maule

solar PV – Wincayaren Hostal

solar PV – Wincayaren Hostal 150 150 Abby

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We worked in collaboration with Jorge, from Parque Educativo Solar, to provide Wincayaren Hostal with a solution for their electricity generation. Jorge installed two solar panels on their roof, along with an inverter to provide AC electricity for the whole building. The two panels mean that that hostel’s electricity bills are zero due to surplus electricity generation being fed back into the grid*.

*the panels generate large amounts of surplus electricity during the day in Summer months, this is fed into the grid and causes the electricity meter to become negative. At night and on cloudier days the hostal does use electricity from the grid, however over time their net usage is negative on the meter, more electricity is being put into the grid than taken out so they aren’t charged anything.

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Wincayaren is a lovely eco-hostel located in Linares, a charming city that sits at the base of the Andes. Find out more about staying there on the website: www.hostalwincayaren.cl

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Parque Educativo Solar Energy

Parque Educativo Solar Energy 150 150 Abby

Based nearby in Linares is Parque Educativo Solar, established by Jorge. What started as a backyard project has morphed into a full on Sustainability Education Centre, providing solar energy workshops and products for both local people and international visitors.

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The Centre showcases a variety of low-tech uses of the endless sun’s rays, as well as simple installations using PhotoVoltaic (PV) solar panels to generate electricity. Wandering through the Park there are an array of indigenous trees like the Quillay, Peumo, and  Araucana, plus a circle of tree stumps surrounded by lavender for a moment of calm. See below for more info on the dehydrator, on-grid and off-grid solar systems and eco-toilet.

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On-grid: This double solar panel installation is connected to an inverter (in the red box) that converts the DC electricity produced by the PV cells into AC for use in the house. Jorge generates all the electricity he needs in this way, and most days has surplus which he supplies back to the grid. This means he has no electricity bill and, after the law changes in the next year, the energy companies will be paying him for the electricity he puts into the grid.

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Off-grid: There is a PV solar panel connected to a Dankoff slow pump which pumps the water up from his well into the storage tank above.

Dehydrator & Solar Oven: Jorge has made many of these dehydrators for people in the Maule Region, they effectively retain heat and provide ample ventilation for optimal dehydration.

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The organic seedbank is an invaluable store of seeds from organic plants grown locally.

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The eco-toilets use Vetiver grasses to clean the water from the toilet after the solids have been removed.

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and of course there are plenty of hammocks for relaxing…

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wonder hikes

wonder hikes 150 150 Abby

We recently did the one day hike, Cascada del Arcoiris, offered by Frank of Costa y Cumbre Tours. It was a wonderful day following a cowboy trail through the vast landscape of the Andes, the trail is a hidden gem with not a soul in sight and multiple huge waterfalls, one of which we swam in. Wildly remote and with dominating scenery this is an incredible journey – we recommend Frank’s tours highly. He specialises in journeys that are off the beaten trail and have a little something extra special, check out his website for more info and details of the many different hikes he offers. Hopefully we will head to the sand dunes in Constitución next.

 

The Cordillera

The Cordillera 150 150 Christiane

Rising before dawn has its merits. In under two hours we had parked not far from the Argentine border and were high up in the Andes beginning our trek along the Maule River in the cool of morning. Above the tree line in a barren basalt landscape, the unusual spikey rock outcroppings have names likening them to ‘Muela de Diabolo’ the ‘Devil’s Molar’. Widely varying colours in the rocky landscape, reveal the degrees of heat and composition of volcanic origin.  Tufts of pampas grass cover the ground and little surprises of vibrant purple, yellows, oranges, pinks come from the wildflowers surviving in this dry antipodean mid-summer.

As the day heats up we’re cooled by the sound of the rushing Maule at our side as we snake ever higher along the path to find the ‘hidden waterfall‘  promised in the description on Frank’s website. Transplanted from a small village in Germany, our guide Frank is married to a Chilean and has established his popular trekking company in Talca (40 minutes from Fundo Meza). As it turns out there are several hidden waterfalls – some so huge their thunder reaches you before their clear turquoise and white froth registers. One of the beauties of this once molten basalt landscape is that it gives off no sediment and the waters run so clear.

By mid-day we reached the base of a most spectacular waterfall and Frank set out our picnic lunch amongst some large boulders.  The six trekkers enjoyed our break in front of this magnificent wall of water, listening to Frank’s tales of watching young Condors learning to fly from the top of the waterfall, being coaxed and overseen by their parents—who we suppose were ready to swoop and catch their fledglings if they faltered.

Our next stop is at the top of a cascada where we can cool off in the small pool that swirls around before sending its water over the edge. Not as dangerous as it sounds! We finished our hike traversing over a field of basalt back to the van. Our route home was back down the newly completed (two months) Paso Pehuenche, that crosses over the Andes between Chile and Argentina from Talca. 

Altos de Lircay National Reserve

Altos de Lircay National Reserve 150 150 Joy

The Altos de Lircay national reserve is one of the finest in central Chile, and is just a 2 hour drive from Fundo Meza. The reserve boasts 12,163 hectares with multiple trekking routes,  exhilarating mountain scenery, and a strong Conaf infrastructure for camping sites, route details, and registration. The 2 treks below are just a sample of the vast array that the park has to offer

Travel: Altos de Lircay National Reserve can be reached by car or bus. It is 125 km from Fundo Meza (a 2 hour drive). Alternatively, you can get a bus from Talca bus terminal to Vilches Alto, where the final stop is the entrance to the reserve. The bus costs between 3,500-5,500 pesos depending on the service you take, and takes 1hour 30 minutes from Talca. Return buses to Talca depart from Vilches Alto at 0700, 0900, 1200, 1400 and 1800, but it is best to check at the Conaf hut what time the final bus leaves, as this schedule can change.

Accommodation: There are several camping sites throughout the reserve. When you enter, ask for a map and details at the Conaf hut. There are also a limited number of hostels in Vilches Alto, at the entrance to the reserve, if camping doesn’t take your fancy.

Entry fee: Most national reserves and national parks in Chile have a small entry fee, to be paid when you register with the Conaf at the park entrance. They are usually extremely helpful and readily offer advice on routes, camp sites, and weather conditions, so be sure to ask plenty of questions! Altos de Lircay costs 3,500 pesos for a non-Chilean (2,000 for Chilean national), and 600 pesos for a child.

Useful links: Altos de Lircay park website: http://www.altosdelircay.cl

Conaf website: http://www.conaf.cl

 

Visit Maule Region

Visit Maule Region 150 150 Abby

Loncomilla Valley is located in the Maule Region, Region 7, in central Chile.

 

Radal Siete Tazas

Radal Siete Tazas 150 150 Abby

Famous for its seven chained waterfalls, Siete Tazas National Park is located on the aptly named Rio Claro in the Maule Region.

Just two hours from Fundo Meza, it is easy to reach the waterfalls if you walk an hour or two from the car – and they are magnificent, well worth the hike!

A chain of six smaller waterfalls, each with a crystal clear pool, carve through a rocky canyon. The final waterfall has a huge drop into a large icy pool, where you can go for a super refreshing swim.

 

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