volcanic lagoons. We first arrived at Laguna Verde (green lagoon) that connects with the Truful Truful river and through which it drains. At this time of the year, the water level is at its lowest point and the lagoon seems to be very small. During the rain season, and especially in spring, we can appreciate the full size and greenish color of the lagoon.
Right after, we entered the extensive colorful temperate-rain-forests of ancient and native Nothofagus trees. On the way, we stopped by the Arcoiris Lagoon. Formed by the damming of the waters of a estuary, the lagoon is product of lava flows from the Llaima volcano, the great sculptor of the landscape of Conguillio.
Following the smooth gravel road, we finally reached the impressive Araucaria trees. These monkey-puzzle trees with the Sierra Nevada Volcano in the background let you feel like reaching another world. We even spotted two Condors overflying the forest. What a majestic animal, flying through the wind with its enormous wings.
Finally, we reached our last point of interest: the Captrén Lagoon. The Lagoon doesn’t cease to surprise us with the dozens of trees submerged in the water, which can be easily seen.
The water is a mix of green, deep blue and transparent color, making this lagoon a unique place. There, we can also admire the contrast between the volcanic remains surrounding the Captrén, and the lush forests of intense green color.
Visiting the Conguillio National Park in autumn is just a blast. The golden-colored native forests and stunning sunsets invite to fill your camera with unforgettable pictures, and fill your heart with strong energy from Mother Nature.
Amity’s best choice of accommodation: La Baita Conguillio
La Baita Conguillio is Chile’s first ecolodge. Pioneer in the area, with a recognized prestige for the quality and warmth of the services delivered. La Baita Lodge is equipped with 6 comfortable rooms designed with native wood and looms, added to large windows that overlook a ravine from where the wonderful araucarias hang.
The restaurant offers a healthy and organic menu with products from local suppliers, while its SPA offers great relaxation with a massage room and several hot-tubs amomg the native forest.
And not to forget the famous hot-tub under the open sky! Can you imagine a better way to relax your muscles after a challenging biking day? We felt so lucky! Arriving at the lodge and immersing ourselves into the warm water, watching the starry sky and chatting about the beautiful day we just spent together!
Contact us for more info about our active trips in the Conguillio National Park, and check out Instagram and Facebook to follow our adventures in Chile’s Lake and Volcano District.