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Refugio Lo Valdes, Cajon del Maipo

From: "andrew cooke" <andrew@...>

Date: Thu, 8 Feb 2007 00:04:48 -0300 (CLST)

http://www.refugiolovaldes.com/

We spent last night at this hostel near the head of the Maipo valley. 
Pauli found it for my sister, who is still there (I assume!), spending a
few days walking.

It's a typical hostel place, with a bunch of simple, clean, small rooms
with beds, some shared bathrooms, and a (cheaper) loft for those with
sleeping bags - very European (I didn't know anything like this existed in
Chile).  They also serve food: yesterday evening I ate a couple of
delicious pork steaks with wild blackberry chutney on a pile of fancy
(onions and other veggies I can't remember) mashed potato; this morning we
had a continental breakfast which was pretty typical Chilean style plus a
bowl of scrambled eggs (curiously for a "good food" place, but still
typical for Chilean breakfasts, the coffee was Nescafe).

Travelling there (Metro to Puente Alto, bus to San Jose, then taxi up a
largely unsurfaced road) I assumed it would be a single isolated building
in the middle of nowhere, but in fact it's opposite (30min walk?) a small
hamlet called "Banos Morales" (named after the thermal baths, which looked
horrible) - there was more accommodation there, including camp sites and
cabins, but nothing that looked as good as the Refugio (or as
expensive...).

Beforehand we had bought a map which suggested that there were many
different walking routes around.  While that's still true, the map was
very misleading, being nothing like as good as an Ordnance Survey map and
showing even vertical rock faces as apparently walkable inclines - which
meas that in practice the number of routes is restricted, with a fair
amount of walking on very well-defined paths (at least near the building -
perhaps it becomes more open higher up).  The hostel also had details of
climbing and ice-climbing (a glacier is visible from the balcony).

Prices: 16.000 a night in a private room; 6.000 for the steak and mash;
20.000 taxi from San Jose; 5.000 return to San Jose in the owner's pickup
(there are cheaper access options, including a 2.500 minibus from Santiago
centre).

Andrew

More Lo Valdes Info

From: "andrew cooke" <andrew@...>

Date: Thu, 8 Feb 2007 00:13:21 -0300 (CLST)

I should add that there's a mine further up the valley still, and some
kind of processing/dump area nearer the Refugio, so large lorries are
often travelling up and down the road.

Across the river is a national park (El Morado).

The "owner" (he actually rents the building from an Alpine Club) is an
English guy, about our age I guess, who is friendly and (of course!)
speaks English, but everyone else who worked there seemed to be
Spanish-only.

Andrew

Bus Details

From: "andrew cooke" <andrew@...>

Date: Fri, 9 Feb 2007 21:04:10 -0300 (CLST)

Jo just arrived back at aout 8.30pm, so the TurimontaƱa bus takes about
two and a half hours from BaƱos Morales to Baquedano.

These pages refer to the bus service:
http://www.sernatur.cl/scripts/sitio/servicio_arriendo.php?servicio=351
http://www.loscorrecaminos.cl/alojamiento.htm

The second also includes details for another, Chilean owned, accomodation
in the same area.

Andrew

PS If you're an experienced walker, the time estimates for the various
walks that the people at Lo Valdes give seem to be pretty generous.  On
the other hand, ice sheets (in summer) make it difficult to get close to
the glacier without decent equipment/experience.

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