Photo: Journey to the centre of the earth.... the Navidad crater
A cloudy start and a relaxing morning. As lunchtime loomed we were getting hungry, so headed down to the village centre to fill out stomachs. From here we headed into the Reserva Nacional Malalcahuello to see the Crater Navidad (Christmas Crater) so named because it erupted on Christmas day 1988.
We first headed down the gravel road as it wound between the lava fields with impressive views over the volcanoes in the area including: Lonquimay. Lanin, Talhuaca, Llaima & the smoking Copahue. After taking in the sights we headed back to the start of the short trail to the Navidad crater deciding to follow the footprints of others instead the marked trail. We headed across the lower slopes of the Lonquimay volcano covered in dark volcanic ash (rough sand-like material), a short sharp ascent up the side of the crater and followed the trail round the crater rim. We passing areas where steam was rising from the ground and dropping down to the centre of the crater where there was an impressive hole which swallowed anything thrown into it including all the rocks we threw in, taking about 3 seconds to reach the bottom...
We headed back to the car via the official route, returned to Malalcahuello for some filling fried food then crawled into our tent early as the clear skies caused the night time temperatures to drop.
Navidad (Christmas) crater is a parasitic pyroclastic cone of the Lonquimay volcano. It was called this because it started to take form on December 25th 1998. The eruption initiated from a fissure on the ground and lasted 13 months. The cone is located on the north-eastern flank of the Lonquimay Volcano and from its base it reaches 190m high. It is formed by a scoria of different size and shapes. It opens towards the north east, where the lava flow descended and reached more than 10 km long and up to 60 meters in thickness.