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Aruba, Jamaica, ooo I wanna take ya down to Cochamo!

Oh my god, I hate it when a stupid song gets stuck in your head.  Especially when you know ALL the lyrics by some senseless osmosis force to the inane song.  Such was the case with me & ‘Kokomo’.  How does that happen?  It’s not like I ever purchased the Beach Boys single  ‘Kokomo’ and listened to it over and over thus memorizing the lyrics.  But somehow it happened.  And when we met some travelers that inevitably mispronounced the name of the town “Cochamo” (which is correctly pronounced Co-cha (like cha cha) mo), I had that stupid Beach Boy song stuck in my head!  Aruba, Jamaica ooo I wanna take ya… Kokomo!!  Ugh…of all songs!

The travelers raved about the place which of course led me to do numerous google searches.  I discovered that they dubbed Cochamo ‘the Yosemite of Chile’.  Hmmm….I am always leary of descriptions like that but I was curious.  The photos of the grey granite revealed that it did indeed resemble the high peaks of granite in Yosemite.  I wasn’t so sure but I was provoked enough to decide to go.

Cochomo valley the so-called 'Yosemite of Chile'

Cochomo valley the so-called ‘Yosemite of Chile’

After Chiloe we spent one more night in Puerto Montt in the place that felt like grandma’s house.  It was tough saying goodbye to ‘grandma’.  After all we spent 10 days total there!  We took some last photos and said our goodbyes.  I’ll really miss her fresh sheets, apple empanandas & fresh fruit salad.

saying goodbye to 'grandma' in Puerto Montt

saying goodbye to ‘grandma’ in Puerto Montt

We took the bus to the tiny town of Cochamo and from there we took a ‘taxi’ to the trailhead that would take us deeper in to the grey granite to this alleged ‘Yosemite of Chile’.  The taxi was actually the back of someones pick-up.  I had flashbacks of the Carretera Austral but it was all good.  We shared the taxi with a couple from Norway and a girl from Spain who were so friendly and kind, we all decided to walk together.  To get to the grey granite you have to walk for about 5 to 6 hours on a trail that is really more of a trench.

walking in the trenches

walking in the trenches

I mean, I half expected to have dirt thrown on me at any moment, or see some bodies piled on top of each other.  These were deep trenches with earth walls higher than me!  The trail was used by gauchos and farmers for hundreds of years and it showed!  Horse shit lined the way, which was actually a blessing.  It was easy to get lost & the shit let you know you were on the right track.  And then there was  mud.  Lots of mud.  I hoped it would be worth it.  It was literally a trudge in there!  We finally saw the sign:

getting close!

getting close!

Finally we reached the Cochamo river that we had to cross by pushing each other (and pulling) across a pulley system. Although being the ferry man and pulling people in was tiring, the ride over was fun!  All river crossings should be this enjoyable.

First you had to get a push by our 'ferry man'

First you had to get a push by our ‘ferry man’

then you got to ride across the river

then you got to ride across the river

And there was the valley!  Totally worth the hike in.

_IMG2523

We reached the refugio (a shelter where you can eat & sleep) that had been built in this valley called La Junta.

refugio Cochamo

refugio Cochamo

If you are planning a trip here, definitely check out their super informative website, it’s packed full of information.  The refugio was beautifully situated in the heart of the valley and it was surrounded by mountains of pure grey granite.  And it indeed resembled Yosemite!

_IMG2437But Cochamo had a magic all of its own.  The granite walls made it a climbers paradise but there were also tons of hiking trails in the area.  The woods surrounding the granite were like bright green rainforests complete with huge alerce trees.

trees dripping with moss, very reminiscent of north California or Oregon

trees dripping with moss, very reminiscent of north California or Oregongiant old alerce trees (like Sequoias)

giant old alerce trees (like Sequoias)

We spent two nights there but I could have easily spent a month.  We were lucky to have a great group of people staying in the Refugio when we were there too.

The water was so pure & clear:

IMG_6776

this was just one of many waterfalls in the area

this was just one of many waterfalls in the area

And the views and the lighting of the granite during sunset were a treat:

the granite domes at sunset

the granite domes at sunset

The fire was always going in the refugio which made it real cozy. There was also a huge porch where you could just relax with a beer (yes, they sell beer!) after a day of hiking. Or eat Nutella with a spoon:

Laurent doing what he does best

Laurent doing what he does best

They have a kitchen available for guests to use or you could buy tasty vegetarian meals cooked by the friendly staff.

I really wish we had more time here but we reluctantly headed back through the trenches filled with mud & horse shit.  This time we knew it was worth it.  I felt kind of sad but heard a far off tune in my head….Aruba, Jamaica…ooo I want to take ya…..down to Cochamo, we’ll get there fast and then we’ll take it slow….I sang it out loud this time.  Somehow I didn’t mind so much anymore.

hope to return here someday!

hope to return here someday!

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3 Comments Post a comment
  1. Nathalie #

    Once more a place where I would like to be !!! But do they have phone or internet ? I don’t think so ..
    Sorry Joanna, I don’t share your point of you when you are saying that what Laurent does best, is not really eating Nutella .. Regarding to me it is taking amazing pictures and making them much more beautiful with some light treatments !!!!!
    But in fact I do not know Laurent as you do ….

    March 30, 2013
  2. Jaclyn #

    Hooray! So happy that we met at this magical place in a little pocket of Patagonia. I’ll never forgot the tiny little kitchen where you all taught me to eat radishes with butter. I was drunk in nature that whole weekend!!!

    January 3, 2015
  3. Hi Jaclyn! This was definitely one of our favorite places while traveling and we really hope to go back one day. It was made extra special and unforgettable because of people like you and your friend! I remember the radishes with butter (so French!) and playing Uno by candlelight. Drunk in nature is a good way of putting it. Absolutely stunning area. Hope you are well!

    January 6, 2015

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