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If you ever happen to have the idea of swimming in the Bio Bio river, be very careful when taking a dive or swimming: natural syphons and underwater whirlpools form without being noticed from the surface, even at such short distance as 1 metre from the river's edge.
These syphons can suck swimmers so strongly that they are unable to swim back to the surface, sometimes covering them underwater with sand, making any rescue attempt impossible.
Every summer, several people drowns this way in the banks of the river and in the 7-kilometre wide river mouth at Hualpén.
So, if you decide to spend the afternoon at some of the riverside beaches and seasonal islets, be careful if getting into the water (avoid fast moving water stretches and loose sand pools), and get out of it if you feel that the current is getting unusually strong.
All these warnings apply in summer only: in winter, the river comes so swollen, troubled and cold that getting close to the water is nonsense.
Updated Feb 21, 2004
Phone: Police: 133 - Marine rescue: 137
Luggage and bags: It's up to you.
I prefer my internal-frame pack as usual.
Remember that it can be rainy at any time of the year.
Clothing/Shoes/Weather Gear: Summer: short sleeved items, short pants, sandals, hat.
Winter: Waterproof clothing, such as parkas, hat, pants, waterproof (Gore-Tex) or spare shoes, rain boots, very warm clothing for all the rest of the time you're not outdoors.
Any season: sun hat, windbreak jacket, 1long sleeved shirt and trouser, 1 fleece jacket.
Toiletries and Medical Supplies: There's anything you may need in Concepcion (it's said that it is the city with the biggest per capita ratio of pharmacies in Chile).
Anyway, don't forget a high -or better, a very high- factor sunblock in summer.
Mosquito repellent is useful in some lakes and beaches to keep sandflies away.
Photo Equipment: Again, anything you want.
For landscapes, a moderate (28 or 35 mm.) wideangle is good, and a telephoto of your choice for sea and countryside scenes.
All kinds of batteries and videotape, and almost any kind of film, can be found in Concepcion, at standard prices.
Print film developing is good quality, although slide film (E-6) must be taken to Santiago for processing and takes 2-3 days to get back.
Camping/Beach/Outdoor Gear: If camping in summer in the sea or lakeside, take a standard, 2- or 3-season tent (because rain can happen at any moment of the year, aon short notice). Seaside temperatures are mild, so a summer sleeping bag is enough; inland, temperatures rise a lot and chances of summer rain decrease.
Fuel for any butane/propane gas camping stove is readily available, and so is white gas for MSR's.
Add to this: sleeping pad, torch, and the standard stuff for camping.
Written Feb 21, 2004
Concepción is surrounded by Bio Bio river and this northern remainder of the Nahuelbuta range known as Cerro Caracol.
It covers more than 22 kilometres from north to south, its elevation in front of the city centre is 150 metres, reaching only 290 metres at its highest point, and is extremely easy to access right from the street level: just go to Parque Ecuador -3 blocks S from the main square- and find out any of the uphill paths, or simply follow the main cobblestone road leading to Mirador Aleman (German lookout).
The advantage of taking an "unofficial" path, is that through them, one can find the countless streams and natural spots that dot this range. Even in winter, after the rain, it's a refreshing place to visit, despite the muddy ground and the expectable cold: the scents of trees and vegetation, the lights and the bird's calls make it a memorable experience for nature lovers.
The picture in this tip, was taken on June 16, 1981, in the area of Cerro Caracol that has always been a part of my family home's backyard (it's good to have a whole rainforest as a playground for your own, believe me...), and it has not changed at all since then.
I used a Praktica Super TL3, a Zeiss Tessar 50 mm. lens, f.4-5,6, 1/60 sec., POL filter, Kodak Ektachrome 64 slide film.
Updated Feb 21, 2004