SECRETS OF ARAUCANIA
7 days / 6 nights
This self-drive trip takes you through the heartland of the Mapuche, Chile´s largest indigenous group. From the Andes to the Pacific Ocean, pass through spectacular landscapes with lakes, volcanoes and the striking monkey puzzle trees (“araucarias”) for which this region is famous. Off the beaten path, you´ll have the opportunity to get to know the traditions and lifestyle of both the Pehuenche Mapuche in the Andes as well as the coastal Lafkenche Mapuche.
20 km / 12 mi; 30 min drive
Your tour through the Araucanía region begins at the airport of Temuco, where you pick up your rental car and drive to your hotel in the nearby city centre. We recommend visiting the city hill Ñielol with its own observatory and museum.
Overnight in Temuco.
150 km / 95 mi; 3 h drive
We highly recommend visiting Temuco´s market after breakfast, before continuing your trip to the Quinquen Reserve in the Andes Mountains. On the way, marvel at the volcanoes Lonquimay and Llama in the distance, and stop for a visit at the waterfalls “La princesa” and “Del Indio”. You´ll pass beneath Sierra Nevada Volcano through the “Tunel Los Raíces”, once South America´s longest tunnel, before arriving at the Pehuenche indigenous reserve of Quinquen. Here you stay with a local family.
Overnight at a basic accommodation at a Pehuenche family home. (B)
260 km / 160 mi; 4,5 h drive
Start the day with a morning walk through forests of monkey puzzle trees (“araucarias”), together with your native hosts who consider them holy. Afterwards continue your journey on the Interlagos Route through the spectacular landscape of the Araucanía Region. You´ll pass by Gualletue National Reserve, Conguillío National Park and the town of Pucón before reaching today´s final destination, the small town of Curarrehue, in the Andes foothills.
Overnight in Curarrehue. (B)
Today is at leisure in the village of Curarrehue, where the influence of the Mapuche Indigenous people can still be felt strongly. Spend the day hiking in the astonishing surroundings of Araucaria forests and deep blue lakes. The “Los Pozones” Hot Springs is the best option for an evening of deep relaxation.
Overnight in Curarrehue. (B)
170 km / 105 mi; 3 h drive
From Curarrehue in Chile´s Eastern extreme on the Argentinian border, drive back along Villarrica Lake and continue westwards until you reach the town of Mehuín on the Pacific Coast. Thanks to its beautiful sandy beach, is one of the most important seaside resorts in the “Region of the Rivers”. Staying in an indigenous community of the Lafkenche people allows you to learn more about their history and culture, as well as the challenges of a traditional lifestyle in a modern economy and state.
Overnight in Mehuín. (B)
70 km / 40 mi; 1,5 h drive
Enjoy stunning views on today´s drive along the Pacific Coast north to Budi Lake. Your destination is the small town of Llaguepulli, which still houses several Lafkenche indigenous communities. You have the opportunity to their stories about their culture, religion and traditional medicine while staying in a Ruka, the traditional Mapuche housing.
Overnight in a family Ruka. (B)
85 km / 50 mi; 1,5 h drive
Your exploration of the Araucanía Region´s best guarded secrets ends today. After breakfast, enjoy some last views over the vastness of the Pacific Ocean at the beach of nearby Puerto Saavedra. From here, return to Temuco Airport and drop off your rental car. Take a flight back home via Santiago or decide on one of many options for continuing your journey through Chile from here. (B)