Wednesday, April 9, 2014

Magic & Mountain Huts: Refugio Tranquilco

"On private property at the Lago Verde trailhead is a luxe two story lodge offering much more than a bed and a meal and a quiet place to get away from it all - it's an experience...Your host, Patricio, turns out hearty home-style Chilean cuisine with welcome touches, such as French press coffee and an extensive wine list, and is a hellava guy to share a bottle of Carmenere with. Designed by an architect, an engineer, and an Emmy nominated documentary filmmaker, it's the kind of place people lose themselves for a week; and lost souls find their way."
- Lonely Planet Chile
You want to go there too, right?

Occasionally we get really lucky and find not only a special setting, but we find a special home, host, and fellow travelers to share it with for a few days.

Refugio Tranquilco is one such perfect place.

Lots of hours spent on this deck

Pretty cool windows lighting up the cathedral living area

The living room, mural and all

Located in Parque Nacional Huerqueque, the refugio is 2k past the park entrance with easy access to hiking trails.

We had four nights and two full days and enjoyed perfect weather as we hiked the most well known trails in the park, Los Lagos and San Sebastian. Both were great walks but you especially couldn't beat the views from the summit of San Sebastian where you could see 8 volcanoes in the distance .

Volcanoes and mountains for days

Our new friends Antony and Emma shared this one of us in the distance

But we remember this place for much more than the clear, blue skies or nice, long hikes.

It is hard to describe the experience. Our first night there were two other couples staying. Both couples were Chilean and good friends of Patricio's. It it felt like we were at an intimate dinner party. As they caught up we happily sat on the sidelines enjoying wine and good food and talking to another couple (from Switzerland and Bolivia) who had stopped in for dinner. After dinner, came music as Patricio and his son both sing and play guitar. At 1a we said our goodnight.

"Did you dream last night?," Patricio asked me the next morning as we sat down to breakfast outside. Thus began the conversation of why we dream, what our dreams tell us, and how Patricio feels he found greater peace and deeper understanding with himself and in life by taking more time to listen to and acknowledge his dreams.

On our second night we were joined by Anthony and Emma, a couple from South Africa and England on their own year-long adventure. They were coming from Patagonia (the direction we were heading) so they offered good insight and we shared stories and thoughts on our travels thus far.

Patricio truly is the host here. Each evening we would sit down to deliciously prepared meals and eat, drink and talk as the evening turned to night. Patricio offers fascinating insight and a unique perspective into Chilean history and current politics. He is a modern day philosopher as well, probing us about happiness and asking questions most if us do not ask each other- what makes you happy, why people compete, 'real' happiness vs what (perhaps) society teaches us to value, etc. He has strong opinions on some of these matters but the discussion was open and engaging, even if at times we disagreed.

There are three buses from the park, 9a, 1:30p and 5:30p. Our last day we did not plan to hike but still chose to take the last bus. As if by leaving later we could extend the magical stay a bit longer.

With the wood burning stove going all day, we sat down to watch a documentary Patricio produced, about Pinochet's rule and the attempt for justice in the many atrocities that occurred during his reign.

Patricio produced this interesting documentary the quest for justice for Pinochet's victims

We clapped for Patricio, gave him a big hug, and I promised myself to return again someday.

Sad to say goodbye to this special place

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