‘Cow Frontation at Dawn’



LA Capana National Park, Chile

November  2008

La Campana is one of Chile’s best known national parks located about an hour and a half north of Santiago on ruta 5.  It also accessible from Vina del Mar.

Fog at Dawn added a sense of tranquilty as a mare and her colt grazed in a pasture.

As is my habit when I do these day trips, I get up about 4:30 and get on the road by 5.  I enjoy having the road to myself, though the morning fog is certainly a challenge to drive in and in Chile often times so are the directions to various locations.

I knew I had to get off Ruta 5 at Ocoa. There is even a clear sign saying “ salida La Campana,” but when I came off the freeway I ran into this street …not exactly inspiring much confidence or providing guidance as which way to go.

Nothing like clear directions when you get off the interstate.

 Luckily as I stopped to take the photo, a local Huaso comes out of the fog from a dirt path on his horse on the way to work  and assured me I was on the right road.

Huasos of La Campana packed for the market

The exchange with the Huaso went like this: 

Huaso: ‘ Drive down past Don Pedro´s and turn right’  (that´s Provisiones Don Pedro on the left in the photo above.) 

 Rolando:  ‘Turn Right where?’

Huaso: ‘ Turn right where you can turn right.’


Rolando: ‘ How long before I get to the  turn?


Huaso: ‘   ‘That depends on how fast you drive. ‘ Then he tips his hat and goes on.


He was right, there is only one right turn and eventually I spotted the sign and turned right.  It wasn´t long before I was on the a beautiful two lane country road arched with trees.

 Part of the reason for the early starts is to be there while the birds and wildlife are moving around.  Being there as dawn is breaking provides photo opportunities of all kinds.  You never quite know what you are going to see. Perhaps a field shrouded in early morning mist.  














When I stopped to get the shots of the horses, the air was thick with the wonderful aroma of wood burning stoves and fireplaces.  What really got me was a cacophony of roosters from across the valley egging one another. It reminded me of waking up at Abuelita Conchita’s when I was a kid.


As I said you never what you’ll find on the road at dawn.   Today I ran into a maverick herd of cows that had made a break for it from their pasture leading to the Cow-Frontation at Dawn.  In the first shot you can just see the farmer in the background with his arms up in the air.   

The Get Away  

First the lead cow sees my car and decides to block my path.


In the next shot the cows are  looking back as if to see if the farmer and his dogs were gaining on them.


As the farmer gets closer, the cows try to make another break for it.

When the dogs and the farmer arrive, the lead cow is not happy and makes it clear to the dogs.























Eventually, the dogs herded the cows back to the pasture and all without any injuries to the cows or the dogs.
























Just before I got to the park, I happen to see a new born colt wobbling on uncertain legs while his mom gave him his first bath.  Not a sound anywhere except for roosters, bird calls and an occasional neigh from the mare.



La Campana is known  for abundant flora and fauna, the signature pant is Chilean Palm… which is everywhere even lining the top of the mountains which today were covered in varying degrees of fog.



While there is camping, this is mostly a hikers park, though there are horseback tours and day trips available.  This Huaso was leading a group of riders up the moutian.


 On one of the various trails I realized that I was being watched…by a wary coyote. 

We stared at one another for about 15 minutes before he went deeper into the woods where I could  not get a good photo of him.  About ten minutes later, up another trail I spooked some California Quail who waddled away from me.  



They were introduced to the country in about 1870 and have flourished here. Some bird experts thinks there are more California Quail here than in there are in the states. 















 Some of the other birds that I saw were  Rufous Collard sparrows.




















 The ever present Queltehues:








 And a Diuca Fincand finally varied flora :

















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