Reserva Nacional Río de los Cipreses
Immediately south of El Teniente, rarely visited other than by locals, the forested foothills, rushing rivers, hanging valleys, and volcanic summits of Reserva Nacional de Los Cipreses are grossly underappreciated. Even locals, though, rarely venture beyond the road and picnic areas in the backcountry.
Sights and Recreation
Several sites near park headquarters have petroglyphs; Conaf can provide directions. Near the Ranchillo campground, the Sendero de Excursion Los Peumos is a short nature trail that also passes near small mines from pre-reserve days.
One longer trail, suitable for at least an overnight backpack, climbs the Río de los Cipreses valley to a basic Conaf refugio at Urriola, about 20 kilometers from road’s end; the road itself is gated past Ranchillo, and motorists must get Conaf permission to continue to the trailhead (hikers or cyclists can easily bypass the gate).
Six kilometers south of park headquarters, Conaf’s 35-site Camping Ranchillo (tel. 072/297505, US$8 for up to six people) is the only alternative, but it’s a good one. Sites have picnic tables, barbecues, water, some shade, and there’s even a swimming pool. Bring all food from Rancagua—there’s nothing for sale here.
At the park entrance, Conaf’s Centro de Visitantes collects US$3 admission per person and displays a scale model of the reserve, along with material on flora and fauna. It also has motivated and helpful personnel.
Public transportation goes only as far as Termas de Cauquenes; it’s another 15 kilometers to the park entrance. From Coya, Eudel Wilva (tel. 099/5813910) can shuttle passengers over that distance.
© Wayne Bernhardson from Moon Chile, 2nd edition