Thursday, May 10, 2012

Hot Spring under the Star in Chile

Thanks to our host in Santiago, Diego, who recommended us to a nearby hot spring, around 2 hours by car near the city, Termas Valle de Colina, which is in Cajon del Maipo. He drew a cute map for us, although his flatmates teased him for that. It was very kind of him; we were still keeping this map as his gift to us.

We took metro from Tobalaba to Las Mercedes Station, which take about an hour, then got on a blue bus to San Jose de Maipo.

San Jose de Maipo is a quiet little town, we waited for a while and there was not much car around. We still have a long way to go heading Termas de Colina.

We got a colectivo stopped for us. Colectivo is a shared taxi going to a fixed location, where everyone pay a fixed price per person, depending on the distance.

There was an old lady in the front and it was able to take us to the police control of San Gabriel. It is the end of the concrete road, beyond that, it's all pebbles and mud.

On our way, there was another girl getting in, after knowing that we wish to go to Termas de Colina, she helped us make some call and asked if we like a taxi order for C$300 (?!) It was so expensive, but she said no bus will go there. We actually see some irregular bus going further to El Volcan, there was someone waiting in a bus stop but we were not sure if there was anything for the guy.

We reached San Gabriel police control and walked up the valley for a while. We reached a campsite near the riverside, lunched there and saw a couple hitchhiked successfully nearby.

With more confidence, we waited in the same spot. There were mostly construction trucks passing by, as there were a lot of mines and construction site (for a power station, I heard). We finally got lucky and managed to stop a van who was heading to a construction site near Banos Morales. This is great! We are then very near to our destination, with a sign showing 17km.

A flash of thought thinking we should stay in Banos Morales for a relaxing hot spring resort stay, but Adley insisted on moving forward.

We thought walking was not too difficult, though it probably took a while- 3 or 4 hours? The valley was going uphill and no cars around at all. For a one day hot spring trip, we are already quit late, it's almost 3pm.

We walked for an hour or two, the road seems never ending. There was Sam Jose Volcano and we kept circulating the colorful mountain, thinking another turn will get there but the road never stop. We tried to stop a car leaving the valley, wanting to ask the direction to make sure, however they thought we are hitchhiking, didn't stop and show is they are full.

They looked like finishing a hot bath, so we moved on.

We got lucky again and found a 4x4 passing by. A pair of love birds was heading to the hot spring! The lady shared some walnut and the road was really narrow and bumpy and long.

Another half an hour or so, we finally get there - Termas de Colina. I missed the picture before, and was surprised to see that there is...nothing! An entrance gate with no one there, a deserted area with sand, mud, snow and nothing, a cafe that is closed, then we drove uphill and there was a car parking area with a few cars there. We thanks the couple and walked on.

We passed some vans, with their backdoor opened and they were partying, with a giant wok of soup, meat, chicken and seafood, a fire, beers, table, cups and plates. We looked curious and was invited by a guy who speaks a little English.

He was the son of a butcher. His father was here for a day off with his friends. So nice, closing the shop on Friday to enjoy hotspring! We shared their soup and food and some rum coke as well. Then headed for the hotspring.

Just turning a short path, we are there. Seems like the Istanbul lake in layer, it was a group of small outdoor ponds, with water coming from a cave.

We set a tent, got changed and i rushed into a pond with good view of the volcanos and no one. Then I noticed why there was none. It was a lower pond, hot water cone from the top, so temperature gradually decrease and the weather was really cold. I had a hard time standing up to the cold wind before jumping to an upper pond.

The ponds in layers have some fountain source which work like massage for shoulder. The ponds and hot water are natural from the mountain and there was mud too. People all put mud on their face and the water was a little salty.

We soaked there for a while and was considering if we should ask the butcher to take us back to Santiago, as it's so windy and cold up here. Also, I'm worried that there is no car going back.

We joined then for another hot soup, escaped from the trashed and drunk son, who fell on me at the back and I had a near escape of falling on the rocks next to the campfire and decided to stay for the night there.

That night, we camped in there, only the two of us (so we could get naked !) and jumped into the hot spring after dinner. The sky was filled with stars, and alas, we see a shooting star! Despite the coldness and wind, the water was so warm. We lied down on the edge of the pond, looking into the starry night and soaked until our skin winkled.

No regret. Weather getting even more cold (water was freezing) but spending a night alone I'm the hot spring is unspeakablly good. Adley wish to soak all night long in the hot spring but I was getting itchy all over, so I rushed to the. Changing room and showered before getting back into the tent.

The next day, we returned to the hot spring again, seeing sunrise with the stunning mountain scenery.

We left at around 10am. It was too early to have any car come for hot spring and take us back to town.

We walked down, checking our the only hostel and no car intended to leave. And we were chased by the guard to pay entrance fee.

We tried to hitchhike without successful and walked all our way back to Banos Morales. It was impossible to walk back all the way. So Adley and I had some lunch and waited in the deserted bus stop.

We saw a guy who looked like walking from the mountain of El Morado National Park dropping from a car. Tried to get in but it was leaving. The guy told us there is bus in El Volcan (but it's another 2-3 hours walk). Then a 4x4 arrived. We all got in, all three of us.

We are so lucky that the young man Santiago, who speaks English and his friend just returned from some mine for research and was heading back to Santiago.

They took us all the way back to town. Just one metro station from Tobalaba, where we lived!

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