Learn about the Chilean culture

Musician Accordeon

Amity Tours offers not just a simple trip to Chile. We make sure you learn more about the Chilean culture during all our tours. We would like to share some traditions from our friendly local team.

Active explorations in remote areas surrounded by nature will free our visitors to become part of the place. Adventure trips by Amity Tours will unfold meaningful experiences. We do enable our guests to discover and explore hidden corners, meet local communities and immerse themselves in the Chilean culture. This does reflect not only in our visits to the local indigenous communities but also in our team. You will find a true friend in our experienced and professional guides and drivers. In today’s post, we would like to introduce you to our top drivers, Orlando and Bernardo Gonzalez.

People behind Amity Tours

Our trips would not be possible without the fundamental collaboration of Orlando and Bernardo. These two brothers are not only our most experienced drivers, but also the hosts of our headquarters. Trouble shooters for any kind of unexpected issue before, during and after the trips, our personal mechanics and trailer builders and most important always ready for a nice chat and laugh.

Man Hiking OutdoorMan Chile Van

Thus, both of them started working with Amity Tours in 2007 and helped our company growing during the last 13 years!

They grew up about 45 kilometers outside of Pucón, up in the mountains and far away from civilization. Surrounded by beautiful native forests and Araucarias (monkey puzzle tree). The school was located 12 kilometers away from their house. By foot or horseback, was the only way to get there. So, they spent the whole week down in the school and only got home on the weekends.

Bernardo is not only a very experienced and safe driver. But he also loves riding bicycles. During our spectacular road cycling trips, he helps out whenever there is a mechanical problem. He also jumps on a bike to accompany our clients whenever possible.

Van Sprinter Volcano Flowers

The most fun part for him on the trips is the cultural night. We try to involve a nice evening with great local artists, where we show our traditional music and dance to our guests. This is where Bernardo presents his talent for music.

La Cueca – the chilean traditional dance

In 1979, la cueca was adopted as the national dance of Chile. Its presence can be recognized throughout the national territory, varying the choreographic and musical form according to the geographical area in which it is interpreted. But always preserving a common pattern that makes it a unique and differentiated dance;

The huaso (Chilean cowboy) advances towards the girl he likes the most and offers her his arm. She gets up, accompanying him in a short walk along the hall. The initial steps are very measured, calm, hesitant. The tissue move smoothly and, suggesting the insinuating twist of the Cueca, the huaso chases the fleeing woman, and using the tissue as if it were a soft loop, surrounds her without touching and brings his tissue to her side.

At the end, the huaso begins the shoe-tapping and usually looks like a skills competition with itself until the last lap and the hug and knee land.

In the countryside of southern Chile, the traditional dresses to dance the cueca are the peasant or country dress. The lady uses floral dresses with a petticoat underneath to expand the dresses and see them in broad form, shoes with heels. The man wears trousers sleeved up to the knee, straw hat, shirt and a blanket of red, blue, white colors.

People Party Guitar

Bernardo mentioned that exactly these very unique dress codes are making the dance a real spectacle! “Otra cosa es con guitarra”. (chilean slang which in this context would mean: there is no comparison between a dance in a normal dress or dance in the traditional cueca dress)

Let’s focus on another particularity of the Chilean culture.

The Chilean Slang

You can definitely fill a whole book about Chilean slangs and their meanings. Because of that, most foreigners coming to Chile struggle trying to understand the locals, especially at the beginning! It is part of the chilean traditions, using lots of particular slangs and words while talking. Every region has its particularity, in southern Chile for example people use to talk very fast and kind of sing their words.

Would you like to learn some slangs to survive in the Chilean jungle?

Bernardos favorite one is: Güatita llena – Corazón contento. = Belly full – heart happy. Which means enjoying a nice meal makes you happy.

A word Orlando think is very typical in Chile is: Pucha! = Oops!

Furthermore, some other slangs and words that may interest you traveling to Chile:

  • Andar a lo gringo: Not to wear underwear. (We ask ourselves: Do a lot of Americans go around not wearing underwear, or is this just a cultural stereotype?)
  • buena onda! = All right!, great
  • ¿Cachai? = Do you understand?
  • Pololo / Polola = Boyfriend / Girlfriend
  • Guagua = Baby in the mapuche language

Now, you should be prepared for your next trip to our country. That is why our two top drivers would like to invite you to another Chilean custom – join a typical barbecue with a nice cup of local wine.

The chilean wine

Wine Bottle Nature

In Chile we are very proud about our wine production. Thus there is no household in our country without a good bottle of the delicious drink. Bernardo recommends trying the emblematic grape called Carménère.

Amity Tours has developed an amazing Wine Tour that comprehends 5 wine valleys on central area: Maipo Valley, Casablanca Valley, Aconcagua Valley, Colchagua Valley and San Antonio Valley; a unique experience not to be missed. Where you’ll understand and verify why Chilean wines have earned such many prices and great reputation worldwide.

Fully licensed and responsible tour operator

Last but not least, Bernardo and Orlando want to highlight some other reasons why they really like working at Amity Tours. We are a sustainable tour operator, fully licensed and certified and care about our local team not mattering which role they play inside the company’ structure.

We are looking forward to showing you the Chilean culture and the beautiful landscapes in the Lake and Volcano District!

 

 

The active volcanoes of Southern Chile

villarrica volcano

Geographically, the Chilean territory is located in one of the greatest areas of volcanic & seismic activities in the whole world. The Pacific Ring of Fire, close to the Andes mountain range, carved by water, ice and volcanoes. With more than 2.000 volcanoes and 90 potentially active, Chile has one of the largest volcanic chains in the world. Indeed, great historical eruptions, such as the eruption of the Calbuco Volcano in 2015, have had regional and global consequences.

In this article, you will learn more about the most active volcanoes located in the beautiful Lake & Volcano District.

Southern Chile

 

araucaria trees chile
The endemic tree forests are the typical landscape of Chile’s Lake and Volcano District

 

From Santiago de Chile to Puerto Montt (the entrance to Patagonia), we find a wide variety of landscapes with lands covered with forests of araucarias and dotted with lagoons, rivers or lakes. Moreover, here and there, we can admire the active volcanoes of the Chilean Lake & Volcano District. They are the perfect spot for nature lovers to enjoy mountain activities, such as hiking, mountain biking & skiing.

Kütralkura Geopark – Lonquimay Volcano

 

lonquimay
Lonquimay Volcano

 

The Lonquimay volcano is located 130 kilometers north-east of Temuco city, in the Araucanía Region. It is part of Chile’s first Geopark. The UNESCO highlighted Kütralkura Global Geopark as one of the most active volcanisms in the world. Indeed, it is geologically located in the heart of the Pacific Ring of Fire.

Surrounded by the magical landscape of Southern Chile, the Lonquimay volcano becomes more attractive as it enters the Andes Mountain Range. In the horizon, we can admire the other volcanoes around like the Llaima, Villarrica, Quetrupillán, Lanín & Sierra Nevada.

 

ski Lonquimay
Summerskiing on the Lonquimay volcano

 

During autumn season, the snows slowly covers the volcano, which makes the area remarkably beautiful. In winter, it is fully covered by snow, in addition to the endemic araucaria tree forests that also get covered by white. This makes it possible to enjoy winter sports at the Corralco Ski Resort, on the slopes of the volcano. During spring and summer, the thaw radically changes the appearance and color of the volcano. Due to the solidified lava constitution, it takes a reddish color, leaving only the eternal ice on top.

Moreover, the attractive summit of the Lonquimay does not only allow us to the natural beauties around, such as the lagoons, rivers, volcanoes, etc. It also gives us the chance to see a tremendous crater, of more than 800-meters long (one of the largest of Chile’s southern volcanoes), completely covered by a glacier.

 

lonquimay winter
Skiing near the summit of the Lonquimay Volcano

 

Regarding its volcanic activity, the Lonquimay became particularly well known for the events that happened during Christmas in 1988. During an eruption that lasted approximately one year, it sculpted a small crater near the north slope. As a result, the “Christmas Crater” was born. Located in the lower part of the Lonquimay, it is possible to visit it with a specialist as it is active.

Conguillío National Park – Llaima Volcano

 

Conguillío National Park Llaima
Conguillío National Park – Llaima Volcano

 

From Temuco city, the Llaima volcano already makes itself noticeable with its three visible peaks. Located 80 kilometers from this city, it is part of the eastern landscape. Also, the Llaima occupies a large part of the Conguillío National Park where it stands out as the highest summit.

The presence of a ski resort located on its western flank makes it the perfect place to visit during winter. Thank to this, it helps in being the most visited volcano in southern Chile. Surrounded by araucarias forests and by beautiful mountain lakes, the Llaima and surroundings give us the opportunity to enjoy wonderful landscapes.

Historically, it is one of the most active volcanoes in South America, and one of the largest in the southern Andes. The western, south-western and eastern flanks possess more than 29 km2 of glaciers. Shape-wise, it is an almost-perfect cone, although it consists of two peaks and about 40 cones of adventitious slag. The northern summit exhibits an open crater of 350-meters wide, and more than 300 meters in depth. Since 1994, the crater presents an active fumarole with gas emission and water vapor. Lastly, the southern summit has remains of a small cone made of slag nested in a blocked crater of about 200 meters.

Regarding the volcanic activity of the Llaima, the historical record includes 48 eruption between 1640 and 2009. During these events, lava flows, lahar formation, pyroclastic projection and occasionally the generation of pyroclastic flows occurred. Finally, the last eruptive cycle began in May 2007, with a weak ash emission.  A moderate strombolian eruption followed with lahar generation in January 2008, culminating in April 2009 with a vigorous strombolian eruption.

 

Villarrica National Park – Villarrica Volcano

 

villarrica volcano
Pichillancahue Glacier located at the foothills of the Villarrica Volcano

 

The Villarrica volcano is an active volcano with the largest historical record of eruptions in Chile, and even South America. Geographically, it is located at the south of the Villarrica Lake, and at the north of the Calafquén Lake. It is a stratovolcano located on a volcanic chain aligning it with the Quetrupillán and Lanín volcanoes.

At the top, we find an open crater of 200 meters of diameter. Generally with continuous fumarole and a quasi-permanent lava lake, whose surface has variable height depending on the moon. Moreover, an important glacier covers the Villarrica, and extends for 30.3 kilometers square.

The volcanic activity of the Villarrica began about 650.000 years ago. Throughout the years, it has developed explosive and effusive eruptions, with the emission of magmatic material essentially. As product of the explosive post-glacial activity, voluminous pyroclastic flows and formation of boilers were generated mainly 13.900 and 3.900 years ago. Lastly, since 1558, there have been about 49 eruptions, mainly of an effusive nature.

The impressive last eruption happened in 2015

The last explosive eruption was recorded on March 3, 2015. It generated a lava source almost 2 km high above the crater. In addition, an almost 12-kilometers tall column of tefra remained held for almost 19 minutes.

 

Besides being the most active volcano, the Villarrica is undoubtedly the main natural attraction in Southern Chile. Indeed, the ski center located at the base of the volcano (1.400 meters) is the perfect spot for summer skiing and snowboarding. As a matter of fact, the resort is one of the most moderns in South America. The infrastructure is great, with 9 ski lifts and 20 ski slopes of different levels of difficulty.

In spring and summer, the base of the Villarrica volcano is perfect for hiking activities. Through the endemic araucaria and nothofagus tree forests, the hiking trails in the area are infinite. However, the most impressive hike to do is certainly the one that takes us to the open-crater. From there, the view is breath-taking and allows us to see the different volcanoes, lakes, lagoons around, and the unmissable Andes as landscape.

 

Villarrica volcano climb
Climbing the Villarrica volcano is a true once-in-a-lifetime experience

Vicente Pérez Rosales National Park – Osorno Volcano

 

osorno volcano
The Osorno volcano is our best companion when cycling around Puerto Varas

 

The Osorno volcano is located approximately 50 kilometers from the quaint city of Puerto Varas, between the Llanquihue & Todos Los Santos Lakes. It belongs to the Vicente Pérez Rosales National Park. It is in this area where volcanism has been, along with tectonic processes and glaciers, the main factors that shaped the Andes mountain range. In fact, the Osorno is a stratovolcano that belongs to the Southern Volcanic Zone of the Andes. It forms a transverse volcanic chain along with the La Picada, Puntiagudo & Cordón Cenizos volcanoes. Like the Villarrica volcano, the summit of the Osorno is covered by a glacier.

The volcanic activity of the Osorno began some 200.000 years ago, building itself as a stratovolcan immersed in the ice field dominating the landscape during the so-called Santa María glacial period. The post-glacial eruptive activity is characterized both by the occurrence of eruptions from the central crater, and by the activity of parasitic centers located on the flanks. Historically, the eruptive activity of the Osorno volcano has been characterized essentially by episodes of low explosivity. As of now, the faint fumarole since the beginning of the 20th century under the ice of the summit seems to have attenuated.

Last, but not least, the Osorno volcano is the highlight of our top bike tour in Chile’s Lake & Volcano District. Indeed, besides getting to cycle your way towards the Petrohue falls, you have the chance to challenge yourself and climb the Osorno volcano as it is South America’s steepest climb.

In Amity, we are blessed to operate our top travel experiences in the beautiful Lake and Volcano District. Together with our friendly team of expert guides, you can explore the best volcanic attractions of southern Chile. Either by hiking, skiing or cycling, the visit of the most active volcanoes in the Pacific Ring of Fire is a must-do when traveling to Chile.

 

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

 

Chile 8 Days Bike and Hike Tour, October, November and December 2015

Discover the Lake & Volcano District hiking and cycling Chile’s southern backroads. From hot springs to rivers, lakes and volcanoes, this Bike & Hike Tour has a little bit of everything. The rides are amazing and with 50-90 km per day, you will experience nature in every ride. You will visit some of Chile´s most charming little villages

Highlights of our Bike and Hike Tour Chile

During 8 days you will visit the following places:

  • Pucon city; Lake Caburgua and Huife Hot Springs
  • Go hiking in Huerquehue and Villarrica National Parks, including Pichillancahue Glacier
  • Bike Chile’s Seven Lakes Route and across the Villarrica National Park

View Tour

Chile to Host the 2015 Adventure Travel World Summit

We are very happy about this GREAT news and we are so excited to meet you in our home!! CHILE IS GOOD!!

Chile has won the bid to host the Adventure Travel World Summit (ATWS) in 2015. The adventure tourism industry’s foremost annual gathering will take place from October 5th to the 8th in the town of Puerto Varas, in the Lake Region of Chile. The Adventure Travel Trade Association (ATTA;  www.adventuretravel.biz) announced the location at the start of TravelMart Latin America. A long-time member and partner of the ATTA, Chile is committed to adventure travel as a path toward sustainable tourism in the country

Read the complete news: Adventure Travel Wordl Summit in Chile 2015

 

Day of an Amity Tours Guide during our Ski Season Chile – Argentina

Each year as winter approaches, it is impossible not to feel that itch that all guides and staff feel when we know that in a few months we will be with tourists on top of a volcano, looking inside the crater and thanking God for allowing us to be there at that exact moment.

The day of an Amity Guide starts from the very beginning, picking up the clients at the airport. The following days that come after meeting everyone and having a great welcome dinner is as follows:

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