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Although the trail, in normal conditions, is clearly marked and assessed as safe, there are a few places where it is quite narrow, passing steep hillsides falling into the river or going to steeper descents further ahead.
The first of them is some 45 minutes ahead of the camping place next to the river with a sign that says "El Bolsón 1 hora" ('1 hour to go to El Bolsón'), where the trails narrows and takes a sudden descent of some 10 metres, and the next one is the sandy overlook to the Salto del Indio (Indio falls), right ahead from the shelter at Colmillo del Diablo, on the climb to Valle del Indio, where the ridge is somewhat unstable and hangs over a steep fall. Just don't step too close to the edge.
Updated Aug 21, 2006
Although the park has lots of water all around, the trail that leads to the interior of it has no water in summer, despite the several dry riverbeds one encounters enroute, for at least the first 2 to 3 hours of walk (depending on your pace and load).
Only at the second shelter (which is actually a wooden gazebo) there is a nearby stream that, in summer, sometimes has small puddles in the rock surface, as the main stream goes underground, beneath the rocks. If there's no water in the surface, scramble upstream for some 100-150 metres, keeping always your left, until you reach to the point where the stream sinks under the stones.
Knowing this, some of the signposts have indications telling how far (in minutes; think twice of what's indicated in the signs) is the water, in order to prevent people to get crazy and trying to look for the river, which can be heard running somewhere, but that is actually quite inaccessible from the trail.
After this point, water is found more often.
The co-ordinates to the point where the trail crosses the sunken stream are S 35º28'56,2"/W 70º57'22,5" - Altitude 1245.
Updated Aug 21, 2006
It would sound as obvious to many who can face the challenge of touring the park in winter, but bear in mind that, even for those highly familiar with the area, deep snow and fast changing conditions can disorientate anybody quite easily, regardless of how much they could know the area.
Under no-snow conditions, tracks and paths are clearly visible, the trails are signposted and ravines are easily visible, but under heavy fog, rain, darkness, and/or 3-metre deep snow, you can get lost in a heartbeat, as happened to a group of cowherds in 2005, who were searched for one weak until they were found somewhere near a shelter, but too late as on eof them had died of hypothermia, or as happened to one trekker who got lost (in February, this is, in the height of summer) under heavy fog, with one of them falling through a hole in soft bushes into a ravine, where he died (he was found after 10 days), or two experienced hikers who got lost under the same conditions in April, and found harmless after 3 days.
If trekking in the most remote areas of the park, or under winter conditions, bring a GPS, or at least a map and a compass (make sure to learn how to use them beforehand), give notice to anybody (whoever: news run fast here) where are you going, and ALWAYS bring a torch/headlamp with you (even if you plan on returning to your camp in daytime).
If there is snow on the trail, beacon it with some kind of mark you can recover later, as holes in soft snow are an actual hazard, and if possible, bring a VHF radio and ask for the frequencies in operation to the rangers or, if they don't know them at the moment (they use preset channels, that are not always known to them -> note that CONAF uses a subtone/CTCSS code of 88,5 kHz, which has to be set in order to contact any of its radio stations), notify them of the frequency that you will be listening to.
No cellular phone services work in the Radal and Parque Ingles area.
Updated Aug 20, 2006
Locally named alacranes, these small arachnids are usually found in the ground of the CONAF's camping area, hidden between fallen leaves and under small stones and branches.
They are not highly dangerous to people, and are rather shy and elusive, but if stepped on or teased, they would sting (they do not bite) you with their tail that has a venom injector on the tip.
If stung, remember that this is a neurotoxic venom that, at least in the species found in Chile, is too weak and of such a minimal amount that, unless you are especially sensitive to the toxin, or allergic, usually is more a nuisance than a danger (it is less offensive than a bee sting).
If affected by such attack, do the following:
1) Clean the affected area with cold water and soap
2) Apply ice, or dip the area in cold water (plentiful in Radal)
3) Never suck or press the stung area
The main problems coming from an alacran sting, are infections of the affected area, which can get itchy, swollen and show a rash. Do not manipulate the area with dirty nails, and if you are affected beyond this point, look for medical aid, as it can lead to an anaphylactic shock.
The nearest primary care facility is in Radal, 15 kilometres to the W, but if in trouble, the rangers will take you there immediately, or radio to ask for the ambulance.
Prevention is easy: these animals get out at dusk to hunt for mosquitoes and spiders, so put on shoes or sandals when stepping on fallen leaves, do not handle logs, leaves or fallen things without looking under them first, check inside your shoes and inside sleeping bags before using them, don't leave clothing thrown on the ground and always use the no-see-um door of your tent.
And, whatever it does, please, do not kill the animal: you are the invader of its space, not him invading yours.
Written Aug 20, 2006
In any season, but mostly in summer, sun rays are a serious hazard, either due to dehydration and heat, and because of the heavy UV-B radiation that affects this part of the world due to the widening of the hole in the ozone layer after the corruption on it caused by industrial chemicals emanated in the northern hemisphere.
Staying unprotected for just 15' under the Sun at 3 PM, can lead to a heavy and painful sunburn, so the first time you should do in the morning, is to put on a good sunblock cream (suntan oil is NOT a good idea), preferably a SPF 50 or upper,
I am whiter than the Chilean average, although my skin has become tanner after spending years in the outdoors, and I use a SPF 80 or SPF 100 ISDIN brand gel sunblock, which is good to wear for a long time while sweating or in activity wearing sunglasses (it is easier to clean off, it doesn't feel like a "plaster" and does not get sticky).
Most people here use SPF 50-60, and nowadays is harder to find SPF factors lower than 35 in the local market, and for the next summer a SPF 120 is announced.
Anyway, after a few hours in the sun with this protection on, I need to apply it again.
Bring a lightweight hat with neck protection, or buy one here (every sports shop has a good selection) for around US$ 15.
ISDIN 80 gel sunblock is around US$ 25-30 in Chilean pharmacies.
Written Aug 20, 2006
In summer, the lower area of Parque Inglés (those near the bus stop, where "everybody" hangs around) turns into a 24-hour open-air bar, with many "customers" drinking beyond their ability to recall who they are. Sometimes, they quarrel and (very) eventually, they get violent, although rarely against other people than their own drinking chaps.
When things turn nasty, the rangers make a radio call to the police and they come hastily.
Stay clear of drunken people, avoid to get drunk yourself anywhere, and everything will go OK.
Note that drunken people is not allowed in the CONAF premises, either the visitor's centre or the camping area, and that they are required to leave the protected area if drunk, with no entry ticket refund. They can also be banned from the park, at ranger's discretion.
Written Aug 20, 2006