We decided to go with natural wonders over wine and we were well rewarded at las Siete Tazas national park, near the town of Radal. We drove north from Talca to Molina, and east into the mountains for 30 km. About 20 km of that was unpaved but relatively level.
Part way along I saw parrots flying overhead. We stopped just as a whole flock perched in a tree across the road. They were burrowing parrots, or loro tricahue, cyanoliseus patagonus, an endangered species. There are flocks of these parrots in several places in Chile, but generally they are endangered by habitat loss and theft of chicks for the pet trade.
The first scenic spot inside the park is La Vela de La Novia (Bridal Veil) falls, at a pullout along the road. It turned out to be spectacularly beautiful.
Onward to the Siete Tazas, a series of waterfalls that have each carved a basin one below the next. You cannot get all seven in a photo, but you get the idea. The severe earthquake in 2010 changed the waterfalls. For a year the siete tazas were completely dry. The water returned but is not as abundant as it was before 2010. I’ve seen a photo of the waterfall in 2000 and each basin is overflowing with water, now the basins are not quite full and the water flows out a single chute. The theory presented is that the earthquake opened up a fissure that diverted some of the water.
We headed for home, slowed slightly by a stray donkey in the road. He was not very interested in moving.