Araucanía Travel Guide:
General information: The region is located in the south of the country (although southern Chile is a relative concept) and it has approximately one million inhabitants. The capital is Temuco and the currency is the Chilean peso as in the rest of the country. In terms of language, the official language is Spanish, but Mapudungun, one of the chilean indigenous languages is also used. I visited the region several times, so I went to different places: I visited Temuco, Capitán Pastene, Lumaco, Lautaro, Villarica and Pucón. In the previous article I spoke about the commune of Lumaco, to which Capitán Pastene also belongs, and of Lautaro. In this article I am going to focus on Villarica and Pucón, the tourist centers of the region. The only place I will not talk about is Temuco, because, although I had my accommodation there almost always when I went to the region, I never got to know the city, only surroundings. Sometimes it´s just like this. I always was telling my friends that I was going to Temuco and then I returned without knowing that city, but knowing everything else around. Typical for me.
How to get there?
If you come from other Chilean cities, there are buses. And if not, Temuco airport is nearby, so you can go by plane anyway. And there is the option to go by car, the most practical, in my opinion.
Where to stay?
Well, since I was living in Chile for a while and since I am a sociable person and I have friends and people who love me even in the most remote places of this world, so in my case, all the 100 000 times (do you understand that I am exaggerating?) that I went to south only a few times I had to pay for the accommodation. But, under the assumption that you don’t know anyone there, you will have to look for accommodation. And it’s not a problem. It’s one of the most adapted parts for tourists in the whole country. There are hotels, hostels, houses and apartments for rent, camping…
Where to eat?
There are very good restaurants, in Villarica I had a phenomenal pizza and I also brought food (I think empanadas) to take away, because I realized that I was in a paradise, and I wanted to take at least a small part of it with me. In Pucón there is also everything, but what I remember most is a very, but very good ice cream.
Tourist attractions in Villarica and Pucón:
1) Lake Villarica – in Villarica, as in Pucón, you can walk by the lake, or sit down for a coffee, resting your mind when you look at the lake. I did that, and there is no better feeling that just staring at the water and in the background see the volcano. The landscape in these two cities is very picturesque, you are surrendered to the power of nature. We have nothing left but to enjoy every moment. You can also go on a tour with the boat on the lake, it’s quite cheap and also nice.
2) handicraft fair – one of the legacies of the indigenous people definitely are the craft fairs that offer products made by people who live in the area, that is, they are not imported. This is a real jewel, because in Europe there are so many souvenirs to buy that are not from the area but imported from China or other third countries. And when there is excessive consumerism, the notion of the autochthonous is lost. People want to buy as many souvenirs as possible to collect dust at home or to give their friends and don’t care if those products that show the countries where they were in fact don’t come from those countries, but from third countries. It’s very good to see that in Chile in several places they insist on having products from the area and with materials from there. In that aspect, we could learn a lot from the Chileans.
3) National Park Villarica – is located in Pucón and is one of the most impressive places I visited in my life. I really lost a bit when I climbed the volcano (I didn’t climb to the top, you cannot without a guide). And to explain, I didn’t get lost physically, but in that other way. That feeling when something impresses you in such a way that you don’t know exactly where you are or why you move in the direction that you move, but you do move. Your impulses tell you that you have to know more, you have to get lost in that volcano, and at one point you have to stop and only observe those spectacular views. I had never felt interest in volcanoes, and maybe that’s why the surprise was bigger. I didn’t expect that landscape. I was crazy, I felt like in a science fiction movie. Yes, that was the first thing I thought. That it could not be real. But, nature often exceeds the human imagination. We can imagine, but nature creates.
Personal observation: From the previous part of the text you could realize that my way of writing about these cities is kind of poetic. And it cannot be otherwise. The common words are not enough to describe the south of Chile, it is too beautiful. Sometimes I really lack of word to describe the exceptional beauty of this magical country. You have to use special words, but sometimes they are not enough either. However, I will try. Villarica is a very nice little town, it surprised me with an excellent sculpture made of wood, which, depending on the side of which one observes it, shows us something else. Another perspective, another vision, but made of the same wood. In that we can summarize the history of the Araucanía region. The X, who one day arrived to this land (for the needs of that text we are going to call them X), have one vision of the universe, they have their world apart, and the Y, who arrived at another time, have a different vision of that same land and what she can offer. At the same time the X and the Y have a vision of the other, and they have a really different cosmovision. So, it’s a region of several visions and concepts, which is very well reflected in the sculpture.
And then, Pucón. That wonderful city, with many wooden houses, as usually happens in the south of Chile. With the lake, the volcano, many species of birds that with their singing embellish what is already beautiful. The feeling of peace and beauty captivated me in that beautiful city. At each step there is something peculiar, something that attracts attention. They are details, and one complements the other, reaching perfection. Or something even better. The photos I have can clearly show the aesthetic beauty of a place, but I can never show what happened inside me when I saw all this. What I perceived was left only in me and it’s now that I try to express it. Pucón is really a special experience, one of those that enrich your life. There, in the volcano, I felt completely happy. I also felt that way when I stayed in a wooden house in the middle of the woods, when all I heard was that song of birds, that song that will remain engraved in my mind forever.