Drive to Frey Jorge National Park
Trip Start Jan 08, 2014
18Trip End Jan 25, 2014
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We tried to get out early this morning but breakfast was only served at 8:30 am. The lady who runs this hostel is a delight -always trying to be helpful and very friendly. She gave us hugs and kisses when we left the car parking area. We made it out sometime between 9 and 9:30.
The drive to Frey Jorge was quite long - first an hour back to La Serena and then some miles on the main road - ruta 5 - until we got to the 27 km of dirt road that led to the park entrance. After that it was another 7 km to the 1 km trail in the "forest." This is the sole remaining part of the huge forest that used to cover the coast of northern Chile - or this part of Chile - not the most extreme north. This part from La Serena to the park entrance took over 2 hr.
We stopped at the interpretative center and ate our picnic lunch - our goat cheese, tomatoes, bread that Astrid picked up this morning and grapes that the young Russians gave us plus some other things too maybe
Before I get to the NP, the road itself was an adventure. It was dirt with some heavily corrugated sections that jarred the teeth and probably the car's interiors. It was curvy and hilly and I had to shift into second gear and drive in that for quite awhile. We went down one hill that Astrid insisted that I do in first gear on the way back. Once we hit the park, we had 7 km, including a 5 km hill that we were told we should do in first gear since they did not want people stopping, stalling on the hills and then making huge tire ruts by spinning their tires. I think we encountered a few instances of that phenomenon where the car just bumped along - like mini moguls for little cars.
The 1 km path first took us along a section where there were lots of shrubby plants - some were flowering - so we took lots of pics of the various kinds of plants. Astrid gave me a leaflet in Spanish that may have some of the names. I took photos of the wooden signs that labeled the plants but they only had their Chilean names. After awhile we got into the bigger trees - some had little tiny leaves and were quite small and at the very end were a few very large trunked trees with multiple trunks - I thought one of these was called something macho....because I guess they were big men trees - but the "macho" turned out to be a different plant
The atmospheric foggy mist began to clear a little bit by the time we had finished after 4 pm. When we started it was quite misty and there were no views but we could see hills covered in cactus - well, maybe not covered, but with lots of one particular type of cactus that has the fruit - copao. Astrid also found a short, stubby one. That was when we stopped on the way to take some photos of them - not thinking that we would see any in the park because it was a rainforest type park - the trees were able to grow because of the mist coming off the Pacific Ocean. There was quite a bit of lichen on the trees and we (Astrid actually spotted them) also found some different colored fungi.
So, on the way back we stopped a few times to try to get some photos with larger vistas and more cacti. The cacti are quite pretty - not as large as saguaros but nicely shaped and covered with prickles. The way back I felt a bit more secure driving and not quite so anxious about stalling the car on a big hill or falling off the sides of the hills - since there weren't guard rails on all the corners.
We drove back to La Serena in good time. We had a bit of a difficulty getting onto our street because of all the one way streets and dead ends and no left turn signs, etc, but finally made it and I was able to put the car in the parking lot - as it were
After this little episode, we went to find some food. I felt like having an empanada so we ended up at the Plaza de Armas where there was some sort of summer festival with musicians, clowns, jugglers and lots of booths with crafts for sale and some food. I got my empanada and Astrid got some popcorn. After that I got some pisco sour ice cream and it was very good and tasted just like a pisco sour. We made our way back to our hostel after checking our the Iglesia Santa Domingo that is quite old - maybe 16th or 17th C - looted by English pirates and burnt down and rebuilt. It had Xmas music playing inside - "I am Dreaming of a White Christmas" - but in Spanish. Oh, I forgot there was a big Xmas tree with red lights on it next to the big church on the plaza.
We got back to the hostel only to find that someone has parked us in - unfortunate for our early getaway tomorrow, but we were promised that we would not be delayed since it is the woman from next door and she is an early riser. I tried to get on the internet but it went out before I could connect with anything. I uploaded my photos and am doing this blog on wordpad and now Astrid has turned off her light so it is time for me to finish.