Contributed by Alan S. Tracey
Location: Region Metropolitana
Round trip: Varies
Start elevation: 2670 m
Final Elevation: 3700 m
Maps: Atlas Caminero de Chile
From the centre of Santiago find the main thoroughfare, Alemeda Bernardo O’Higgins, which runs east-west through the city. Follow this eastwardly through several name changes: Avenida Providencia, Av. Apoquinda then finally Av. Las Condes. Remain on Av. Las Condes until nearing the end of the urban area. Watch for the road veering to the right immediately before a Shell Gasoline Station.
PARTIAL PLANT LIST
The Andes stretch the full length of Chile, about 4,200 km so, not unexpectedly, there is a huge variation in the flora throughout Chile, not only in a north/south direction, but also vertically. The northern half of Chile is characterized by desert and semi-desert. The desert cacti and shrubs are replaced by an alpine flora at high elevations. Further south, the desert gives way to the Valdivian rainforest with its araucarias and a variety of nothofagus species at higher elevations up to tree line.
La Parva sits in an intermediate position within these two extremes of latitude. It is about 40 km east of Santiago at an elevation of 2670 m above sea level. There are 40 switchback turns on the road to La Parva as it winds its way upward toward the town of Farellones which is 5 km from La Parva. Cactus, oxalis, schizanthus, mutisia and numerous other plants should be looked for along the route.
La Parva receives about 8 m of snow over the winter and is a ski destination. In the summer, the town is virtually deserted. The ski lifts have a vertical elevation gain of almost 1000 m but they do not operate in the summer. This is just as well for those interested in the flora of this region since many species are located below or within this vertical range with a few unique plants found only at higher elevations. Alstromerias, calceolarias, oxalis, rhodophialas, calandrinias, violas and numerous other plants can be found throughout this area. Hiking anywhere in the area surrounding La Parva is not restricted.