Travel writing, tips, and perspectives from an American living in Temuco, Chile.
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.