5 Off the Grid Places in Chile
Date 03/19/2015 Categories Travel Blog
Chile has a wealth of well-established attractions for travelers – from the Colchagua Wine Valley, to mysterious Easter Island, to cosmopolitan Santiago, to remote Patagonia and the great Atacama Desert. But northern Chile also offers some delightful surprises for those looking for a serious getaway from it all – places to unplug from the office, unwire from the tablet, and detach from the cell phone. A break away gives us opportunities to reconnect and recharge in wonderfully unexpected surroundings. Here, we have selected some of our favorite Chile escapes that are mostly still under the radar.
La Capilla de Caleu
This may be the best kept secret in Chile! About an hour’s drive from Santiago through small country villages is Caleu Valley, home to a small community of 600 people who still live in the colonial past. In 1834, a 23-year-old Charles Darwin, who lived in Chile for a time, hiked this area. This old “town of Indians”, with its singular beauty, had a brief time of prosperity due to the now-defunct gold mines. Today, there are no newspapers, malls, public transportation. And no tourists! What it does have is a great escape into nature. Hike from the mountain village into the Natural Sanctuary Cerro El Roble. Known for its biodiversity, it is a listed world hotspot. Native flora and birds, even condors, may be your only company on the trek to the summit of Cerro El Roble at about 7,240 feet. The summit brags the most spectacular views of the Aconcagua Mountain with the Andes Mountains to the east side and the Pacific Ocean to the west. Re-energize in Caleu on this Patagonia, Atacama & Easter Island journey.
Pucón on Liucura River
Pucón is set in an extraordinary environment of lush native forest. It is also known as the “Entrance of the Cordillera” by local Mapuche. This region of forests, natural parks, lagoons, streams and dramatic volcanoes lets you set your own pace. If you are looking to veg out, you couldn’t ask for a more scenic spot. But if your idea of a break means jumping into nature – hiking, climbing, horseback riding, kayaking, fishing, sailing, biking and exploring – then, this is the ideal starting spot for that adventurous spirit. The village is situated along the shores of the Villarrica Lake at the foot of the active Volcano Villarrica, and it still relatively unknown. In addition to the variety of active adventures, you can also learn about the local indigenous Mapuches, which translates to people of the earth. This ancient civilization has gone through a difficult history, continually facing opposition, but they have remained free and independent. Pucón has a small Mapuche Museum and many places where you can still explore the traditional Mapuche ways of living, eating and socializing. Incorporate this experience into your own personal Custom Chile adventure.
Marble Caves of Carrera Lake
The magnificent Marble Caves are partially submerged in the amazing turquoise waters of Carrera Lake in Patagonia. This is the second largest freshwater lake in South America, and one of the world’s ten deepest lakes with a maximum depth of 589 meters/1932 feet. The system of caves is stunningly beautiful. The lake sits on the border between Chile and Argentina, with the caves located approximately in the middle, on the Chilean side. Three main caves – the Chapel, the Cathedral and La Cueva Cave – can be explored with a small boat or kayak. This rare natural and unspoiled gem is currently threatened by plans to build a huge dam in the area. Experience these remarkable formations on our Chile & Argentina Natures Wonders.
Huilo Huilo, Land of the Mapuche
The Patagonian Forest is a world away from your everyday routine. In addition to plenty of activities that encompass trekking, horseback riding, mountain biking, kayaking, sailing, fishing and more, this area is another locale to delve into the living heritage of the indigenous Mapuche. They accounted for about 85% of the indigenous people of Chile. Because they were spread out and separated into family clans, the Mapuche were able to resist the Spanish invaders for 300 years. They were never conquered. The Mapuche community today is working to maintain its proud heritage through a number of initiatives, including workshops that benefit local students such as art, painting, dance, wood carving, music, and baking and chocolate-making. Take time to interact with members of this community and learn about their traditions, customs and mythology. Explore Chile & the Culture of the Mapuche.
Iquique on the Coast
In July 1835, Charles Darwin, during his voyage on the Beagle, traveled to Iquique and described it as a town “very much in want of everyday necessities, such as water and firewood”. This port city in northern Chile was founded in the 16th century. Its historic district boasts several houses and buildings that showcase the wealth came to this city with the saltpeter boom of the 19th and early 20th centuries. In addition to its rich history, Iquique is a magnet for paragliding enthusiasts, who come to this coastal town for its cliffs, large dunes, wind currents and fairly consistent weather that make it possible to paraglide nearly year-round. If you want to jump into ancient history during your off-the-road getaway, petrogylphs carved into rocks, and geoglyphs, giant images carved into mountainsides, are found in several parts of northern Chile, including in the valleys of Azapa and Lluta near Arica, just 60 miles from Iquique. Add Iquique in to Patagonia, Southern Ice Fields & Northern Chile journey.