Day 137

Weekend Digest: A Different Kind of Cabin Fever

Well, it’s officially Fall in Chile. The weather has turned a bit colder, the rain is more consistent, and most importantly, the leaves are starting to change colors and shed. Given these changes, we’ve focused our last two weekends on being fully immersed in the outdoors – and we’ve treated ourselves a little bit beyond the normal camping to some cozy cabin stays.

Huilo Huilo Biological Reserve

We has first heard about Huilo Huilo when we visited Pucon. There were some tours that went to the destination to check out some of the really crazy lodging options that exist within the reserve. We didn’t think much of it at the time, because we thought it may be a bit of a tourist trap spot, but I did a little bit more research and realized that this overall reserve was supposed to be a really pretty location about 3 hours away from us in Temuco. I looked at some lodging options, and was hoping that we could stay at the Montana Magica hotel; however, it was closed for the season and undergoing some renovations. On the bright side, we ended up booking these very small elevated cabins in the “Canopy Village” of the reserve. There were about 25 of these cabins all interconnected by an elevated walkway over a reserve that had lots of deer and birds around the property. Long story short, it was really awesome and enjoyable.

We drove there on Friday night after work, and got there a bit past dark. I’m not a fan of driving Lemmy in the dark because the lights aren’t the best, and add the fact that it was rainy and the drive was not that desirable. However, I could tell we were traveling past a lot of great scenery that I was sad we couldn’t see, but looked forward to seeing on the way back out on Sunday. We got checked in were shown to our canopy, dropped our things off, and then went to the communal kitchen to eat some food that we had brought. We weren’t sure of all the accommodations to we brought lots of food in a cooler – pasta salad, chicken, fruits, snacks, tuna, crackers, sandwiches, chocolate, wine – you know, the necessities. We ate there, then went to our canopy to sleep – pretty simple night overall.

On Saturday, we woke up relatively early and walked around all the elevated walkways of the canopy village. We saw some deer roaming around, but not that many. We went to the communal area for a light breakfast and then walked over to the main hotel facilities to check them out – as they are well-known for their architecture. We stopped by the Nothofagus Hotel (where we actually had to check in the night before), and just walked around the property. This was a ridiculous hotel with a ton of amenities and just a really good escape to nature. We didn’t stay there because it was about $250 a night (yah, we opt for the simple “sleep on a cot” canopy accommodations).

From there, we were in search of some good hiking trails. A few of the trails left from the Nothofagus Hotel, so we opted for two short ones that had a couple views. As I mentioned before, it is now rainy season and this past week (and now weekend) were very rainy. Therefore, we bundled up in our rain gear (including our first experience with our rain pants – we were very lucky to not need these on the W-Trek), and made our way towards the trails. We hiked for about two hours, up and down in a very lush forest. It was different hiking than we had previously done – it was less about grandiose sweeping views at the end of a trail, and instead more about the vegetation and fauna throughout the hike. A very pleasant surprise was that a couple puppers decided to join us along the way, so we had some hiking buddies.

After finishing a rain-filled hike, we stopped inside the Montana Magica hotel, and related over some cups of tea. A key theme of this weekend was just relaxing and enjoying the scenery and lodges, etc.

From there, we didn’t feel like hiking in the rain anymore, so we walked over to the local brewery. Yup – even Huilo Huilo has a brewery, and it was a huge lodge with brewing capabilities on-site. We ate on the trail, so we just found a table, had a couple local drafts and continued our 180-day match of rummy. It was great.

We then walked back to the Canopy Village – we ended up switching cabins as they offered us a place that had a bathroom inside the canopy for free – so we moved our things and enjoyed our upgraded facilities. We ended up getting to our canopy around 5 p.m. and didn’t leave again. The night consisted of more rummy, a fancy dinner of tuna, crackers, pasta salad, chocolates, and wine. The water wasn’t working for a while, but finally kicked on around 8 p.m., so we both took showers, and then got into our sleeping bags on the cots within the canopy and put Wall-E on the iPad. To quote Sarah – this was her perfect day – it involved cabins, hiking, tea, rummy, breweries, sleeping bags, chocolate, wine, and Wall-E. I thought it was a pretty nice day as well.

On Sunday, we got up and going around 9:30 a.m. and walked around near the Canopy Village. We ended up walking on some more elevated trails near the village, but to a separate area that had better viewing of all the deer. There were so many large male deer with the antlers – pretty enjoyable to just watch.

We walked around a little longer, then checked out of our canopy and got back into Lemmy to drive around some of the local towns. We stopped by a café that Sarah wanted to visit on our way out of the Huilo Huilo area, and enjoyed one last meal in a cabin like café for some coffee and kuchen. We then drove back to Temuco, but this time, the rain has subsided and we were able to enjoy the scenery that surrounded us. It honestly felt like we were driving through the Great Smokey Mountains in Tennessee.

We made it back to Temuco earlier than expected on Sunday – did a pretty deep cleaning of the apartment – hung out on our laptops and then watched the latest episode of Game of Thrones. All in all, a really nice and relaxing weekend in Huilo Huilo!

Another visit to Conguillio National Park 

We really enjoyed our first trip to Conguillio National Park a couple months back. When we were there, we explored the lodging options and found some cool looking 3-person cabanas. They were a bit expensive a few months ago, and since it was so nice out we decided to camp. However, with it getting colder now, we opted to stay at one of these cabanas for one night (and it helped that it was now the cheaper off-season rate).

We drove to the park on Saturday morning, arriving around 10:30 a.m. We could instantly tell that the park was far more empty than it was a couple months ago, which was surprising to us because the trees were changing colors and it was really pretty. However, given that it was Mother’s Day Weekend, we think that played a factor as well.

We got to the park and were immediately able to check into the cabana – so we quickly stopped there and dropped off our stuff and food (they had a fridge, which was an upgrade from the previous weekend), and made a quick sandwich. From there, we wanted to do a couple hikes that took us to areas we didn’t see before. We did a portion of the Carpintero hike that led us to one of the largest Araucaria trees (called Madre Araucaria) that is over 1800 years old.

It was a really pretty hike through dense forest – we didn’t get a great sense of the leaves changing colors because it was still so green. However, as we got further in, we saw more foliage changes. The weather was perfect as well with cool crisp air. For the two hours, we only saw about 4 people on the trail, and then another 4 when we made it to the tree. We loved feeling like we had the place to ourselves.

After finishing that hike, we were on our walk back, and the clouds were clearing a bit, so we opted to check out another trail (“Sendero Playa”), and walk along the beach. With this hike, we could see all the leaves changing colors across the lake and high on the mountains. We walked on this trail for about an hour and didn’t see a single other person – not only on the trail, but in the distance either. It was fantastic.

We finished that and made our way back to the cabana. It was close to 3 p.m. now, and we had done our exercise for the day, so it was time to just lock ourselves in and relax. It was fantastic. There was a wood-burning stove in the cabana with plenty of firewood provided, which was great. While our current “binge-watching” show is still Game of Thrones (we’re watching older seasons between the new episodes), we can only see those with WIFI. Given the cabana didn’t have WIFI, we had previously downloaded episodes of Ozark (which Sarah hadn’t seen yet, but I’ve wanted to re-watch the first season), so we binged that. We had also brought a ton of food as we wanted to make a nice hearty soup, add a home made charcuterie plate, and a bottle of wine, and we were set for the night.

We woke up on Sunday, and made one of our favorite breakfasts: shakshuka. If you haven’t gotten the theme of this weekend – it really was about the relaxing and food.

We left our cabana around 11:30 and headed out of the park. On our way out, we stopped by Sarah’s favorite spot (Arcoiris, which ironically was the name of our cabana), to snap some autumn photos around the lake.

Arcoiris. That’s Nick in the background!

The rest of the day was as planned – a short 2-hour drive back to Temuco, and then getting settled back at our apartment before starting the week at the foundation.

We really enjoyed the last two weekends – was more focused on relaxing and just enjoying the scenery than the normal “go, go, go” which we’ve spent so many of our weekends doing. Oh yah, and if we hadn’t mentioned, we really love the fall in Chile.

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