National Park Lauca, Chile

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The Footprint guidebook named this place as “one of the most spectacular national parks in Chile”. Well, this writer pretty much got me on my feet to check it out myself. My original plan was to get to Arica, a big coastal city in northern tip of Chile, and then get a ride to the national park for a daytrip. But Arica is 4 hours further up the road from La Paz, so I decided to stay in a village named Putre in the national park instead.

I bought a ticket for a bus going to Arica, and I told the driver to drop me off by the junction going into Putre. If everything goes on American time, I should be by the junction at around 6pm that evening.  By then I will still have some daylight safe enough to hitch a car going to Putre.  Well I forgot the Bolivians actually get on the Spanish time. Of course the bus schedule will never tell me how the bus will get stuck at the border and then more delays came with Chilean’s highway construction around the northern border.  By the time we got to the junction, it’s around 9:30pm and it’s already very dark.  The driver dropped me off at an intersection with just one lamp on and pointed to the pitch-black road and said, “just follow this road and you will get to the village”.

After waiting at the junction and not seeing another trace of life passing by,  I saw some lights about a kilometer down the highway so I walked towards the light, thinking of finding a telephone to call a hostel (not funny to walk in the dark with all the trucks wavering right next to you). As I saw a car came out from there I grabbed my chances and stopped it (in the dark). In a mixture of language deficiencies and understandings and misunderstandings, they were happy to help me out. The driver even wanted to drop me in the center of the village instead of its edge because “it’s very dangerous” outside of the village according to him…

Since there was actually no transportation from here to the national park, I waved down a the rangers car in the morning and they helped me to get oriented in the park. However, I still got lost in the wild that afternoon, and that’s when a police car escorting the transportation of their construction equipment found me and picked me up… gotta love hitchhiking in Chile

From National Park Lauca, Chile, posted by Jenny Zheng on 8/08/2012 (114 items)

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