Scouting the Pacific coast of La Araucania Region, Chile’s Lake and Volcano District

Playa puacho chile

Home of the Mapuche indigenous people, Chile’s Lake and Volcano District has a wide range of natural and cultural highlights. At Amity Tours, we are always exploring new routes or beautiful sites, and yet we still get surprised about the great diversity. Recently, we went on to discover the Pacific coast of La Araucania region for our newest gravel bike tour. 

 

gravel bike chile mapuche
Amity team working on finding new gravel bike routes to explore in La Araucania.

 

During our last scouting trips, we focused more on the mountain part of La Araucania Region. Indeed, we travelled to the amazing Conguillio National Park for some gravel adventures alongside Llaima volcano, in addition to biking alongside the Araucaria trees (Monkey Puzzle Trees) towards Mamuil Malal pass, the border with Argentina.

 

 

In this instance, we wanted to get to know more in depth the Pacific coast side of La Araucania Region. Thus, we started at the Temuco Airport (ZCO) and drove towards the west, passing through the town of Freire. There, we visited a very charming lady with their famous handicrafts. 

After a nice lunch at Teodoro Schmidt, we went on the gravel roads until arriving at the famous Budi Lake. 

 

Lago Budi Wampo Pacific Coast
Lago Budi traditional Wampo (wooden canoe)

 

Facts about Budi Lake

 

In Mapudungun, “Budi” means “salty” and it is the only salted lake in Chile. The Budi Lake is located near the Pacific coast of La Araucanía , and is part of the county of Puerto Saavedra.   

Comprising a total area of 65 square kilometers, the lafkenche (“men of the sea”) communities inhabit around the Budi Lake. As one of the last biodiversity reserves of La Araucanía Region, it is home to almost 200 native flora, in addition to 156 species of endemic fauna. 

Throughout history, the steady raising of the ocean and tidal cycles have been sculpting the lake. But in 1960, a huge earthquake permanently shaped the Budi lake since wide areas of low altitude were flooded forever.

During our stay at Llaguepulli at Budi Lake we got to know a few families of the Mapuche Lafkenche community. We had a nice chat around the bonfire at their typical ruka and enjoyed a tasty home made dinner. 

 

Typical Ruka Lafkenche at Lago Budi Araucania
Typical Ruka Lafkenche at Lago Budi

 

Mapuche Lafkenche

 

The Lafkenche group mainly lives by the Pacific Ocean and around the Budi Lake. Their traditional house is a ruka lafkenche, whose construction is mainly covered by the kuna, a plant of the territory. The main feature of the typical housing is the stove located at the center of the house where the family and invited guests meet.

Regarding the lafkenche gastronomy, we find a strong association with the sea. Indeed, the main typical dishes are based on seafood products, fish and seaweed. In addition, the Lafkenche Mapuche also incorporates wild fruits to give the dishes a unique flavor.

Among the cultivable products in the lafkenche cooking, the potato stands out. Actually, the Lafkenche territory supplies a large part of the potato demand of Chile.

 

Fresh Seafood Mapuche lunch
Fresh Seafood lunch

 

Local handicrafts

 

One of my personal goals when travelling to the Budi lake was finding one of the famous pilwa bags. I have been looking for it for a long time, but wanted to buy it directly from a local producer. 

On our way around the Budi lake, I found a very friendly Mapuche woman offering me one of her bags. Of course I did not doubt any second and bought one of her self-made treasures. 

What makes these bags so unique?

The pilwa is part of the identity and craft tradition of the Mapuche Lafkenche who live around the Budi lake. They are made from the plant known as  “chupón” (Greigia sphacelata), a vegetable fibre that grows around the lake. This specific plant is giving rise to basketry products such as bags, baskets and key rings. A 100% biodegradable material which offers a great alternative to the plastic products generating a vast amount of waste. 

As part of my own Zero Waste philosophy, I love finding local, climate friendly products and contributing to the local circular economy. Something that is also reflected in our company’s values like the Zero Waste Challenge. Also check out our Sustainable Practices

 

Mapuche pilwa bag
Traditional Pilwa bag

 

After a very unique night spent in one of the traditional Rukas, we woke up with the sound of the singing birds and the mooing cows, in addition to the familiar smell of the bonfire that provided us with heat during the night. 

The generous breakfast gave us the energy to continue our adventure in the Pacific coast of La Araucania.

  

 

Puacho Beach

 

playa puacho chile Pacific coast
Seashells on volcanic rock in Puacho beach, Puerto Saavedra

 

Only 11 kilometres from the small village of Llaguepulli, we reached the beautiful Puacho beach. Several installations give evidence to the ritual ceremonies (Nguillatun and Traditional Horse Racing) taking place at this beach. 

Bordering the Pacific Ocean we enjoyed great unpaved roads and spotted a Lile cormorant colony (Phalacrocorax gaimardi) on the northern side of the beach. The lile, or red-legged cormorant is an endangered bird and one of the most beautiful cormorants in Chile. We could observe their spectacular flights and hunting activities while enjoying the nice ocean breeze. 

 

cormorant lile
The Cormorant Lile inhabit the Pacific coast of Chile

On the northern end of the Budi lake and turning west to the Pacific Ocean we got to the city of Puerto Saavedra.

 

Puerto Saavedra

 

Puerto Saavedra is the main urban center of the Saavedra county. This place, which in Mapudungun means “The melody of the river when it sounds” is located in front of the river mouth of the Imperial. In addition, here the waters of the Pacific Ocean, Budi lake and Imperial river converge. 

The city was founded by the sea in 1887 by Cornelio Saavedra. However, the 1960 tsunami devastated the town, which later had to be rebuilt behind the dunes of the sector.

There, we enjoyed a tasty and fresh seafood lunch looking at the riverside. Afterwards, we continued our journey passing by the city of Carahue and Nuevo Imperial. 

On our way to the nice little town of Capitan Pastene, the pine plantations predominated the landscape and gave evidence to the importance of the wood production in this area. 

 

Capitan Pastene Araucania
The landscape around the village of Capitan Pastene

Capitán Pastene: the little Italy of Chile’s Lake and Volcano District

 

Museo Jamon Serrano Capitan Pastene Araucania
Cured ham production in Capitan Pastene

 

The Italian and Chilean traditions blend together in a unique way in Capitán Pastene. Indeed, the original recipes have been transferred from generation to generation as well as its inhabitants’ hospitality. 

Capitán Pastene is the village that illustrates and represents the Italian migration, specially those italians from the Emilia-Romagna region. In fact, its tradition has remained unchanged as of now. There, we can visit the pasta factories and buy artisanal sausages and hams. But above all, you can also taste the original recipes that have been passed down from generation to generation. 

 

capitan pastene araucania
Coppa hanging at the stores, a dry-cured pork ham.

 

The smell of fresh pasta, real prosciutto and Espresso transferred me to one of my beloved little italian towns visited during all the holidays in my childhood. Nothing prepares you to dive into this little Italian oasis.

Capitan Pastene is surrounded by pine plantations, small traditional towns and Mapuche communities, that is why you would never expect an italian town in the middle of that surrounding. We stayed at an Italian-Family owned Hotel L’Emiliano. 

 

Hotel and Restaurant LEmiliano Capitan Pastene Araucania
Hotel and Restaurant L’Emiliano, Capitan Pastene.

 

L’Emiliano is one of the first tourist businesses of the area. Besides offering accommodation for families and couples, this warm and spacious place also provides a rich and varied gastronomy. Indeed, its unique flavors and food combinations will take you straight to Italy. 

As a result, the menu features delicious fresh homemade pastas stuffed with meat, cheese, vegetables and seafood. Not without mentioning the desserts delighting the palate with tiramisu or strawberry panna cotta.

 

Prosciutto Factory in Capitan Pastene Araucania
Prosciutto Factory in Capitan Pastene

Unmissable sites at Capitan Pastene

Walking around the nice little town, we could feel the efforts of the Italian immigrants due to the beautiful buildings and unmissable sites, such as:

  • The church of San Felipe de Neri, located in front of the main square. Since 1943, the church has been commemorating Saint Philip Neri, who was born in Florence, Italy.
  • Cinema Pastene. As the oldest movie theater in Chile, this cultural heritage belongs to the Viani Family. And what’s more, the place has maintained its original structure and design since its construction (year 1016).
  • The Prosciutto de Don Primo Cortesi museum. This typical Italian character reflects in a special way the settler from Emilia Romagna.
  • The Molino Rosatti. Built in 2016, this mill has ever since been keeping secrets and anecdotes of the new village Capitan Pastene.

I enjoyed visiting this authentic village a lot, but at the same time feeling curious about the other interesting places of La Araucania region to visit. 

Leaving little Italy behind, and only driving a few kilometers we immersed ourselves into a total different surrounding: the Kuel valley.

 

Kuel Mapuche Araucania
Kuel is similar to a pyramid, made by the Mapuche people.

 

Kuel Valley

 

 

From ancestral times until the 19th century, the Mapuche communities constructed artificial and sacred earth mounds with the shape of a volcano. According to the anthropological study of Tom Dilehay, these mounds were used to bury the important persons and to serve the machis to feed the relationship between the ancestors and the living population. Moreover, the local family members used them as a map or as a reference physical node for families and lineages in the community.

In Purén-Lumaco valley, we can find the highest concentration of earth mounds in Chile. In effect, there still exist more than 300, which are more than 1,500-years-old. Thanks to them, we can learn more about the oldest monuments and rituals of the Mapuche people.

Inside the kueles, there is soil and material which come from other parts of the valley. This means that this work would have required the effort of many people. Some kueles are several meters high, which leads to presume that the ones who built the kueles were dedicated to this activity.

With this new knowledge I really got curious about the local Mapuche traditions, which vary depending on the geographic conditions in which each Mapuche group is settled. Indeed as people of the land (Mapu Che) they adapted their traditions due to the local conditions. That is why we can find differences between the Mapuche Lafkenche, Wenteche, Pewenche and Nagche. 

 

Mapuche Nagche, the human identity of the Nahuelbuta mountain range

 

In Mapudungun, Nag Mapu means “Land of the plains”.

The territory of the Nagche group skirts the southeast side of the Nahuelbuta mountain range. At first sight, the differences between the other territorial identities are hard to distinguish. One of them is the way to speak the native tongue Mapuzungun. Indeed, there are phonetical differences in how the Wenteche and Lafkenche speak Mapuzungun.

Another different aspect is the clothing. For example, the Nagche women decorate their clothes and plait with bright-coloured wool, or with silver inlaid wrappers. Also, they wear one-coloured aprons with breastplates, just like the blouses. In other territories, the women wear blouses and floral aprons. 

Moreover, we can notice distinctions in their ancestral housing. Actually, the traditional Nagche “ruka” has an oval plan, the roof is made with straw bundles and the side walls are made with wood. 

Whereas the Lafkenche ruka has a circular plan and both the roof and sides are covered with straw. Finally, the Pewenche ruka has a square plan, and the roof is made with a structure resistant enough to support the weight of the snow.

 

ruka lafkenche mapuche araucania
Traditional Lafkenche ruka

 

In their spiritual realm, the Nagche have been integrating the accordion to traditional music instruments in their prayers when praying or performing healing rituals such as Machitún or We Tripantu.  

Another difference in the spiritual part of the Nagche culture, the integration of the cinnamon tree as an element of great importance during the spirituals prayer and healing rituals. Unlike the nagche, the wetenche and lafkenche groups in La Araucanía Region commonly use the maqui, colihue and laurel trees.

In addition, it is worth noting as they live by the Nahuelbuta mountain range, the nagche easily have access to the pine nut, the fruit of the ancient monkey puzzle trees that grow in the region. But more importantly, they also have access to countless medicinal plants. 

 

Mapuche Museum at Purén

 

Mapuche Museum Puren Araucania
Mapuche museum in the city of Puren

 

Another great place to learn about the history of the Mapuche is the very interesting Museo Mapuche de Purén, located in the historical park of Purén overlooking the town. There you can find archaeological pieces, textiles and crafts. 

 

The threats of the forestry plantations

 

Nowadays it is quite hard to distinguish the kuels or other important mapuche sites in this area. That is why you will always have to be accompanied by a local Mapuche leader, who can explain to you the historical and actual use of the ceremony spots. 

 

Kuel Mapuche Araucania
Kuel, Important ceremony place surrounded by Eucalyptus plantation

 

Unfortunately, as a consequence of the forestry plantations and the agriculture, the ecosystems of the area have been heavily degraded and fragmented. Thus, the native vegetation has reduced to small sectors such as the Nahuelbuta National Park and the Contulmo Natural Monument.  

From an environmental point of view, the forestry plantations are the major contributor to the drought currently present in La Araucania region. Indeed, the planted trees by the industry like pine and eucalyptus are high water consumers. As a result, this has not only caused the social and economic poverty of the area, but the drought has also affected culturally. A clear example of this: the decrease of the plants ancestrally used as natural medicines.

That is why it is so important keeping as much protected area as possible. One very good example is the beautiful Nahuelbuta National Park.

 

Nahuelbuta National Park Araucania
Ancient araucaria or monkey-puzzle tree in Nahuelbuta National Park, La Araucania region

Nahuelbuta National Park

 

Founded in 1941, the Nahuelbuta national park is located on the highest zone of the Nahuelbuta mountain range, in La Araucanía Region. One of the last strongholds where the araucaria araucana lives, it has beautiful hiking trails and natural lookout points.

 

nahuelbuta mapuche people chile
Nahuelbuta national park

 

The park covers an area of 6,832 hectares, characterized by big forests of araucaria trees, most of them are thousands-year-old. As as specie native to the Andes mountain range, the Nahuelbuta national park is responsible of its protection.

You can hike 2 main walking trails in the Nahuelbuta national park. The first one is Piedra El Águila located 1.460 meters above sea level. There, you can find a lookout point with a spectacular view over the Andes mountain range, the valley, the Pacific coast and ocean. Second, the Cerro Anay (1,450 m.) offers a 5-kilometer hiking trail with stunning panoramic views over Los Nevados de Chillán, and the Villarrica volcano.

Back home I felt so grateful for the amazing opportunity to learn about the Lafkenche and Nagche culture and to enjoy the great trails on the coastal side of the Budi Lake. Not to forget the short excursion to little Italy, which stayed in an interesting contrast to the Mapuche culture and invited me to learn about the colonial history of Chile. 

Pacific coast Mapuche La Araucania
Pacific coast in La Araucania

UPDATE – Chile re-opens borders to international travelers

chile opening border

The Minsal (Chilean Ministry of Health) announced the changes in the Border Opening Plan regarding the 5-day quarantine.

 

 

Due to covid, the Chilean borders (air, land and sea) have been closed for non-resident foreigners since March 18 of 2020. The reopening of borders plan considers allowing the entrance to international travelers.

Since october 1st, the new Border Plan Chile updated new required conditions to meet in order to enter Chile. This new plan allows the entry to non-resident foreigners who have approved their vaccines against Covid-19, in addition to undergo a 5-day mandatory quarantine.

Yesterday, the Chilean Ministry of Health (Minsal) announced flexibilities concerning the quarantine, effective on November 1st.

 

Required travel documents to enter Chile

 

As a result, international travelers will have to meet the following conditions in order to enter Chile:

  • Before boarding, travelers must present the airline a negative result of a PCR test for SARS-CoV-2 (less than 72 hours). The test must have been carried out by a laboratory recognized by the local health authority.
  • The “Traveler Affidavit” (C19 certificate) form must be electronically completed up to 48 hours before the schedule flight to Chile. In this form, traveler must provide the contact information, health history and trip details. Also, the traveler agrees to report health conditions during the visit in Chile, under the Traveler Surveillance Period. During 14 days after arrival, travelers must report on a daily basis to the Health Authority their location and health conditions via an App.
  • Travelers must present a covid-19 health insurance (US $30.000 minimum coverage)
  • Show proof of vaccination. Priorly, the vaccination certificate must be validated by the Chilean Health Ministry. A form must be filled on MeVacuno page, this can take between 2 weeks and up to 1 month to obtain the Pase Movilidad (Chilean sanitary pass for vaccinated people). This certificate has a 45-day validity to enter Chile.
  • Undergo a 5-day quarantine, OR until obtaining a negative test result upon arrival at the airport.

 

Plan Paso-a-Paso

 

 

Once arrived in Chile, the visitors will be able to move throughout the country according to the Step-by-Step Plan. Created by the Chilean government, this strategy was established to face the pandemic according to the sanitary situation of each zone in particular, and determines different phases.

Each of them include restrictions and specific obligations. The progress and regression from one particular step to another is subject to epidemiological indicators, healthcare network and traceability of the virus.

Check out the detailed map of destinations according to the stages, and where you can travel throughout Chile.

 

Find out about all the active travel experiences (cycling, hiking, skiing, multisport or family adventures) available in Chile’s top destinations.

Or simply drop us a line and we’ll help you organize your trip in Chile!

See you soon!

 

 

Mapuche Chile

mapuche chile

The Mapuche are one of the greatest warrior people in Human History. They are admired and considered as indomitable, by chroniclers and historians. 

 

With great success, they first confronted the Inca Empire and then, the Spanish Empire. As of today, the Mapuche People are still alive more than ever.

Lautaro (“leftraru”), a famed Mapuche warrior (or “weichafe”), considered the William Wallace (Braveheart) of La Araucanía, was one of the great leaders, who managed to innovate and defeat the Spanish army, observing the military strategies of the Spaniards and incorporated it into his people.

 

lautaro mapuche
Lautaro or Leftraru

 

Geographically, the “Wallmapu” is the ancestral Mapuche territory, covering a vast area from the Pacific ocean (west side in Chile) to the Atlantic ocean (east side in Argentina), and with the Andes Mountains in the middle.

On the west side, the Mapuche ruled in La Araucanía Region. In general, La Araucania Region recognizes 4 sectors. Indeed, each of them has some cultural differences, due to the natural environment where they have developed: Pewenche (mountain range), Wenteche (upper valley), Nagche (lower valley) and Lafkenche (Sea).

 

wallmapu mapuche
Wallmapu, the Mapuche territory

 

Every Mapuche seeks to live in balance with Nature, as their ancestors did. The Mapuche people understood their role in Nature as part of it, and in no case as “masters” of the Universe, as some Western religions put it. For the life of the Mapuche, the human side, the natural side and the spiritual complement each other harmoniously, leading them to find the Küme Mogen (Good Living).

The Mapuzungün is the ancestral Mapuche language. Interestingly, each word has a meaning associated with the human being, the behavior of nature and its deepest beliefs. It is a reservoir of knowledge (Kimün) and way of thinking (Rakizuam).

Despite many attempts to make the culture of the Mapuche people disappear, it remains more alive than ever. Actually, they are constantly transforming and evolving, without losing sight of their roots and principles that guide their way of seeing the World.

 

mapuche flag
Mapuche flag

 

The Mapuche human being 

 

In Mapuzungün, the literal translation “che” means people, and “mapu” means land. Therefore, the meaning of the word “mapuche” is “People of the land”.

 

mapuche

 

However, being “che” for the Mapuche people is something much deeper. In fact, it has to do with complying with certain behavior norms harmonizing the relationship between people, Mother Nature and the Spirits.

 

The different Mapuche groups per territory

 

mapuche map
The different Mapuche groups in Chile (Map by TourMaps)

 

Throughout the various territories that make up the Wallmapu, we find a changing diversity according to the territory.

For example, the Lafkenche cuisine’s best specialties are mainly seafood, whereas the Wentenche and Nagche’s are more based on a great variety of cereals a meats (horse, chicken, lamb, and beef). Finally, the Pewenche’s special dishes are based on “piñones”, the nutty seeds of the araucaria tree or “Pewen“.

 

araucaria tree chile
The ancient araucaria tree
Pewenche

 

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 Conquistadores, they were hunters and gatherers of pine nuts (piñon, pewen or pehuén), seed 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.

 

pewenche mapuche
The Pewenche community preparing a traditional goat barbecue under the araucaria trees

 

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 and understand that the land cannot be separated from culture and identity. Pewenche people consider the Araucaria tree as their Mother, because “she” feeds them with her pine-nuts. 

 

Wenteche and Nagche

 

The daily life of the Wenteche and Nagche people develops around the nature of the different river-valleys located in La Araucanía Region. This territory is delimited by the pewenche territory (East), and by the lafkenche territory (West).

The typical Wetenche housing is associated with the ruka wenteche, whose construction is mainly covered by the collected plants (küna) found in wetlands and swamps of their territory. 

 

ruka mapuche
Ruka

 

Regarding the traditional gastronomy, the wenteche and nagche food has a strong base of meats (mainly chicken, beef, and horse), and cereals, mainly wheat (cachilla), in addition to legumes such as peas, beans, chicharo, and quinoa, among others. Thanks to these raw materials, they make preparations such as moulting, mote, roasted flour, catuto and locro. They mostly complement typical dishes such as casserole, roasts, zimita, and others.

On the other hand, the Wetenche and Nagche are the best at collecting wild fruits such as maqui, boldo, michay, mora, and mosqueta. Moreover, during the rainy seasons, they collect native mushrooms such as the digüeñe and changle. These strains are later incorporated in the traditional dishes to generate flavors of greater nutritional value.

Generally, in comparison to other Mapuche territories, it should be noted that the Wenteche and Nagche are more characterized by the apiculture and the intensive cereal production. In addition, thanks to the raw materials from the territory, they produce handicrafts associated with the ancestral way of dressing, but also everyday items. As examples of the Wenteche handicrafts, we can find blankets woven with wool and natural dyeing, ancestral Mapuche ceramics as well as silverware like trapelacucha, chaway and trarilonco.

 

Lafkenche

 

 

The Lafkenche mainly live by the Pacific Ocean and around the Budi Lake (the only salt-water lake in South America). Their traditional house is a ruka lafkenche, whose construction is mainly covered by the kuna, a plant that can be found in wetlands. The main feature of the typical housing is the wood-fire stove or “kütralwe”, located at the center of the house where the family and invited guests meet and greet.

 

mate mapuche ruka
Traditional mate ritual in the Ruka

 

Regarding the Lafkenche gastronomy, we find a strong association with the sea. Indeed, the main typical dishes are based on seafood ingredients, fish and seaweed. In addition, the Lafkenche also incorporate wild fruits and berries to give the dishes a unique flavor.

 

mapuche seafood
Dish of seafood

 

Among the cultivable products in the lafkenche cuisine, the potato stands out. Actually, the Lafkenche territory supplies a large part of the potato demand of Chile.

 

Huilliche

 

The Huilliche inhabit Los Ríos and Los Lagos Regions. Before the arrival of the Spaniards, they populated the lands located from the Toltén river to Chiloé Island. Actually, the word “Huilliche” means “People of the South”.

The Chezungun is their native language, which has roots of the Mapudungun language. Both languages differ in vocabulary and phonetic intonation patterns. However, the grammatical structure is the same.

For clothing, they used garments woven with wool of llamas and guanaco, which were then dyed with vegetable fibers in order to add color. They used to live in wooden buildings with woven straw roofs, which had a single room. There was also a space to prepare the campfire, cook and heat.

Economically speaking, their system was based on horticulture, livestock and fishing. They grew corn, potatoes and quinoa, in addition to raising llamas and guanacos. They built their own tools such as wooden weapons and also vessels to carry vegetables and fish.

 

fish huilliche
Fishing in the Huilliche territory of Mapu Lahual

 

Within the society, composed by tribes, they organized themselves according to a patrilineal system. Indeed, they excelled at being peaceful. However, due to the arrival of the Spanish conquerors, they started to develop warrior skills in order to defend their land.

 

The Mapuche spirituality

 

mapuche spirituality
Image by lapanera.cl

 

The oldest Mapuche pray every day at the beginning of the day, to give thanks to Nature and divinity for the fruits received. Also, they perform collective ceremonies, such as the Nguillatún, during which they give thanks for the harvests and prosperity of the year. Moreover, in certain times of climatic difficulties, they request for the end of droughts in the Wallmapu.

An important aspect of the Mapuche spirituality is to combine the observation of the physical environment with metaphysical aspects. An example of this is the use of dreams in order to guide their conduct or influence decisions.

 

The roles in the Mapuche society

 

The Mapuche social structure is based on “lof”, which is a basic social unit composed of patrilineal and consanguineous groups. They are principally based on kinship, as one of the essential characteristics between each lof.  

 

lonko machi
Lonko and Machi roles

 

A main authority figure in the Mapuche society is the lonko. Indeed, as the traditional authority figure, the lonko role is essentially the Head of each lof. In order to fulfill his role, he must completely master leadership skills, but also the dominion of the word and the capacity to deal and manage conflicts. More importantly, these skills must come as natural talents in order to be able to lead the Mapuche society and inspire respect to his spiritual peers.

To resume, the lonko stands out as ritual authority, as well as the machi role. Alongside him, the machi is the other major actor in the Mapuche society. As a natural medicinal healer, he or she is the one with closer ties to Divinity than the rest of the Mapuche members. Hence, the machi conducts most religious ceremonies such as Nguillatún, as well as curing physical diseases with medicinal plants.

Spiritually, the machi understands and practices her/his healing rituals from the perspective of the Mapuche cosmovision. Indeed, she/he is able to perform healing ceremonies (Machitún or Nguillatún) during which she/he falls into a trance. Thus, the machi can detect what evil is afflicting the patient. Finally then, she/he can prescribe her/his healing recommendations with purifying spells through chants.

 

The worldwide-known influential Mapuche people 

 

It is not without saying that the living culture is also observed in the daily life of the Mapuche. In fact, they have been able to integrate within the cities, working like any person, although in permanent contact with their communities of origin. Visiting relatives, participating in ceremonial activities such as the Nguillatún, recreational activities such as the Palin game (field hockey-like), designing handicrafts, speaking their mother tongue Mapuzugün and teaching their culture to their children, friends and everyone they value, respect and want to make the Mapuche culture known to the World. 

 

Elisa Loncón Antileo, the spokeswoman of the Mapuche native people

 

elisa loncon mapuche

 

Elisa was born on January 23rd, 1963 in La Araucanía Region of Chile, where she lived her childhood in the Lefweluan community. As of today, she is a mother, professor and defender of the linguistic and cultural rights of the native people. Her native tongue is the Mapudungun, moreover she speaks spanish and english languages.

She graduated with an English degree from La Frontera University in La Araucanía Region. Later, she carried out postgraduate study in the International Institute of Social Studies of Hague (Netherlands) and the University of Regine (Canada). In addition, she holds a PhD in Humanities from the University of Leiden (NL), not without mentioning a PhD in literature from Universidad Católica (Chile).

 

 

In 2021, Mrs. Loncón was elected as one of the representatives of the Mapuche people for the Chilean Constitutional Convention. Following the inauguration of the body, Loncón was elected President of the Constitutional Convention to represent the collective and plurinational voice of the Chilean people.

 

Flor Calfunao Paillalef, the Ambassador of the Mapuche People

 

 

Flor Rayen Calfunao-Paillalef was born on August 28th 1961 in La Araucanía Region. She belongs to the Juan Paillalef community (Temuco city). Since 1996, she has lived in Switzerland. She is the ambassador of the Permanent Mission of the Mapuche to the United Nations.

In 2008, the city of Geneva recently gave her the “Exiled Woman, Committed Woman” award for her continuous work on denouncing the human rights violations that the Chilean Government daily commits with the Mapuche community. 

 

 

However, on July 11th of 2018 after a 10-year long process, Switzerland definitively denied her asylum request, and also ordered her deportation to Chile.

In light of this decision, Flor Paillalef then decided to fill a complaint to the UN Committee of Torture, aleging a violation of her Rights under the Article 3° of the Swiss Convention. As a result, the Committee urged the Swiss to reconsider Flor’s asylum application. 

In conclusion, the Mapuche people want to be the main actor in the processes of the social transformation currently taking place both in Chile and around the Globe. Therefore, we invite you to understand and learn more about this ancestral way of life and spirituality through the visit of the beautiful landscapes present in the Mapuche territory, our Lake & Volcano District. 
Hopefully, when you return home, you will have lived a true ancestral experience giving you a more meaningful perspective of life.