Arriving at a place under starlight and awaking to find what the night kept secret until morning is one of my greatest pleasures. Such was my first experience with Valle de los Condores near Paso Pehuenche, east of Talca, Chile.
The name of this valley alone evokes sweeping landscapes, high mountains and altitudes. As a rock climber, I was giddy with the amount of climbing opportunities on the dense basalt rock formations. In one area: smooth and angular reddish rock, flecked with lichen, split by varying depths and widths of cracks. In another: columns of grayish basalt, coated with calcite, rough to the touch. And even more climbing around the curves and bends of the canyon. All this in an incredible setting, despite the large hydroelectric project blighting the wildness.
As spring starts its transition to summer at the end of October, the waterfalls gush and the rivers swell. The ground comes alive with green and yellow and red from the grass and flowers. More and more rock is revealed from its snowy cover. The wind whips up-valley and the birds playfully soar in the currents. At just the right light and just the right moment, rainbows dash across the waterfalls.
When the moon makes its early evening traverse across the sky, the night becomes illuminated by infinite starlight, with nothing to drown out its brilliance (save for the brights of the hydro project...and the lingering coals of your asado).
Though perhaps not a stopping destination exclusively sought by the travelers along Ruta Internacional CH-115, Valle de los Condores should not be overlooked.
To get to Valle de los Condores/Paso Pehuenche:
Valle de los Condores is accessed by traveling along Ruta Internacional CH-115. One can take a bus to Talca from Santiago; but there is no major bus-line other than private tour operators that run from Talca east towards the pass.