Friday, June 15, 2007

Parque Huerquehue

Unless Pucón is your destination because you intend to climb the volcano, Parque Huerquehue is by far the best attraction in the vicinity. In a park consisting of 12,500 hectares of native forest, a spectacular views awaits those willing to endure a moderately strenuous hike, including an incredible waterfall, three lakes, and finally, at its peak, snow (even in the summer, under normal conditions).

The highlight of the park is the native monkey puzzle (Araucaria) forests. The park is enjoyable all year round, although the hotter months (December – March) are advantageous to those who wish to swim in the crystal clear waters of its lakes.

Transportation to Parque Huerquehue can be found in Pucón by microbus every morning for a very modest fee.

Wednesday, June 06, 2007

Santiago, Chile

Santiago is the capital of Chile, and is also the largest city in Chile, with a population of around 6.2 million people. Santiago was founded in 1541 by Pedro de Valdivia, the Spanish conquistador who founded Chile.

Santiago is now a modern metropolis, and is one of the most important financial centers in Latin America. It is also home to La Moneda presidential palace.

La Moneda

Metropolitan Cathedral

Santiago is a culturally diverse city, with inhabitants from all over the world. It is a good place to visit if you are looking for other English speaking people living in Chile. There are restaurants of all types of foods, and all price ranges.

The easiest method of transportation in Santiago is to use the subway. Due to recent changes in the mass transit system, it can be very crowded at times. But it is much easier to use than the bus system, although the buses may be necessary if the Subway doesn't take you to your destination.

Most people that visit Chile also visit Santiago, partly because it is the location of the international airport, but mostly because of all that it has to offer. Of course, if your reasons for coming to Chile are to get away from the fast pace of modern life and enjoy untouched natural areas, it is best to head south as soon as you arrive.

Friday, April 20, 2007

Pucón, Chile

Pucón is undoubtedly the biggest tourist attraction of southern Chile, and an excellent example of a city that has found great success by embracing ecotourism. For lovers of nature or adventure sports, Pucón has it all.

The small town of Pucón is on the shore of Lake Villarrica, with a view of Volcano Villarrica, an active volcano, looming over the city. These two features, along with thousands of acres of national parks are what make Villarrica a popular tourist destination for people from all over the world. With such activities as boating, fishing, water-skiing, mountain climbing, backpacking, white-water rafting, kayaking, and hot springs, there is something for everybody in Pucón and its surrounding areas.

In the summer Pucón is a very crowded city, and the main beach on Lake Villarrica is full of people, but before January and after February the town is very peaceful, and the weather is still warm enough for most outdoor activities. There are several low cost hostels, as well as some higher priced cabins. Another option for budget travelers is to take a 15 minute bus ride to Villarrica, where slightly cheaper accommodations can be found.

Tuesday, March 13, 2007

Parque Oncol

Parque Oncol is a 754 hectare preserve of native Chilean temperate rainforest, and is an excellent day trip to make from Valdivia. The park has an office on the Valdivia River, which runs tours daily, by boat or by van.

Inside the park there are several trails, one of which reaches several lookout towers that over an amazing view of the Pacific Ocean and Valdivia. The park is excellent for birdwatchers and nature lovers. The forest consists mainly of Canelo trees, a tree which was considered sacred by the Mapuche Indians.

For adventure seekers, the park has an extensive canopy tour, which is the best in the area, and offers a unique way to view the top of the forest.

Saturday, March 10, 2007


Valdivia is a vibrant town in southern Chile located on Rio Valdivia, just before it flows into the Pacific. The town, originally one of the most prosperous and industrious cities in Chile, was destroyed by the earthquake of 1960, whose epicenter was only 10 km away. The town has since been rebuilt, but is somewhat less industrial.

Valdivia is unique for its mix of German and Chilean culture. In the 1850s many German immigrants were attracted to Valdivia, and built breweries and other factories, and brought modern agriculture methods to the area. One such brewery is Kunstmann, which is located just outside Valdivia. Visitors can try the different types of beer, as well as eating traditional German dishes. Each year in January Kunstmann holds Bierfest, which is a smaller version of Oktoberfest.

Valdivia is also a great destination for nature lovers, as the surrounding wetlands and temperate rainforest offer spectacular natural sites. In the summer, canoes and kayaks can be rented, and boat tours can be taken to view the surrounding areas. There are several large nature parks nearby, the most popular being Parque Oncol.

Valdivia is also the location of the Universidad Austral de Chile, a public university located along the Rio Cruce and Rio Valdivia. The highlight of the university is its large botanical garden featuring trees from all over the world.

For those who wish to spend the night in Valdivia, there are many hotels and cabins. A cheaper and more scenic option, however, is to take a short bus ride to Niebla, and stay in a cabin along the mouth of Rio Valdivia and the Pacific Ocean.

Puerto Saavedra and Lago Budi

Puerto Saavedra is a small costal town directly east of Temuco, making it the closest trip to the ocean from Temuco. Although it has yet to catch on as a popular tourist area, Puerto Saavedra has much to offer.

The highlight of Puerto Saavedra is a peninsula, with several 4 kilometers of ocean beach, called Playa Maule. This peninsula is the former location of the mouth of the Imperial River, which was destroyed in the earthquake of 1960. Above the beach is a large hill extending the length of the peninsula, which offers varying landscapes from sand dunes to a pine forest, all of which offer great places for camping and hiking.

At the start of the peninsula is Cerro Mirador, a very high hill with a lookout tower that offers a panoramic view of the landscape. A short walk or bus ride from Puerto Saavedra is Boca Budi, a small strip of land between the Pacific Ocean and Lago Budi, one of the only saltwater lakes in South America. Here there is a small community of summer houses and a few cabins and restaurants. Continuing on to Lago Budi, which is best done in car or boat (local tour guides can be contracted, and a free ferry service is offered), and many original Mapuche communities can be found, along with breathtaking natural areas and a wide variety of unique animals, such as the black-necked swan.