Recently, one of our Chilean partners invited us to check out a new hiking route and itinerary they will soon be launching.
The trip took us to “Mapu Lahual”, on the coastline of Chile´s Lake District. During 5 days we trekked through larch and temperate rainforests and along beautiful rivers and pristine beaches. We stayed with local Mapuche families and learned about their ancient traditions. We fell in love with Mapu Lahual, its landscapes, its people.
Here are 10 reasons why everybody who loves trekking as much as we do should add this community based hiking tour to his Chile itinerary.
1. Avoid the Crowds
Chile has plenty of great hiking regions. But – let´s face it – some of them, unfortunately become pretty overcrowded during the high season months. The trekking route in Mapu Lahual is still one of the countries best kept secrets and you will travel off the beaten track, meeting only a couple of fellow hikers on the trail.
2. Learn about Mapuche Culture
The Mapu Lahual area belongs to the Williche Mapuches and luckily their culture is still present. We had the honor to travel with Lonko Carlos Paillamanque, the leader of the local Mapuche community who taught us about his and his ancestors´culture and we even learned some words in their language – mari mari!
3. Admire idyllic Landscapes and Virgin Nature
A piece of paradise awaits you in Mapu Lahual: its trails lead through ancient forests, along cliffs with stunning ocean views, towards blue rivers and white sand beaches with turquoise water. Mapu Lahual means “Alerce territory” and among a variety of other native trees like Myrtle and Coihues you will encounter the Alerce, South America´s largest tree species.
4. Share with Locals
Accommodation during this hike is at the home of local families and sharing with your hosts will give you an authentic inside into the daily life of the people that live in this area. Immerse into the local lifestyle and try out the local fishing techniques, watch the preparations of the family dinner, and join conversations while sharing the traditional “mate” drink.
5. Disconnect your Mind and Cellphone
Mapu Lahual is a truly remote area, only accessible by water or hiking trails. Wifi is not available and mobile connection is rare. The perfect opportunity to switch off your cell phone, take a digital detox brake, enjoy the peace and tranquility around you, and recharge your soul’s battery.
6. Support Conservation & Ecotourism
The Mapu Lahual park network was created by the indigenous communities of this area with the objective of preserving local traditions, increasing the awareness of the importance of conserving the native forest for future generations, and using Ecotourism as an alternative income and employment source for the local families.
7. Feel the Adventure
Even though the distances covered are moderate, the hikes include some steep ascents and varied terrain as hiking over rocks, some muddy sections, plus some stream and river crossings.
8. Try Authentic Local Food
Breakfast and dinner will be at the houses of the families that host you, which will be a great opportunity to try out local food such as the freshly baked “pan amasado” bread, recently caught seafood or the unique blue eggs laid by the Mapuche chicken species.
9. Enjoy the Beach and Water Sports
Relax on the beautiful beaches after the long hiking days, take a swim or practice some water sports. At Caleta Condor there is the possibility to scuba dive or alternatively kayak.
10. Reflect about Life
The simplicity and rural lifestyle in this area might be amazing for those of us used to all the commodities of urban life, making us reflect about the really essential things in life. Step out of your comfort zone for a moment and open your mind for a travel experience that might have a lasting impact on your life.