hitch hiking, Log, Travel

How to get to Nevados de Sollipulli

I had been walking alone for at least two hours on the volcano without meeting a soul, when two guardiaparques called me from a distance.

“You should give us your full name and passport number” – said the first
“Uh, and let me take a photo of you, in case we have to recognize the body” – said the second.
I felt a little bit scared.

They could not agree on what the safest and shortest path to the volcano’s crater was. And actually, I could understand only 50% of what they said, partly because of my bad spanish, and partly because of their southern Chilean accent. So I ignored what they said and just kept on going my way.
Fifteen minutes after, I was drinking melted snow on the edge of a 7 miles crater filled with ice and snow: The Sollipulli.

That is to say: if you want to go (a little bit) off the tourist track, see an impressive scenery sporting a 15km3 glacier inside a volcano crater and get a view of several other araucanian volcanoes, the Sollipulli is the place for you.

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The Sollipulli volcano is near Melipeuco, which is in Araucania, ‘near’ Temuco. It features, as I mentioned, a huge glacier-filled crater, that you reach only after walking in a forest of araucarias, and some kilometers on volcanic ash and rocks.
If you are in the super-expensive Pucon, Melipeuco can be a nice break.
It was so desert, I could even make a video of me running naked in the snow (not included in this post)

This excellent post explains you exactly how to get there, and also gives you gps reference point (they were really really useful, as there’s no real path).
Unfortunately, there are two wrong things on this post:

  • from the beginning of the trail, it just takes 3 hours / 3 hours and a half to get to the top. Not 4- 6 hours. I begun walking at 10:30 at morning and it was perfectly fine. I was back in Malipeuco at 7pm
  • The biggest imprecision in the post is:”you need a four-wheel drive”. Not true: you can use your finger. I’ll provide  some details:
  1. Get to Temuco. Hitch hiking should be easy – it’s on the ruta 5.
  2. Get to Melipeuco, either by bus or by hitch hiking.(I can’t remember the rates)
  3. After Melipeuco, your only option is hitch hiking. There’s no public transportation (yeah, you can also buy a tour if you want to).
  4. Spend your night in the Eco Campamento, near the beginning of the trek. Why?
    Because otherwise you’ll have to hitch hike at morning, and there are not so many cars. It took me three hours to hitch hike about 20km early at morning – and I was lucky enough to get there on time.

And beware! in summer, Melipeuco is infested with tábanos!

(the timelapse you see is from Patricio Farina, who I met in the Huerquehue National Parque and reccommended me the Sollipulli)