Chile Lake Volcano District – Araucanía Andina

araucania andina lake volcano district

La Araucania Andina is located 700 kilometers south from Santiago de Chile. Geographically, this destination is formed by two large mountain areas: the Lonquimay volcano and the Llaima volcano, hence the outstanding volcanic activity of the area. Demographically, the core historical-cultural identity is strongly marked and linked to the original Pewenche people, the first inhabitants of La Araucania Region.

 

araucania andina chile
Map credit: Araucania Andina Travel

 

More than just a destination, it is where starts the famous Lake and Volcano District of Chile. The main natural attraction in this special part of La Araucanía Region is the Kütralkura UNESCO Global Geopark. There, you can witness how the volcanic activity has been shaping for ages the impressive landscapes of southern Chile.

 

araucania andina lake volcano district

 

In this week’s post, you will discover the best natural places to explore in La Araucania Andina.

 

conguillio araucania andina
Conguillio National Park, Araucania Andina (Photo Credit: Chile Lagos y Volcanes)

 

Kütralkura Geopark

 

Area of globally recognized biodiversity, Kütralkura is Chile’s first geopark. With six protected wilderness areas of diverse landscape, 5 volcanoes, and a geological history covering the last 250 million years, it in fact is no surprise that UNESCO declared this outstanding territory the Araucarias Biosphere Reserve in 1983. Dominated by the presence of the Llaima, Sierra Nevada, Lonquimay, Tolhuaca and Nevados de Sollipulli volcanoes, the notable geological features are of mainly volcanic, tectonic and glacier character.

 

llaima volcano sollipulli
Llaima volcano (3.125 meters) from Sollipulli volcano.

 

The richness of the Kütralkura geopark does not solely lie on its natural wonders. But also on its people who play a big part in the culture of this ancestral territory. First inhabitants of Southern Chile, the Pewenche are an indigenous subgroup belonging to the Mapuche community.

Pewenche people take their name from their dependence for food on the seeds of the pewen (pehuen) or monkey-puzzle tree (Araucaria araucana). They consider the Araucaria tree as their Mother and protector.

 

pewenche araucaria
Drinking Yerba Mate has been part of the ancestral tradition of the Mapuche culture since ancient times.

 

It should be noted that the Pewenche have their own cosmovision, social system, and ancestral arts. In addition, they have great knowledge and wisdom related to the use of medicinal plants (known as “Lawen” in their Mother tongue). In Mapudungun, “Kütralkura” means “stone fire”.

 

Tolhuaca National Park

 

tolhuaca volcano chile
Tolhuaca volcano (2.806 meters) and Blanca lagoon.

 

Located on the slopes of the Andes Mountain Range, the Tolhuaca National Park is a spectacular scenery of native flora and fauna. With 6.474 hectares of Monkey puzzle tree (Araucaria araucana) forest, the geological formations shape the characteristic mountainous reliefs of the park. Moreover the presence of the Tolhuaca volcano also highly contributes in this landscape composition.

 

Laguna malleco tolhuaca park
Malleco lagoon, Tolhuaca National Park.

 

In the Tolhuaca National Park, you can easily access Laguna Malleco by a good trail that does not take more than an hour to hike. There, you can walk through a forest of coigües (Nothofagus dombeyi) and araucarias, leading to great views towards the Malleco waterfall. In addition, the hiking trail offers the the opportunity to also visit the Culebra waterfall. 

 

malleco waterfall tolhuaca
Malleco waterfall

 

Conguillio National Park

 

The Conguillio National Park is located in the heart of the Kütralkura Geopark, highlight of Chile’s Lake and Volcano District. Originally, with an area of 60,832 hectares, the Conguillio used to form two different parks: Conguillio National Park and Los Paraguas National Park. Then they merged and formed the current park. 

In Mapudungun, the Mapuche’s native language, the word Conguillio is “Ko-nqilliu”. The meaning is “pine nuts in the water”, or “to settle by the pine nuts” based on the abundance of araucarias (known Monkey puzzle tree) and the existence of lakes surrounding the volcanic area of the park.

 

conguillio llaima volcano
Araucaria trees with the Llaima volcano at sight, Conguillio National Park

 

Among its main attractions, the Llaima volcano (3.200m) stands out the most. Dominating the landscape, the volcano is surrounded by its lakes of volcanic formation and its forests of ancient araucarias. What’s more, the forests of this native tree are 1,200 year-old!

The BBC (British Broadcasting Corporation) refers to the Conguillio National Park as one of the last refuges in the World to preserve the landscape where dinosaurs lived. In this place, the UK’s broadcaster filmed part of the documentary “Walking with Dinosaurs“, more specifically the chapter centered on the Upper Cretaceous: “Death of a Dynasty”.

 

 

 

Our favorite activity to do when visiting the Conguillio National Park is hiking the Sierra Nevada trail, a high volcanic mountain range.  The trail starts near the Conguillio Lake, and crosses a spectacular forest of araucaria trees. During the hike, there are three scenic viewpoints over the lake; the trail culminates in a large open viewpoint, outside with great views over both Llaima volcano and Conguillio lake.

 

Conguillio lake sierra nevada
Conguillio lake from the Sierra Nevada trail.

 

Malalcahuello National Reserve

 

mtb chile
Mountain biking next to Lonquimay volcano (2.865m) and Christmas crater, Malalcahuello National Reserve.

 

 

Located in the northeast part of La Araucanía Region, Malalcahuello is the must-see place to visit in Chile. Indeed, the volcanic and glacial activity of the Lonquimay volcano (2.865 meters) has strongly been shaping the landform of the reserve. With the Christmas crater (cráter Navidad) that completed its last volcanic eruptive process in 1990, the Malalcahuello Reserve is more like a surreal landscape where recent volcanic slags combine with ancient araucaria forests.

 

 

tolhuaca volcano kutralkura geopark chile
Tolhuaca volcano (2.806 meters), Malalcahuello National Reserve

 

As a result of the volcanic geography, the 31.260 hectares stand out for its great diversity of flora and where the native forest manifests in thousands of colors and forms, with streams of crystal-clear waters descending from the Andes mountain range.

From July to mid-October, the Malalcahuello National Reserve is Amity‘s favorite place to be. In effect, the area is best known to be a great host for skiing in Southern Chile. Proof of that are the yearly visits of international ski racing teams training in the Corralco Ski Resort, a world-class destination well-known for its great snow conditions and the exuberant surroundings of Chile’s Lake and Volcano District.

 

ski lonquimay volcano
Skiing in the Malalcahuello National Reserve. Main crater of Lonquimay volcano.

 

On the other hand, during spring and summer (late-October to April), cycling might be the best way to explore Malalcahuello.

 

MTB Malalcahuello
Mountain biking with the Tolhuaca volcano at sight. Photo credit: Evoc Sports.

 

Riding across the reserve surrounded by thousand year-old araucaria trees, with the Lonquimay and Tolhuaca volcanoes at sight, and our MTB is a true travel adventure experience we love to do. More than a bike experience, it is also a great opportunity for a cultural encounter with the Pewenche. Sharing with them their traditions, culture and culinary specialties is the best way to learn about the human side of La Araucania Region.

 

pewenche chile araucania andina
The “cordero al palo” is a whole roast lamb barbecue, offered by the Meliñir family.

 

The Andean ancestral legacy of La Araucania Region: the Pewenche culture

 

In geographical terms, the Pewenche territory encompasses both sides of the Andes mountain range, between the Maule River and the Lonquimay Volcano. Before the arrival of the Spanish settlers, they were hunters and gatherers of pine nuts (piñon, pewen or pehuén), fruit from the araucaria tree that gives the name and essence characteristics of the Pewenche culture. Thanks to this, they elaborate gastronomic products such as pine nut flour, jams, muday (ancestral drink), among others.

 

araucaria tree araucania andina
Piñon, seed of the araucaria tree.

 

It is not without saying that the Pewenche consider the araucaria as a sacred tree thanks to its medicinal properties. Thus, we understand that their ancestral culture is closely related to the natural environment in which they live. Likewise, they maintain a deep bond with their territory of origin. Hence understanding that the land cannot be separated from culture and identity.

 

araucaria tree
Bark of Araucaria tree

 

This intertwined connection explains the tremendous importance of the first inhabitants of La Araucanía Region. Every corner of this Andean territory has a history linked to the processes of the Pewenche through time.

If you are interested in visiting this area, please send us an email to schedule a call with one of our Trip Design experts.

Experience the rich union between the Pewenche ancestral culture and the beautiful nature of Chile’s Lake and Volcano District. Ask about our best active travel adventures and discover the incredible diverse landscape and history of La Araucaria Region.

 

 

lake volcano araucania
Road cycling near Bio-bio river, Araucanía Andina circuit, Chile’s Lake and Volcano Scenic Route.

Ski Chile 2021

ski chile

Skiing in Chile is a unique experience. Located along the Andes mountain range, Chile is a beautiful country full of contrasts, with changing climate and geography. The presence of such natural wonders has allowed the country to be elected the World’s Leading Adventure Tourism Destination since 2016 according to the World Travel Awards.

 

 

chile adventure
Chile has been elected the World’s Leading Adventure Tourism Destination since 2015

 

In addition to be the world’s leading adventure tourism destination, Chile also offers great skiing and snowboarding conditions with excellent snow. From July to mid-October, it is possible to enjoy winter sports in 18 different ski resorts. The most famous are concentrated near the Capital, Santiago de Chile. But, if you are an adrenaline-seeker and love breathtaking landscape while skiing or snowboarding, Chile’s Lake and Volcano District is surely the best place to practice your favorite winter sport in South America.

 

skiing chile
Fresh ski tracks in Huilo-Huilo Biological Reserve

 

As of matter of fact, we can say without a doubt that Chile is a country of volcanoes. Indeed, with no less than 2.900 volcanoes which 80 of them are still active, you can slide over more than one of them.

In this post, you will learn more about Amity’s favorite ski resorts located in Chile’s Lake and Volcano District.

 

Antillanca Ski Resort, Los Lagos Region

 

ski antillanca chile
Antillanca Ski Resort. Puntiagudo and Osorno volcanoes at sight

 

Located approximately 98 km from the city of Osorno, the Antillanca Ski Resort is located in the Puyehue National Park, on the slopes of the Casablanca volcano, near the Puyehue and Aguas Calientes hot springs. This area belongs to the Antillanca volcanic complex.

 

antillanca ski
Skiers in Antillanca Ski Resort

 

The ski resort extends on Haique Hill with heights ranging between 1.040 meters and 1.540 meters above sea level. With a total of 400 hectares of skiable surface, the Antillanca Ski Resort offers 14 marked ski runs of varying difficulty. In total, 32 kilometers of great snow to hit.

 

antillanca chile
Ski slopes Antillanca

 

In addition to the good slopes, Antillanca counts on excellent snow conditions throughout ski season (from July to October). Likewise, the ski center has spectacular cornices for off-piste skiing and extreme descents.

During our adventure skiing tours, we usually go Cat skiing and get as close as possible to the crater of Casablanca volcano, to then skin up with our randonee gear until summiting its massive crater. Then the downhill is amazing, heading towards Raihuen crater, with views of lakes and volcanoes in the distance.

In summary, in Antillanca Ski Resort there is skiing for all tastes and styles. In summer, it is an ideal place for nature lovers who like the practice of adventure tourism.

 

Huilo-Huilo Biological Reserve, Los Ríos Region

 

Located in Panguipulli,  in the middle of the Patagonian Andes, the Huilo-Huilo Biological Reserve mainly focuses on the care and conservation of the native species and the Temperate Rain Forest.

 

ski huilo huilo
Cat Skiing in Huilo Huilo; Lanin volcano at sight.

 

The Huilo Huilo Biological Reserve is located 860 kilometers south of Santiago, in Los Rios Region. This reserve has a little explored ecosystem. In fact, it has a great diversity thanks to its particular geography: lakes of glacial origin, eternal snows on the Mocho and Choshuenco volcanoes, and countless water courses. As a result, the main purpose is the conservation of the native species of the Temperate Rain Forest.

 

cat skiing chile
Bosque Encantando, Huilo huilo Biological Reserve

 

The Bosque Encantado Ski Center is within the biological reserve, at more than 1.000 meters high. Accordingly, it has 3 runs of 1,200, 1,300 and 1,400 meters. And for those who are not so familiar with the white sport, there is also the possibility of trekking with snowshoes, tubing, glaciological tour and snowmobile rides, among others.

In all our adventure skiing and snowboarding tours that include Huilo-Huilo, we go Cat skiing until we reach the glacier plateau. From there, we skin up to Mocho volcano, a 40-minute hike up to summit this “easy” climb. Then we ski down back to the plateau and aim North, towards a much more challenging climb: Choshuenco volcano. You won’t beleive your feet and eyes, as you attack the slopes of this side of the montain.

 

 

Huilo-Huilo is a great place for outdoor activities. Indeed, it is surely one of the most outstanding spots to practice summer skiing in Southern Chile.

 

Pucón Ski Center, La Araucanía Region

 

ski pucon
Pucón Ski Center and the Villarrica Volcano

 

Commonly, when talking about skiing in Chile, the first thing that comes to mind are the ski centers located around the capital, Santiago de Chile. But if you’re really looking for ski adventures mixed with mindblowing landscapes, we highly suggest to go south and check out the volcanoes.

Approximately 785 km south from Santiago de Chile, you can find the world’s capital of adventure travel: Pucón. Located at the foot of Villarrica Volcano (2,847 meters), and the lake of the same name, Pucón is the best place to be for nature lovers. In fact, this quaint little town offers plenty of outdoor activities to do.

 

ski pucon villarrica volcano
Villarrica volcano ascent before the ski descent

 

Pucón Ski Center is located 16 km from downtown Pucón, on the northern slope of Villarrica volcano. Villarrica (or Ruka Pillan) is known to be one of the world’s most active volcanoes, blowing smoke all year round. There, you can enjoy about 30 km of skiable terrain. Likewise, given the fact that you’re sliding down a volcano, you get to marvel at an incredible scenic view of La Araucanía Region.

 

ski map pucon
Ski runs on the Villarrica volcano

 

It should be noted that the Pucón Ski Center is one of the most beautiful in Southern Chile. In fact, it has a certified ski/ boardercross run for skiing and snowboarding, with international teams coming in for “summer trainning”. Pucon offers 9 lifts, and 20 runs for all types of levels. Also, it is a great place for backcountry skiing and snowboarding, specially if you decide to climb up the crater of Villarrica volcano.

In our snowboarding and skiing adventure tours that include Pucon, we support our backcountry access with powerful snowmobiles, so you can rest assured that you’re going to get a lot of fun.

 

pucon ski volcano
Climbing the Villarrica volcano

 

The best part of a ski experience in Pucón consists in hiking up to the open crater, and then skiing all the way down to the ski center, with excellent snow conditions. Accordingly, as every adventure activity in the mountain, the ascent of the Villarrica volcano must be carried out by a professional mountain local guide, along with the appropriate mountain gear.

 

villarrica volcano
Reaching the open crater of the Villarrica volcano

 

Corralco Ski Resort, La Araucanía Region

 

ski lonquimay
Ski on Lonquimay volcano, Corralco Ski Resort

 

Corralco Ski Resort is located 120 kilometers from the city of Temuco. Nestled in the heart of the Malalcahuello National Reserve, Corralco is the best ski resort in Chile. Additionnally, and over the last few years, it has become a world-class destination preferred by hundreds of beginner and advanced skiers.

Located 1.450 meters above sea level and on the southeast slope of the Lonquimay volcano, the ski resort offers a luxury hotel with comfortable facilities and excellent service. In winter, Corralco counts on a skiable domain of more than 1,000 ha. for alpine skiing and snowboarding, with its 6 lifts you can access 29 runs of different levels of difficulty. The skiable terrain surrounded by a unique forest of ancient araucarias and views of the Lonquimay volcano.

 

corralco resort chile
Ski runs in Corralco, Lonquimay Volcano.

 

All of these elements have led the experts to categorize Corralco Ski Resort as a unique destination for the practice of ski, snowboard, splitboard and randonnée. Thanks to this, it’s no surprise that Corralco has played host for the US Ski Team and for the Burke Mountain Academy to practice this sport during winter in the Southern Hemisphere.

 

 

Skiing in Chile 2021

 

ski chile

 

Still wondering where to enjoy great snow conditions this year ? Check out our last ski adventures in Chile’s Lake and Volcano District.

 

 

 

Our ski experience in Chile is unique. We can proudly say it is a mix of great luxury hotels with SPA to relax after a full day of skiing, excellent restaurants to enjoy local cuisine paired with the best local wines and beers, and natural hot springs. Furthermore, we use exclusive services such as cat-ski and snowmobiles, in order to explore the best hidden and snowy parts of the Lake and Volcano District.

 

Contact us for more info about the 2021 ski season in Chile and check out our special ski tours!

Our First Climate Emergency Plan

tourism declares chile

The travel industry is responsible for 8% of total global emissions contributing to global warming that threatens these resources. Amity Tours is aware of this fact and we want to be part of a big change and improvement in our industry.

 

That is why we’ve signed up to Tourism Declares, an initiative that supports tourism businesses, organisations and individuals in declaring a climate emergency and taking purposeful actions to reduce their carbon emissions as per the advice from The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) to cut global carbon emissions to 55% below 2017 levels by 2030.

As a commitment of the signature we would like to publish our own Climate Emergency Plan. Here you are:

 

Our Climate Emergency Plan 2021-22

 

At Amity Tours we already started with some significant changes in our operations. As we all know, waste and especially food waste has a big impact on the carbon footprint in general, and in our industry especially. Get more information about our Zero Waste Challenge.

 

zero waste challenge chile
Implementing the Zero Waste Challenge during the 2019-2020 summer season

 

As well as the waste management, we are working on a carbon reduction project with a local Mapuche Community. We are planning a tree planting and an environmental education program for children.

We have to be honest and don’t want to promise things we will not be able to comply. The global COVID crisis has been affecting (almost) the whole tourism industry. Amity Tours is not an exception. That is why we had to adapt our original Climate Action Plan that we were working on. Nobody knows what the future brings and that is why we are trying to set realistic goals. As a result, we created a Climate Action Plan with goals until 2022, as 2021 still will be a very different year.

Following, we would like to share with you our goals and how we believe to achieve them.

 

 

 

MEASURE

 

Recently, we joined the Fundación Basura (Waste Fundation in Chile) and got the benefit to measure our waste with the platform: Recylink. Now, we are able to calculate our exact waste during the next upcoming seasons.

Goals for 2021-2022:

  • Calculate our exact waste during the next season 2021/22 with the platform Recylink.
  • Finding a professional and confidential partner to measure our carbon footprint of our operation centre and our tours in the Lake and Volcano District (starting with the 2021/22 season)
  • Investigate if it is worth to get certified by the national carbon calculation program: Huella Chile or any international certification

 

REDUCE

 

It is very important to measure the waste and carbon footprint, but now lets put these words into action:

Goal for 2021-2022

  • Find solutions to reduce our measured waste at least by 50% by the next season.

 

Gourmet Picnic
Our famous Zero Waste Gourmet Picnic

 

ADVOCATE

 

Since we signed up at Tourism Declares a Climate Emergency we have shared the great initiative especially with our local partners. We got positive feedbacks and interest for the community. The AWA Hotel in Puerto Varas, one of our main hotel partners, already shared its Climate Emergency Plan.

Goals for 2021:

  • Create a local community in the Lake and Volcano District where different companies and organization from the tourism sector will share sustainable practices and advocate for a massive declaration.

Goals for 2022:

  • Create a Zero Waste Lake and Volcano District, where we include a big number of tourism organizations, tour operators, restaurants, accommodations and local recycling companies. Together, we will work for the first Zero Waste Destination in Chile. 

 

INVEST (OFFSETTING)

 

Together with our local partners Rutas Ancestras Araucarias and SALTUS we started working on a reforestation project during 2020. When COVID-19 hit the world we had to freeze our support for the project and focus on other things.

Nevertheless we are happy to share with you the great work of SALTUS. In this professional and scientific research they were investigating about tree species that has to be used for the reforestation project in our beautiful Araucanía region. 

Goal for 2021:

  • As soon as we can welcome fellow travelers again, we will resume our program with our local partners. The first step will be calculation the amount of trees to plant to compensate our carbon footprint of 2021.

Goal for 2022:

  • We will invest the symbolic amount of one tree for each client. The money will be used for the project. (Installing a nursery garden, capacitation to the local community, giving classes to the kids in the rural schools about the tree plantation and its positive effects for the environment and community, monitoring of the plantation and much more)

 

Each year we will be sharing our process with you. Stay tuned and we are happy about every comment, experience or recommendation! Get in contact with us!

 

 

Araucaria trees
The famous and native monkey puzzle trees. (Araucaria araucana)

 

Do you want to know more about the Tourism Declares community?

Twitter: @TourismDeclares / Facebook: Tourism Declares@tourismdeclares

#ClimateEmergency / #tourismdeclares

Amity Tours gestionó exitosa primera Rueda de Negocios de la Ruta Escénica Lagos & Volcanes

puyehue national park

chile destino lagos volcanes

Después de meses de trabajo con emprendedores asociados a la tour operación en el Destino Lagos & Volcanes, los días 24 y 25 de marzo se realizó la “Primera Rueda de Negocios”, evento gestionado por Amity Tours y su oficina consultora Amity Lab.

 

Las empresas que participaron del evento fueron, principalmente, tour operadores locales que diseñan y operan experiencias turísticas (suppliers), operadores mayoristas de turismo nacional, receptivo y agencias de viajes de todo el país (buyers).

Este trabajo de consultoría comenzó en Noviembre de 2020, a través de dos asesorías encomendadas por el Programa Estratégico de Corfo Ruta Escénica Lagos & Volcanes.

 

volcan osorno lago llanquihue
Volcán Osorno y Lago Llanquihue, Región de Los Ríos

 

La primera consultoría abordó el ámbito de diversificación de la oferta de los operadores del macro destino y la segunda estuvo centrada en herramientas para el área comercial de la tour operación. Se realizaron más de 10 talleres prácticos con diferentes temáticas y con foco en tour operación, logrando transferir conocimientos y técnicas de fácil aplicación entre los participantes.

La rueda de negocios contó con la participación de 64 suppliers y 24 buyers nacionales, generándose cerca de 300 reuniones en ambas jornadas.

Según los propios suppliers, tanto las jornadas de transferencia como la rueda de negocio, es un aporte en la sofisticación de su oferta, mejora de sus procesos comerciales y genera mayor visibilidad de sus experiencias, a través de la vitrina que representan los buyers.

Respecto a la Rueda de Negocio, la reconocida emprendedora Isabel Correa, propietaria de La Baita Conguillío, quien participó en este proceso, señaló que “Ha sido una gran oportunidad de poder aumentar nuestras redes comerciales y mostrar a potenciales compradores la oferta que tenemos en La Baita Conguillío, esperamos que estas iniciativas continúen para que podamos salir juntos de esta crisis.”

Otro hito a destacar, es la creación del primer “Club de Experiencias Turísticas” a nivel nacional, que cuenta con más de 60 empresas que hoy diseñan y operan directamente experiencias en el destino Lagos & Volcanes, en su mayoría asociadas a turismo de naturaleza, aventura y cultural.

Al respecto, el emprendedor Gonzalo Barros, co-fundador del tour operador Ranco Lauken considera que “La asociatividad generada a partir de este proyecto, y materializada en el “Club de Experiencias Turísticas”,  debe ser el primer paso para construir un mejor destino con oferta de experiencias sustentables que generen beneficios concretos para todos en el territorio.”

Sobre el trabajo realizado por Amity Tours, Cristián Levy, CEO de la empresa, señaló “Estamos satisfechos con el trabajo realizado por nuestro equipo, creemos que fuimos capaces de transferir conocimiento que aporta directamente a los operadores locales, conocimiento que Amity Tours ha obtenido a través de su experiencia durante 18 años operando. Hemos abierto las puertas de la empresa para que vean cada detalle de nuestra operación. Esperamos que a través de Amity Lab, nuestra oficina consultora, podamos seguir participando en proyectos tan importantes como este”, puntualizó.

Para más información del proyecto, puede contactarse con Cristián Levy a [email protected].

 

Trekking Mapu Lahual Chile – A Personal Experience

A beautiful summer is coming to an end in the Chilean Lake and Volcano District. It is time to remember the great adventures lived during this appreciated season. For me, the outstanding experience during the last months was the unique trekking on the Pacific Coast at Mapu Lahual.

 

mapu lahual chile

 

First of all, I would like to introduce you to the territory we will dive into during the next paragraphs.

Mapu Lahual is an indigenous parks network along the Pacific Coast of Chile, located around 1000 kilometers south of Santiago de Chile, and 100 kilometers North of Puerto Montt.

 

wwf mapu lahual
Mapu Lahual Territory (Source: WWF Chile)

 

The 60.000 hectares count with a high diversity (many of them endemic) Patagonian Temperate Rain Forests. It is worth mentioning that the area is recognized as a hotspot or world-class natural heritage (Mittermeier et al, 2004). Here, you can find the last major expanse of primary coastal forests, coastal olivillo (Aextoxicon Punctatum), centuries-old larches, lonely beaches and rivers with transparent waters, as well as marine and river ecosystems free of pollution.

 

mapu lahual trekking

 

Mapuche Williche Community

 

The Williche (or Huilliche) are indigenous people who belong to the Mapuche community. In Mapudungun, Williche means “people from the south”, since they are located to the south of the largest Mapuche group, which lives in the regions of La Araucanía and Los Ríos.

 

williche indigenous chile
Señora Mela and her family: Our lovely host at Huellelhue

 

The Williche were exclusively semi-sedentary hunters and gatherers until the 13th or 14th century, before they also introduced limited horticulture. The rich game population, fishing and the gathering of wild pine fruits continued to provide the most important subsistence basis.

 

williche community chile
Williche fishermen

 

In the 16th and 17th centuries, under the influence of the Spaniards, they switched to agriculture (wheat, potatoes) and cattle breeding (llama, cattle, horse). In contrast to the other Mapuche peoples, the Williche lived monogamous.

The Williche owned large canoes to cross rivers and lakes. They must also have had some knowledge of metallurgy as copper jewelry was found on them.

 

 

The ethnic religion corresponds to the Mapuche religion. According to surveys, 10 percent of the Williche still profess the traditional religion, another 10 percent are non-religious and 80 percent are officially Christians. However, the Huilliche Christianity is strongly mixed with traditional elements and the important rituals of the Mapuche still have a central meaning.

Currently, it is estimated that there are only about 20 speakers of Tse süngun, the local variant of the Mapuche language, typical of the current province of Osorno. One of them, Juan Eligio Cumigual, over 80 years old, lives in the community of Manquemapu, being perhaps the southernmost native speaker of the Mapuche language.

 

An unforgettable trekking

 

Without any doubt, the overwhelming natural beauty of the Mapu Lahual park and the hospitality of the local Williche people made this trip an unforgettable one.

We started our trip in the south, at the small fisher town of Manquemapu.

On the way to the small cove, we passed by white sand beaches, where we spot a group of Chilean dolphins. These small and curious dolphins are only found o the coast of Chile. They were jumping with the waves and gave us a perfect welcoming party! What a great beginning of this adventure!

 

Relaxing moments at the beach of Caleta Condor after a challenging hiking day

 

Manquemapu

 

Arriving to the locality of Manquemapu, we parked the car and crossed a hanging bridge by foot. On the other side of the river, a friendly women welcomed us and showed us our campground. On the walking trails we could see many blocks of larch shingles. The larch, or “lawal”, is the characteristic tree of the local forests. In this community, they still use this appreciated wood to export shingles and handicrafts.

 

On the way to the beach “El Galpón” where we saw Chilean Dolphins

 

After setting up our tents, we started a nice hike towards “El Galpón“, a hidden beach. The waves invited us to jump into the cold pacific ocean. While taking a sunbath to dry our wet bodies and hair, a family of Chilean dolphins visited us. They were jumping around in the big waves. We felt so lucky about this natural spectacle!

 

Starting the trail “El Troncal”

 

The first morning on the pacific coast welcomed us with a typical rain shower. Nothing that could minimize our enthusiasm about the upcoming trekking. Today our goal was getting to Caleta Condor. 17.2 kilometers of Valdivian rainforest, steep mountain trails, river crossings, wetland, ancient larches and beautiful lookout points were waiting for us.

 

el galpon mapu lahual

 

As the first few hours of the trekking were leading through deep rainforests, we did not feel affected by the slight rain. Then, as soon as we got to the first plain, the rain stopped and only a slight wind accompanied us.

Afterwards, we enjoyed a nice picnic lunch at the river side, we had to climb another hill. Yet, our big backpacks felt a little heavier with every meter, but the abundant nature and nice company were worth any effort. Almost at the end of the hike, we could catch some great views overlooking the Pacific Ocean.

 

caleta condor mapu lahual
Looking at Caleta Condor

 

With every step we got closer to the beautiful white sand beach of Caleta Condor. The sound of the ocean filled us with energy and we run the last meters to the beach to jump into the welcoming waves.

 

Famous Caleta Condor

 

Whitesand beach, green hill, ocean
The famous whitesand beach at Caleta Condor

 

A personal dream came true! While I was traveling to Chile for the first time, I read about the cove of Caleta Condor. I was very much interested in getting to know this hidden place, only reachable by boat or foot. While swimming in the refreshing sea, looking at the small cove with its private beach, I could not believe having reached this spot six years later. Caleta Condor is well known by adventure tourists. Not only it offers an impressive beach but also scuba diving, fishing or seafood gathering, kayaking and a good local gastronomy.

 

kayak caleta condor mapu lahual
Sit-on-Top Kayaking at Caleta Condor, Mapu Lahual

 

Huellelhue Cove, “the place where you swim”

 

Local transport in wooden fisher boats

 

After a cosy night in the tent, listening to the waves, we took another swim in the refreshing ocean. Then, we got ready for our next hiking day. First of all, we took a tipical wooden fishers boat, crossing the Cholguaco river. On the way we could appreciate evergreen forests, whitesand beaches, small wooden houses, birds like great egret (ardea alba) and many others.

Our friendly local guide Lucho led us uphill, where we got spectacular views over the pacific ocean. We were walking through forests of olivillo (Aextoxicon Punctatum) and had to find our way through dense formation of native bamboo jungle. Here is where we appreciated our professional guide, who knew every corner of this abundant rainforest.

After a tasty picnic, we continued our way downhill. We could not believe our eyes when we reached the several kilometer-long whitesand and lonely beach of Rada Ranu. An unforgettable feeling overcame us when we drop our backpacks in the sand and run towards the smooothy waves of the pacific ocean!

 

Beach Rana Ranú
An unforgettable viewpoint overlooking the Beach Rana Ranú

 

Afterwards, we had to cross only a few more kilometers on the beach and through beautiful wetland. At the end of the day, we reached the Huellelhue river, where some friendly locals waited for us.

On their wooden boats we crossed the river and got to a perfect camping spot. Dinner was ready and we enjoyed fresh seafood in a cosy local house. Tonight we set up a nice campfire and shared funny stories.

 

Our todays campsite at Huellelhue

 

As well as Caleta Condor, the small locality of Huellelhue is only reachable by foot or boat. Huellelhue or “Weyelwe” means “the place where you swim”.

 

Course to Maicolpue

 

Enzo, our local boat driver brought us to the hiking trail.

 

Another day in paradise! This morning we woke up with a sunray reaching our tents. The river and surrounded wetland were covered with a silvery mist, which turned the area in a mystical atmosphere. Again we jump on a fisher boat and crossed the Huellelhue river for about 40 minutes. What a great way to immerse ourselves into the local way of life!

With our new local guide José, we started walking through wetland until getting to the base of the next hill. A steep uphill trail through ancient forests followed. We all felt great as the backpacks got a little lighter and our legs were already used to the efforts from the first hiking days. As a result, we reached our lunch spot faster then expected. Finally, we got to our last beach called Tril-Tril. A very small cove with only a few holiday houses. Here we enjoyed our last swim in the ocean and felt so greatful about the passed days in pure nature!

Our last night dinner was a five-star experience in a local cabin. We were attended like queens and enjoyed the homemade bread, smoked sawfish, natural juice, fresh salads and a tipical „pebre de ulte“(mix of seaweed, tomato, onion and coriander).

 

mapu lahual seafood
Fresh seafood and vegetables from the garden

 

What an amazing way to finish this spectacular experience of hiking along the pacific coast. I have been hiking along many beautiful trails around the world but this trekking was definitely a once in a lifetime experience for me!

 

mapu lahual Huellelhue River
Huellelhue River

 

 

About me

 

Born and raised in Switzerland, I turned my hobby into my job and worked as a Travel Agent for many years. Always exploring hidden corners around the world. In 2014, I traveled to Chile for the first time. What started as a single-women-adventure turned into a life-changing-trip.

My objective was to travel from Santiago de Chile to Ushuaia, Argentina. By hitchhiking or using public ground transportation as close as possible to the local culture and nature.

During this trip, I met my actual boyfriend and father of our little daughter. After years of living in between of two countries, I decided in 2016 to move to Chile and to start my life here. I am still very happy about this decisions, I cannot imagine a better place to raise my child. The abundant nature, wise culture and adventurous friends fill my heart every day with happiness!

Want to know more about the trekking at Mapu Lahual or any other adventure in Chile? Let’s have a chat and I will share my experiences and tips to travel around my beautiful second home country.

Best, Angela