Hermano Grande

in Pucón, Chile

After our successful hike to the Araucaria, Hector gave us a few options, one of which was a "more jungly waterfall hike" — after the dry heat of the previous day we were all loving the sound of waterfalls.

We took off, bouncing shoulder to shoulder in his 4-wheeler as we drove toward a small piece of land he owned. The land is still undeveloped, but on its edge runs a river containing a series of waterfalls.

His property only contains about 30 feed of the riverfront, but the neighbors are friendly and don't mind too much if you go on a hike. The sun was very high as we began walking, and the water took on a brilliant green as the sun cut deep into the water.

We had fun checking out the first few as we walked along the river and even jumped into the pool of Hermano Chico. Although it was slow-flowing there, it was still a thrill because the water leads to ever-bigger waterfalls, but there were lots of branches to grab onto after jumping so we went for a cold plunge to beat the heat.

The dip was nice, but Hector urged us to keep walking as the grand spectacle took a little bit of a hike, and he wasn't positive where it was by the trail alone. He'd been there once before though, and promised it would be worth it.

We scurried down some paths, clearing them with some shears we'd brought as we meandered toward our goal. A couple times we had to back-track, but we found a couple signs marked Hermano Grande which helped guide us.

Until finally we came to the big one.

This thing was enormous. Loud. Wet from spray. And it had really done a number on the rocks that had been in its way. The stone we sat on was so smooth it was shiny, a product of endless, swift-flowing water over the eons.

The best we could figure, there was a whirlpool forming the rock over time. The tunnel the water created had distinct directional lines, suggesting water had spiraled about this cavity for quite a long time until it finally bore through the rock to create the world's biggest firehose.

It was quite overpowering to stand near it. The noise was disorienting, not to mention the scale of the hole and the danger your body warned you about when you got near enough to peer into the dark vortex. Nevertheless we all laid on our stomachs and got the best look we could into this pit of watery doom.

We hung out for over an hour, enjoying the scene and exploring a bit, and thought that was the end of it. But as we started back we found one more sign that said Sendero La Roca, and someone mentioned that when we were up at the top, they'd seen a big rock that could have been a really great sitting spot.

We dropped our bags so we could move faster, and made a very quick zig-zag descent down the steep trail, switching back about every 50 meters until we made it to the rock. And what a treat it was!

Even Hector had not come this far, so we all experienced this view of the waterfall for the first time together. It was absolutely stunning! The pictures just can't capture the raw power you could feel coming from this waterfall.

It felt quite special seeing a hidden, unknown waterfall, especially after being on the packaged and polished waterfall tour we took a few days previous. This one had no marked trail, no fence or rails, and absolutely no way of getting help if something went wrong. That, combined with the awesome display of power by mother nature made the hike feel quite satisfying.

We actually ended the day by going to more thermal baths up in the mountains. The owner was a friend of Hector's — an american named Daniel-san — and he let us come in for a night swim despite closing at 8pm. He gave us all hugs because according to him "you never know if it's you last chance to get a hug" — given where we'd just been it was sound advice!

We washed away the aches of hiking in the natural thermal pools, floating on our backs and counting shooting stars as the Milky Way hung above us.