A little-known area of exceptional natural beauty, Conguillio National Park is located in the Araucanía Region of Chile. Comprising lush forests of araucaria and nothofagus species, the park makes an immediate visual impression thanks to the grand peaks of the Llaima and Sierra Nevada volcanoes that preside over the entire region.
In fact, these volcanoes have played a vital role in shaping the dramatic topography of the park, where vast, black lava flows now contrast with the white, snowy peaks of distant mountains and picturesque meltwater lakes. It’s also home to an important ecosystem containing the ancient araucaria tree, a genus of the distinctive Chilean pine or monkey-puzzle tree, and which gave Conguillio National Park its nickname – Los Paraguas (The Umbrellas).
How to get to Conguillío National Park
The nearest city, Temuco, is situated 70 miles (115 km) away. The easiest way of visiting Conguillio National Park is via your own vehicle, although some public transport does serve the park.
The roads inside the park are unpaved but accessible without a 4WD, although conditions can be difficult during winter when snow and rain can make the roads impassable for small vehicles.
There are no shops within the park, so food and water must be bought in Temuco.
When is the best time to visit Conguillio National Park?
Warm, wet conditions should be expected throughout the year with rainfall particularly heavy in June, July and August. Although it’s open all year round, visit between September and May to see the park in its full splendor, particularly as the fall colors transform the landscape into a spectacular mixture of golden hues.
The park is open from 8:30am to 18:00pm, Mondays to Sundays and entry is $4 ($2800 CLP). During the winter months, the small Las Araucarias Ski Center on the west side of Llaima Volcano is also open.
Where to stay in the park
There are five campsites in the park: Ñirres, Carpintero and Estero, which cost $30 ($20.000 CLP) per night and have a capacity of five people as well as Caseta and Hoyón, which cost $53 ($35.000) per night.
Cabins for up to seven people are also available, with prices ranging from $100 ($60,000 CLP) to $130 ($85,000 CLP) per night. These cabins come equipped with cooking facilities, kitchen utensils, a refrigerator, oven and linens.
Top sights in Conguillio National Park
The Llaima volcano
An essential sight is the Llaima volcano – one of the most active volcanoes in South America. Standing at 10,250 ft. (3,125 meters), its most recent two eruptions increased its height by 230 ft. (70 m).
The impressive Laguna Conguillio sits below the extinct but looming Sierra Nevada volcano and is surrounded by mature araucaria trees, the oldest in the park being over 1,800 years.
Trails and hiking routes in Conguillio National Park
- Experience the Sierra Nevada trail, a 6 mile (10 km) trek which passes through nothofagus woods and has viewpoints overlooking the Llaima volcano and Laguna Conguillio.
- The Las Araucarias Self-guided Educational Trail has a series of photographs and panels that introduce visitors to the park.
- The Truful Educational Trail is another short informative trek with information about the geographical formation of the area.
- The Cerro Colorado Educational Trail passes around the western side of the Llaima Volcano and offers vistas of the valley and the winding, black lava flows that mark previous eruptions.
- More experienced hikers can summit the Llaima volcano from the northern side of the park. The route begins at the ranger’s station Captrén and requires ice axes, crampons and a rope to safely reach the peak.