The Natural Splendor And Beautiful Culture Of Chile
Chile: A diversity of culture and landscape that is unmatched in the world. This amazing place will dazzle the eye and move the soul. Come and journey with us in this magical land and connect with ancient traditions of all kinds.
This experience allows you to truly immerse yourself in the culture of Chile. Start your journey exploring the beautiful landscape and natural wonder of Nahuelbuta National Park and all its glory. From there embark on a cultural exploration of one of Chile's most unique indigenous groups: The Mapuche. Learn of their life, spend time experiencing their daily life, and come to understand how ancient traditions and the modern world interact. You will truly come to hear deeply the story of the people, told by them, in the beautiful surroundings of Chile's mountains and forests.
Mapuche Culture and History
The Mapuche are a group of indigenous inhabitants of south-central Chile and southwestern Argentina, including parts of present-day Patagonia. The range of ethnicity and background is wide-ranging with the common thread for all the disparate groups their shared rituals, economic system, history, and language which is Mapudungun.
The Mapuche traditional economy is based on agriculture; their traditional social organization consists of extended families, under the direction of a lonko, or chief. In times of war, Mapuche would unite in larger groupings and elect a toki (meaning "axe, axe-bearer") to lead them. Mapuche are known for the textiles woven by women, which have been goods for trade for centuries, since before the arrival of European explorers.
Archaeological finds have shown the existence of a Mapuche culture in Chile and Argentina as early as 600 to 500 BC. Genetically Mapuches differ from the adjacent indigenous peoples of Patagonia. This suggests a "different origin or long lasting separation of Mapuche and Patagonian populations."
The modern relationship of the Mapuche and the country, citizens, and economies of Chile is complicated. The Mapuche have been very active and vocal in fighting for their land rights and the rights of their history, culture, and way of life to be heard. In recent years both domestic and international corporate interests have sought to strip the Mapuche of their rights in order to open up commerce and extraction of resources. These conflicts can become violent at times and have erupted in mass protests in the capital city of Santiago.
Nahuelbuta National Park
Nahuelbuta National Park is one of the few parks located in La Araucanía Region of Chile's Coastal Mountain Range. It sits atop the highest part of the Cordillera de Nahuelbuta. Created in 1939, it consists of 6,832 hectares situated just 162 km northeast of Temuco. Nahuelbuta is a sanctuary for Monkey Puzzle trees, with specimens dating back 2,000 years.
In addition to the Monkey Puzzle trees, the park is also home to coigüe, ñirre, oak, lenga, orchids, carnivorous plants. The park provides habitat for the mountain lion, the pudú, a small Chilean deer, and Darwin's fox. Among the birds are the Magellanic woodpecker, the Andean tapaculo and the chucao tapaculo.
Enjoy a day on your own in this vibrant city. Go to one of the parks to relax, or go to the top of San Cristobal hill for amazing views, especially at sunset time. Visit the Memorial Museum of the dictatorship if you are interested in Chilean politics, or the Pre-Columbian Museum if you are interested in the first nations of this country. As you can see, there are many options to choose from.
Meet The Elicura Valley Community
Over the next four days you will engage in amazing adventures with a people who live in intimate relationship to the land. This is a chance to connect to something greater.
February 10th: Upon arrival to the town of Contulmo, Manuel (your local guide for the following days) will take you to the Mapuche valley of Elicura, only 10 mins away. The Mapuche are the traditional inhabitants of these lands, and they are thriving once more, after centuries of oppression, military and political pursuit. Once at Manuel’s house, enjoy a delicious breakfast and then check-in. Rest for a while and then prepare for your first activity. As an introduction to the Mapuche culture, you will visit several houses in the valley, learning to spin wool, weaving in the loom or prepare traditional gastronomy (which of course you will taste!). After a nice nap, put on your hiking boots and head to the Contulmo Natural Monument, where Manuel will guide you on a hike through this ancient forest. Then, head back to Manuel’s for a nice dinner and talk beside the fire.
February 11th: This morning we will visit a Ruka (traditional Mapuche house) and have a deep conversation with a traditional authority of the Mapuche culture. We will share mates (traditional infusion), bread baked on ashes and conversation around the history of the Mapuche nation in the last centuries. After another delicious lunch of traditional cuisine, we will visit the Mapuche Museum of Cañete, a historical city in relation to the conflict with the Spaniard Conquerors. With our minds full of stories, we will head back to Elicura to prepare for the following day hike.
February 12th: Get your hearts and bodies ready because today is a hiking day! After breakfast, we head north towards the Nahuelbuta National Park. With relict forest from ancient days, the highlight of this park is the Araucaria tree, rising high above the ground. Our hike will take us through these beautiful forests into the top of the mountains from which, on a clear day, we will be able to see the never-ending Pacific Ocean and the snow-peak volcanoes of the Andes. A stunning view. Being up in the mountains, we will share a box lunch together and then head back to Elicura, for a grand finale to this amazing day: A hot tub bath with medicinal herbs, especially prepared to recover the energy. Then, it’s dinner, fireplace and bed time.
February 13th: Take a nice morning off to walk around the valley, or work a bit at the orchard to shake your muscles, or help Manuel prepare traditional culinary delicacies like merken (smoked chili powder), caco (boiled and pealed wheat) or murke (toasted wheat flour). Then start packing your gear in order to start your journey to the mountains after lunch. In the afternoon, take a guided visit to the town of Contulmo, their mill and traditional German houses, learning about the history of relationship between them and the Mapuche people. Dinner is back at the Elicura valley.
The Pehuenche Community Of Quinquen
The next five days will be spent living in close harmony and intimate connection with the people of Quinquen. These are a loving, welcoming people who depend on the land for their survival and have much to teach about their way of life. The opportunity to connect to yourself, the people, and to something bigger than yourself are present at every turn if only you will look.
February 14th: Today you will grab a morning bus from Contulmo and head toward the valley of Lonquimay near the border with Argentina. Once in town, a transfer will take you to the Pehuenche community of Quinquen. Upon arrival, receive a warm welcome by your hosts: the people of Quinquen. The Pehuenche people are the ancient inhabitants of the high mountains in these lands. They consider the araucaria as a sacred tree, since they rely on its fruit as a main source of food. They have learned to make their living in hard winter conditions, with short summer and little space for agriculture. They are herders and forest collectors. Thus, they know the forest like no one else and they will be your guides in the following days. Enjoy a nice dinner and then go to bed in their cozy family stays.
February 15th: With Alex, the local guide, you will go into mountains and ancient forests of the community, listening to stories of how Pehuenche people have lived in these lands for so many years. On your way back, you will refill energies with a typical Pehuenche lunch, and our spirits with an unforgettable conversation with one of the Elders of the community. During the night, you will stay at local family accommodation.
February 16th: We will wake up early to do farm work: feed animals, collect chicken eggs and walk around, learning about the typical Pehuenche livelihood. Later, we will go to experience the Condores Trail. Watching the landscape conformed by Galletué Lake and Batea Mahuida Volcano is a real spectacle. With our local guide, we will hike through this light trail and enjoy the wonderful views and stories about the area. In the afternoon, we can enjoy Quinquen surrounded by the peaceful environment, walk at our own pace and if we wish, go out for a horse ride*.
*Horse ride not included. Ask us for prices and options.
February 17th: In the morning, after a proper breakfast, you will head to the Ad Mahuida Trail, which has been specially prepared to see the forest and feel the spiritual beings that dwell in these mountains. Araucaria, Lenga and Ñirre trees will be your partners through this beautiful hike. In the afternoon, you will participate in wool spinning and weaving workshop, guided by a woman of the community. The wool here is completely natural and they try to use only natural fibers for dyeing.
February 18th: As a grand finale, you will traverse through the Lifkan Mahuida Trail that will take you through Lenga tree forests and you will get a unique view of the Quinquen valley. On our way back, you will enjoy the last lunch, sharing with the family that has been your host these last days. In the afternoon, you will be transferred back to Lonquimay to walk around town. During the evening, you will get a bus back to Santiago (in comfortable reclining seats), arriving the next morning.
Today we will go to Valparaiso, the UNESCO World Heritage Site, a cliff-clinging seaside town. Early morning after breakfast, you a transfer will take you to the bus station where you will ride a bus to Valparaiso. Once there, our local guide will be waiting you to visit the oldest neighbourhood of the city with a local poet, interesting characters and beautiful views towards the colourful hills.
You will begin the journey from the atrium of the Church of La Matriz, in the foundational sector of Valparaíso to visit the oldest temple in the city. Then we will visit the social dining room 421, where we will get to know the social work carried out by neighbours and volunteers in aid of the homeless brothers. Afterwards, we will go up the stairs of the Santo Domingo hill, that keeps countless secrets of architecture and heritage and is the first one inhabited in the city.
You will arrive at the house of 'La Chinita', who will receive you in her home to enjoy lunch with a pleasant conversation about life in Buenos Aires neighbourhood. After a nice meal, you will return to the city centre through the patrimonial zone of the hill and walk around town, visiting those hidden-away places where the local communities meet and make their living in one of the most famous ports in the world.
Finally, you will visit La Sebastiana Museum*, house of Pablo Neruda, and then back to Santiago in bus. Once you arrive in the bus station, a transfer will pick you up and take you to your accommodation.
*Entrance fee to La Sebastiana is not included, bring $7,000 CLP.