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Refugio El Volcan

July 28, 2006

Yesterday Paul and I took an adventurous ride and hike to Refugio El Volcan, an isolated valley nestled in the midst of forested volanco necks that reach up to 2,000 feet at the foot of the Andes.  We arranged a ride through Forest Tours, which contracted a cab driver/guide named Maximo for us.  Maximo drove us the 2 1/2 hours from the city and to the top of one of the peaks, from which we hiked down into the valley for an afternoon of relaxing in hammocks, soaking in waterfalls, and eating sweet lemons from a tree along the road into/out of the refugio; Maximo even changed into shorts and took a dunk in the falls along with us! 


The view from the valley, which we had entirely to ourselves, was exceptional:  from our perch on the cabana hammocks, where we took a post-lunch siesta, we gazed up at magnificent red-rock volcano necks topped with fuzzy green trees and shrubbery, with fluffy white cumulus clouds whipping over the peaks in the quick lowland air current that makes Santa Cruz a perpetually windy city. 


Our hike out took a record 1 hour and 15 minutes according to our guide, who informed us that the expected duration is 2 hours.  In a few days, when we are in the southern altiplano (“high plain”) of the Andes, we may find ourselves less capable of such speedy trekking–we shall see.


Until then…

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