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.

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”.

 

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0o2N7EE4-g8&list=PLzV6yGh6hXDaQ9wbClUj7lhey1PCtLdtx&index=2&ab_channel=GabrielM.R

 

 

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.

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