Chile – A journey from the Andes to the Pacific Ocean

Cordillera las Raíces

Chile is about 4300-kilometers long. We all talk about the extreme diversity from north to south. But did you know that in the average width of only 177 kilometers you can find an impressive natural and cultural diversity too? We take you on a journey from the Andes to the Pacific through the Lake and Volcano District.

 

Pichillancahue Glacier Hike
Hiking to the Pichillancahue Glaciar

First of all, some facts about the geography of Chile

In Chile, there are four large strips of relief, which give the physical environment a markedly longitudinal character.

These are:

  • The Andes Mountain Range, high and wide in the north, which descends to the south.
  • The intermediate depression, with high plateaus in the north.
  • The Cordillera de la Costa, lower than the Andean heights, but with difficult access to the sea.
  • The extensive Chilean shoreline with its equal coasts from Arica to Chiloé and dismembered towards the south of the country.

The Andes mountain range constitutes an imposing wall. Whose altitude gradually descends from north to south. Starting at the heights of the Nevado Ojos del Salado (6,893 m) in the province of Atacama, reaching  the modest peaks of Darwin (2,135 m), in the province of Magallanes.

Its colossal heights on the western slope are of climatic and economic importance. It acts as a climate screen, intercepting the western humid air masses and forcing them to rise and precipitate on its slope. Thus, it is how it is transformed into the reservoir of water and snow that it generates in rivers. These cross our country transversely and serve to irrigate the fields of the intermediate depression, supply water to urban agglomerations and allow energy to be obtained through hydroelectric plants.

Chile’s numerous rivers are relatively short; they are generally born in the Andes and flow west towards the Pacific. Thus, in the northern and central regions they feed mainly by the eternal snows that cover the Andes. While most of the great Chilean lakes, including the Llanquihue, concentrate in the wonderful southern lake region.

The natural and cultural diversity in only 150 kilometers

Let us get an idea about the divers landscapes in only 150-kilometers width. We take you on a imaginative trip from east to west to our beautiful Lake and Volcano District!

 

Cordillera las Raíces
Cordillera las Raíces

The Andes Mountain Range

Starting at the Andes Mountain Range we dive into the mystical Araucaría (monkey puzzle tree) forests and connect to the millenary species around us. Therefore we hike through deep forests, cross by crystal-clear lagoons and breath the fresh air of these altitudes. Meanwhile we imagine the daily life of the inhabitants in this area.

The local mapuche communities (Pewenches) are named after the Pewen – Araucaria, being its fruit the central element of their diet. History relates that the Mapuche were mainly engaged in agriculture and cattle breeding. However, the Pewenches have been noted for being gatherers and ranchers. It is argued that the Pewenche “owned herds of llamas, which made them herdsmen-farmers who used wool. As for agriculture, the vegetation provided them with herbs and wild fruits. They cultivated corn, potatoes, beans, goose and quinoa, among which the pehuén”(Acosta, 2004: 4). Today, this ancient practice of collecting the gülliw – piñion – is maintained, starting the most characteristic process today: the “Veranadas” at the beginning of March.

 

Piñion, Araucaría fruit
Piñon, Araucaría fruit

 

Before continuing our journey towards the west, we climb up one of the magical volcanoes in the area. Let us try to reach the top of the very active Villarrica Volcano. We might even spot some lava on the top! Therefore we cross a glacier and prepare ourselves for some strong winds.

As soon as we reach the top we get impressed by the volcanic activity of the Villarrica (or Rukapillan, in the Mapuche language). Moreover the scenic view overlooking the beautiful lakes, rivers and volcanoes around will take your breath away.

The countryside and its prairies

Now, as we got to know the Andes Mountain Range, it is time to visit the flatter areas. Around the lakes, like Panguipulli, Villarrica and the second biggest Lake of Chile, Llanquihue, we enjoy the harmony of the green prairies, the wide rivers and the wheat fields. Lay back and feel the calm lifestyle on the countryside.

 

Chilean Lake and Volcano District Prairie
Prairie of the Chilean Lake and Volcano District

 

In this flatter area the Nagche and Wenteche Mapuche communities settled their homes. They mostly live from the agriculture and cattle breeding. In addition to the Mapuche families, many German immigrants found their new home in the Lake and Volcano District. Around the big lakes we find many German styled houses and can feel the German influence also on the menus. It is easy to understand, why these area is famous for its great cheese and beer…

 

Getting to the Pacific Ocean

Before we reach the coast, we have to take a deeper look at the very unique Valdivian rainforest. Were we count with an unusual diversity of tree species, many of which are unique in the world. Especially the Valdivian jungle stands out for its beauty. Some species of conifers in the Chilean forest are among the longest-lived in the world, for example the larch. Therefore we can enjoy some nice walks through thousand-years old forests with a dense undergrowth. Classified as a very special temperate forest, it counts with several specimens of native animals such as the Monkey of the bush, Pudú, Choroy parrot and the Black-necked Swan.

 

Reserva Alerce Costera
Larch trees at the Alerce Costero Reserve

 

Not only the landscape changes, while we get closer to the coast. Also, the habits and name of the local mapuche communities changes: Lafkenches (people belonging to the sea) use the coast as a settlement. They have an economy and way of life closely related to the sea and marine resources (fish, shellfish, marine mammals, etc.).

 

Shellfish Mapuche Lafkenche
Shellfish Mapuche Lafkenche

 

Finally on the Pacific Ocean, we get impressed by the lonely beaches, the ruff shores and the cold sea. While during the migration season (sep-may) we might even observe some delfines and whales close to the coast. Without any doubt getting to the Pacific Ocean after climbing up an active volcano, crossing by the harmonious prairies and getting lost in the dense Valdivian jungle is a the jewel in the crown.

 

Mapu Lahual Pacific Ocean
Mapu Lahual Pacific Ocean

 

Do you want to explore the Epic Pacific Coast trails?

 

Source: www.cultura.gob.cl/estudios/observatorio-cultural

Helpful tips for an easy bike care

Mountainbike tires MAXXIS

The bike season in southern Chile just finished. We are now taking care of a good after season – maintenance to get our bikes ready for the next trips. We are happy to share some tips about a self-made bike care.

 

Mountainbikes on trailer

Bike care made easy

Those who maintain their bikes will have more fun with them! With the right care, you can reduce wear extremely. This way, you can avoid costly consequential damage and you are even safer on the road.  We show you how to do it – in six easy steps.

Prepare all you need before you start:

  • Brush, sponge, rag
  • Bike cleaner
  • Chain oil
  • small tool box (with Torx bits)
  • Air pump with nanometer
  • small torque wrench (up to approx. 12 Nm)
  • for bikes with suspension: damper pump and suspension lubrication

 

Bike mechanics bike tires men woman
Changing tires at Amity’s Headquarter

That is how it works

Basic cleaning

To start, first wash your bike with a sponge and a bike cleaner detergent. This is how you get rid of coarse dirt such as sand and dust. Then, dry thoroughly with a rag.

Caution: You should not use a high-pressure cleaner – it can damage the bearings and seals!

 

Suspensions

Clean the fork and damper with a clean cloth. You can spray a suspension lubrication on the stanchions to lubricate the scraper rings. Then, use a damper pump to check the air pressure in the fork and damper. A negative suspension travel of approx. 25 percent is recommended for a mountain bike.

Bicycle drive

Clean the sprocket, chain ring, chain and gear thoroughly with a small brush and a cleaner. Apply chain oil sparingly. Then shift through all the gears a few times and wipe off the excess oil with a rag. If your circuit is hooked, you can adjust it using the adjusting screw.

 

Bike gear yellow black mountain bike

Tires

Check the profile. Are the tires worn? If yes, new ones are indispensable as worn tires are a safety risk! Are they still okay? Then check the air pressure. Proper tire pressure lets your bike roll quickly, ride smoothly, and avoid flats. Narrow tires need more air pressure than wide ones: Road tires typically require 80 to 130 psi (pounds per square inch); mountain tires, 25 to 35 psi; and hybrid tires, 40 to 70 psi.

 

Mountainbike tires MAXXIS

 

Brakes

Check the brake pads, blocks and discs. The covering on the brake pads should be at least one millimeter thick (check the manufacturer’s instructions!). If the rubbers are worn, new ones have to be found. If your brake no longer grabs properly, it may need to be bled. Then, contact an experienced bike mechanic.

Screws

Check all screws (e.g. saddle clamp etc.) and tighten them with a torque wrench. The Nm specification is often written on the components. If not, you can find them in the official instructions.

Ready is your bike for some new adventures!

 

Cannondale road bike

 

*Please note, this list does not claim completeness and we recommend contacting a professional bicycle mechanic in case of uncertainty.

Check out our confirmed bike departure date for December 2020

 

biker volcano lake nature

 

Where to buy good bike tools and maintenance.

*Source

 

Total solar eclipse in Pucón on December 14, 2020

solar eclipse 2020

Where will the phenomenon take place?

Chile is the perfect place for star gazing. On December 14th 2020, the focus will not be on stars but on the total solar eclipse.

Pucón is going to be the center of attention during this special day. The solar event is going to last 2h 50min. The eclipse will start at 11:41am with a total darkness at 1:04pm.

This very special phenomenon occurs 884 years after a similar astronomic event in the area. The Araucanía región is the territory where mainly resides the indigenous Mapuche community.

Map Chile Solar Eclipse
Foto credit: http://eclipseschile.gob.cl/index.html

Signification of a solar eclipse in the Mapuche cosmovision

 

Mapuche Ruka Woman
Señora Rosario, member of the Mapuche community
Foto credit: Jonatha Jünge

Many centuries before modern astronomy and its sophisticated telescopes, Mapuche people were already related to the cosmos. It was an important tool to predict the weather and influences on the land.

In Mapudungun, the Mapuche’s native language, a total solar eclipse is called “lai antü” or “lan antü”, which means “death of the sun”. This phenomenon is also known as “malonji ta antü” (they came to cover the sun or attack the sun) or “zumiñii antü” (the sun darkened).

This event is expected with respect, since the sun represents the way of understanding time. The „lai antü“has a strong content, so designating the death of the sun implies the suspension of time, a change of cycle for the star, a change in the process. Faced with this phenomenon of time suspension that affects nature.

A partial eclipse usually means a good year for the community. But a total eclipse is a bad omen for humanity, including the possible death of a dear and respected chieftain.

Despite the negative interpretation of the event by the Mapuches, in the occidental culture this natural phenomenon is a true once in a lifetime experience. In addition of being the capital of adventure tourism in Chile, Pucón will be the lucky host of the total solar eclipse 2020.

Safety recommendations during the eclipse

  • Do not look straight at the sun without proper eclipse glasses (certified ISO 12312-2)
  • Do not stair at the sun using your camera, telephone or binocular
  • Kids have to be supervised by an adult during the whole event

Pre and post travel options around Pucón

Do not miss your chance of getting to know the best travel options around Pucón. Take a look at our top travel experiences especially designed for active nature lovers.

Contact us for any group request or tailor made program.

Quetrupillan and Lanin Volcano
Quetrupillan and Lanin Volcano