NileGuide Expert Says:
National park in the coastal range, for hiking in cooler weather without extreme temperatures.
Parque Olmue, Olmue
tel: (0)33 443 755
NileGuide Expert tip:
Come early if you'd like to hike to the top of La Campana, the wardens will warn you away if you get there after 10:00.
Because they're much smaller than the Andes, the mountains that make up the coastal range often get short shrift. However, one of them, Cerro La Campana has captured tourists' attention for years, and even Charles Darwin summitted it, in 1834. The national park La Campana has only been around since the 60s, but every year, serious (and not so serious) hikers take a peek inside and see what this park has to offer.
It is called La Campana due to one of its taller peaks (1828 meters), which looks like a bell. This hike is the most difficult, and you will only be allowed to try for the summit if you arrive early (before 10 AM), so that you can be sure to make it down before nightfall. The footing is tricky past the end of the road, with loose rocks being common.
The other part of the park, which is famous because it holds one of the last palm forests of central zone, is called "Palmas de Ocoa" and is accessed from another side of the park for an easy walk among the palm trees.
The park comprises 8,000 hectares, and is most easily accessed from Olmué, where buses leave hikers close to the park's entry (for access to La Campana). Holly-like forests are the norm (except for the palm section) and there is a wide variety of wildlife, including foxes, rabbits, lizards, toads, spiders, butterflies, and even pumas (though these are rarely seen).
Campsites are available, though many people come just for the day.