Day 4: Laguna Cisnes & Raices

Today we opted for two half-day hikes, so we were able to sleep in a little later for a 9AM start. It was raining when we awoke, but by the time we enjoyed our usual breakfast, the weather was turning nice. Mica was our guide again and we set off for the hike, leaving right from the lodge.


Our hike was called Laguna Cisnes, or Swan Lagoon. We walked up and along a path that took us to the shore of the lake. Along the way, we found various types of mushrooms on the ground and as parasites on trees. As we headed into a more forested area, we listened to bird calls and spotted a carpinterito, a small variety of woodpecker in the area. Mica also pointed out the types of bushes that pumas use for shelter as well as mushrooms along the trail.

So much for that rainy weather prediction

Mica and all the Explora guides are BIG fans of fungi

Ms. Carpinterito hard at work

Confirming identity (the red splash is for the males)

We made it to the shore of Laguna Cisnes and saw flamingos and great grebes. The black neck swans that sometimes are found here did not grace us with their presence. While the view at the shore was nice, Mica suggested we head further up to a lookout. She was right — it was a better view from above.

Swan Lake lookout

Swan Lake (and Raices area way in the background)

Swan Lake with some blue skies

After a coffee and muffin break at the top, the sun started to come out and illuminate the lake with blues and greens. We took the same route back to the lodge and passed two big families of guanacos. This hike totaled 5.3 miles and 800 feet of elevation.

What goes up Swan Lake lookout must come down

Before starting our afternoon hike, we had time to eat lunch and relax. The family of guanacos made their way closer to the lodge and we could see them while we ate way too much food.

Our guide for the afternoon was Laura. Greg, the manager of the explorations, was our driver. The trailhead for Raices, meaning roots, was about 15 minutes away. Laura told us about the development of the park and surrounding area, including the fact that the roads were developed in the 80s. Also, as part of the conservation effort, all cows were removed. However, some ranchers bring their cows over for some free grass. If caught, they have to pay a fine, but that doesn’t seem to deter them. We made it to the lookout point of Laguna Pepa and took a break while we took in the views.

Start of afternoon Raices hike (Laguna Edita)

Mam! I found one of your feathers

So there are still renegade cows in the park…

Group shot with our guide Lau above Laguna Pepa

Laura suggested that rather than return on the same trail, we take a slightly different route that continues through the forest and passes lagoon Edita as it meets up with the road. Along the way, she told us about Daniel, a man who lives in the park and has a unique connection with the huemules, the endangered Andean deer. He is able to approach the deer in order to help track and care for them. He is basically the Tom Bombadil of huemules.

Hike is called Raices (aka. Roots) because there are forests

Finishing the hike along the road

Celebrity sighting! Daniel the deer guru (passenger seat)

We made it back to the trailhead where Greg was waiting for us with refreshments. The hike was a nice 3.5 miles with 775 feet of elevation gain. Once back at the hotel, Laura helped us pick our exploration for tomorrow: the highly recommended Lago Chico.

Renegade cow

Guanacos outside our lodge door for evening grazing

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