To start off my second week in Chile, we were given a “free day” so we decided to go trekking in the National Park Huerquehue. Aside from the rain, the trek did not disappoint. We saw beautiful waterfalls, lakes, and a forest full Araucaria, the native Chilean Oak tree. The 6-hour trek through the park then ended with a trip to some nearby natural hot springs to relax our muscles after the long hike!
The first image above is a photo of me in front of one of the waterfalls within the national park. The middle photo above is an image of El Lago Verde, which translates to “The Green Lake,” because of all the trees and forestry that encapsulates the body of water. The rightmost image above depicts the native Araucaria tree, which is valuable because it only grows 1 cm per year.
The following day, we left Pucon and began our journey to the northern part of Chile starting with the city of Antofagasta. Unlike the southern region of Chile, the northern region is very dry due to its proximity to the Atacama Desert. Here, we visited a solar energy plant, where acres of the desert were used to harness solar energy and work towards Chile’s goal of 98% green energy usage by 2050. Later that day, we were also able to visit a university researching the use of molten salt as a form of renewable energy. The molten salt is effective because it can retain heat for extended periods of time and could later be used as thermal energy.
The image above depicts thousands of solar panels readjusting their positions to maximize exposure to the sun.
After visiting the plants pertaining to renewable energy, we then made a stop at the desalination plant to see how the water is cleaned for consumption, which is important because there is a lack of water in the desert. The plant we visited was responsible for desalinating 90% of the water that is consumed in Antofagasta, which was mind-boggling considering how large the city is.
The image above is a picture I took of the desalination plant control room.
The final stop we made in northern Chile is the city of San Pedro. Here, we made a journey through the Valley of the Moon where we witnessed the most beautiful sunset in the whole country. Immediately after sunset, the festivities did not stop as we went stargazing later that night and listened to a native Andean tell the story of how his ancestors view the constellations. This was the conclusion to the second week of the study abroad program and it could not have been more adventurous!
The images above show the beautiful sunset (left) and the breathtaking night sky (right) *keep in mind that these photos are much more amazing in real life.*
The image above is my classmates and I wearing our alpaca sweaters, which is a very popular tourist souvenir.