Holidays and festivities- such as the Independence Day and Halloween- provide an excellent opportunity to escape the routine for a couple of days. This year, @alsocooks and I took advantage of the Chilean Independence Holiday to visit Peñuelas National Reserve- a convenient option, given it is only 45 minutes away from Santiago.
Peñuelas National Reserve entrance is located on 68 motorway, 89 kms, 45 minutes away from the Santiago, and 20 mins from Valparaíso. Lago Peñuelas (Peñuelas lake), along with La Campana National Park, are Biosphere Reserves (ecosystems which need to be preserved due to their biodiversity). Only minimal sustainable economic business activities are allowed inside the park. The one in Peñuelas Lake is administered by Ecoturismo Peñuelas.
Ecoturismo Peñuelas has, literally, ‘lodging’ facilities for all sort of budgets; from camping spots to domes and cabins. This way, you can escape reality without compromising your wallet.
Each camping spot, dome or cabin is provided with a brick, wood-fired oven, and a rubbish in. There is also enough room to park your car.
2. Dome description.
We ended up staying in a two-people dome. Inside, there were three beds (one double bed in the middle), two lamps each side of the double bed, and a multiple socket we used to charge our phones and a boiler we brought with us.
The administration only provides duvets, so you need to bring sheets, blankets and pillowcases.
PS: you really want to bring pillowcases.
3. What we liked.
Entry fees are accessible and domes are not that expensive. Plus, they were clean and you could zip them from inside or outside using a padlock, which is also provided by the staff. Inside the dome, beds were comfortable and we had a multiple socket.
Along the Reserve there are plenty of spots to park your car and have a picnic or a barbeque while enjoying the view of the lake without having to rent a cabin, dome or a camping place to spend the night. According to the website, there are more than 120 picnic spots all around the National Reserve.
4. What we didn’t like.
The Reserve is huge, yet the camping area, the domes, and the cabins were all very close to each other. The domes were one in front of the other, only a couple of meters apart. As a result, we had almost no privacy.
What’s more, a couple of minutes after we had arrived, our neighbours turned the radio on and, well, farewell peace!
There is a phone you can call in case somebody is making too much noise, and though I wanted to do it, soon I realised all along the park people had turned on their radios very loud. I would have had to denounce almost all the people inside the reserve.
There was a cafeteria. We saw it twice. Once, when closing, so we didn’t get in, and the next day, in the morning. It was also pretty closed, in spite of being 10am, (the time it was supposed to be opened).
5. What you can do there.
There are two paths you can explore, either walking, by car or by bike. They are perfect to connect with nature, since all the loud neighbours are in the camping and picnic areas. Apparently, there are more than 120 different bird species. I only identified two, the big grey ones, and the tiny back ones (I am terrible at bird watching).
You can also fish, especially Pejerrey (greater silver smelt) or just chill out in the forest or near the lake.
6. What you can’t do there.
Hunting, swimming in the lake, making fire outside the brick oven, and bringing pets are forbidden. Also listening to loud music. Seems those people didn’t get that last rule.
7. How to get there.
- Renting a car is the most comfortable option, since you can get there whenever you want, and leave the place without worrying about the bus schedule. From Santiago, take Ruta 68 highway to Valparaíso. The entrance to the Reserve is on the 87,5 km.
- You can also take a bus from Santiago to Casablanca and ask the driver to leave you at 87,3 km. From Viña del Mar or Valparaiso, you can take a bus to either Santiago or Casablanca and ask the driver to drop you at 87.5 km.
- Don’t take a cab! It will be extremely expensive.
For more info, click here!