la campana national park in chile

The Mountains


They say that when the local Picunche shamans received news of the brutal conquest of the Incas and the Spanish obsession with sunstones (gold), the great machi known as Pelumpen decided to hide their gold Temple to the Sun in a remote cave.

It was the season of the rains, however, and the work was very hard. Part of their ‘Rock of the Sun,’ as the temple was known,  sat on fractured stone, which collapsed, sending rays of light into the dark winter night as it fell deep into a subterranean crater.

By the time Pedro de Valdivia’s men came searching for gold, there was nothing to be found – only a strikingly bell-shaped mountain that was henceforth known as Cerro La Campana.

la campana summit in chile
On a clear day, you can see both the Andes and the Pacific Ocean from the summit of La Campana.

Chilean mountaineers have been searching for ‘The Golden Cone’ ever since, but none has found it yet. They dream of finding the cave full of the shamans’ hidden gold. Instead, they more often than not find glittering quartz, and those that dare to sleep in the caves find themselves tormented by hallucinations and nightmares.

The Spanish established gold and copper mines in the area as long ago as the 16th Century, and by the time Charles Darwin passed by, in 1835, he noted the entire area was riddled in drilling sites. Today, once more, the ancient lands officially protected by the National Park are under threat from illegal mining operations, as well as from agricultural activities and dramatic increases in unregulated construction. All are threatening the real treasure for everyone to see: namely the unique beauty and biodiversity of La Campana National Park.


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