The wood-fired hot tub at Hosteria Los Quenes.

When I first moved to Chile from Spain at the end of 2009, I looked online for information about what to do around Curicó and the Maule region. I’m still looking…. there’s not much info out there! So thanks, Todd, for starting the Chilean Adventures blog and for letting me contribute some posts about my own family’s adventures (and mis-adventures) here.
My husband and I love hiking and exploring in the mountains, so when we first moved to Chile we were really excited to be so near the Andes, and we figured we’d be out hiking, camping and fly fishing most weekends. It seemed simple: the peaks are right there, just outside my window, and I know there’s endless wild, virgin territory to explore. There aren’t many good maps to this part of the Cordillera though, and we didn’t know of any specific trails, so we asked around about where to go to see some beautiful scenery. Several people told us the same thing: go to Los Queñes. Perfect.
According to our Chile guidebook (the long and skinny ChileTur book you can buy at Copec gas stations, the most detailed guide I’ve found so far, though it’s only available in Spanish) Los Queñes is a ‘balneario’. In Spain, a balneario is a spa. ‘Cool!’ we thought. ‘There are probably hot springs or something.’ So we made the 40-minute drive up to Los Queñes, crossed the bridge over the Río Claro, where plenty of people were cooling off in the chilly water, and drove straight through town (which took about half a minute). We didn’t see anything like a spa or hot spring or anything. So we turned around and drove through again. We asked someone where the balneario was and he pointed to the other side of the river.
We must have driven back and forth 5 times looking for the balneario before we realized that the ‘spa’ we were imagining was simply some stone steps leading down to the swimming hole in the river. Mystery solved!
I was pregnant at the time and we had our toddler with us, so we ended up just walking around and taking some pictures instead of swimming in the river. It is a pretty spot. Afterwards we headed to the Hostería Los Queñes for a swim in their pool (which also has some gorgeous mountain views) and a yummy lunch – our first taste of the classic Chilean dish plateada (a very tender pot roast with thick gravy). Like so many things we’ve done in Chile, our first day in Los Queñes wasn’t exactly like we were expecting, but it turned out to be a really fun experience. Plus, we got to meet Todd and Marcela! Icing on the cake.

Natural hot springs at Termas de Azufre - across the Argentinian border from Los Quenes, Chile.

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