2 weeks in Chile, Summer: Chile Valle Central fotos

Chile's flag
South America » Chile
February 14th 2005
Published: June 26th 2006
Edit Blog Post

I rented a car in Santiago and drove over 3000 kilometers through the country. At my furthest point in the city of Castro on Chiloe Island, I was further south than anywhere in Australia, Africa and most of New Zealand. Why Chile? It is said:

"When God created the world he had a handful of everything left: mountains, rainforests, deserts, oceans, cactus, lakes, glaciers, volcanoes-and he put it all in his pocket. But there was a hole in this pocket, and as God walked across heaven it all trickled out, and the long trail it made on the earth was Chile."
-- Anonymous

Along the way to the south, my first stop was in Chillan to meet with my friend Noelia. She's a high school teacher and speaks great English. When I met her for the first time it was for lunch with 2 of her friends. It went well, they were all really cool people and Noelia and I hit it off. That night we all went drinking. The next day Noelia and I visited an arboretum and old mine in Concepcion, crossing the enormous Bio-Bio river, Chile's largest. That night we went out for Mexican Food(just like home!) in Chillan, after all it was Valentine's Day! We danced most of that night away to the music which, to my ear, was all "Latin Music". Noelia however could make out the subtle differences: Cuban, Argentinian, Columbian, Spanish, Mexican and Chilean. But both of us knew the origin of the song "Like a Virgin" and "Girls Just Wanna Have Fun", which would be played at the most random times! Think face paced Salsa and Mamba, couples dancing in a flurry to the piana and trumpets- then the DJ cuts to Cyndi Lauper... which ironically would bring everyone else who wasn't dancing to the floor. We then spent the next day at the rocky coast of Playa Cobquecura. It was these first days I cherish the most out of all my travels.

From there, I ventured on my own to do many things: I went camping and hiking in P.N. Conguillo, river rafting in the Andes at Villarica and Pucon, hot springing and fine dining at Puyehue, saw summertime fireworks and had late nights in Puerto Varas, ate Curantos in Puerto Montt, visited waterfalls and volcanoes in Petrohue, drove to the fjords and turquoise green waters of Puelo, saw wild penguins on Chiloe Island and hiked in the ancient rain forests of Alerce Andino. I spent most of my time in the far south with Fernanda, a tour guide and college student. She was a super cool Chilena, chain smoker and liked to have a few beers now and then. Fluent in German and English, Fernanda's knowledge of her region and country was astounding. I don't see how I would have had a meaningful time without her!

Even through all this traveling though, something was oddly different, yet substantially similar about the experience's I was having there.

Im usually very oriented to my environment: I always know which way is north, the names of most trees
Lago Arco Iris, Volcan LlaimaLago Arco Iris, Volcan LlaimaLago Arco Iris, Volcan Llaima

Conguillio National Park
and plants, the biomes I live in and biomes I live near, the names of all the national parks and locations of hot springs, the phase of the moon and position of the stars.

In Chile, none of these things were the same. The sun and moon move along the northern horizon, making north seem south. The plants are totally different, yet the landscapes looked strikingly similar. Chilean forests are lush and enchanting, yet there are no native Pines, Firs or Cedar trees in the high mountains. Like California, Chile has a vast array of National Parks lining its mountains. but unlike California, I knew few of the names or what to expect when visiting the. At night the stars of the southern hemisphere are completely different, while Orion and the Moon are upside down. Going south in Chile is like going north, the weather gets colder and wetter the further you go. Every mountain seems to be unnamed, untamed and familiar.
Huaso spurs, EspuelasHuaso spurs, Espuelas

Huaso spurs, Espuelas

Flying in Santiago was like flying into LA... lots Spanish, big city feel(6 million people), big mountains at your back, gorgeous Mediterranean weather, a huge metropolis and lots of freeway. The similarities to California's climate and geography were striking. This feeling of being in a place so similar to home, yet so fundamentally different still is with me to this day.

The Chileans are a very homogeneous people. They are all thin(except for the potato lovers of Chiloe island), have dark hair, are very friendly and very happy people. All of the girls in my demographic were gorgeous, in 15 days I must have seen more beautiful women than in the last 2 years traveling around the United
Sunset over the Sierra NevadaSunset over the Sierra NevadaSunset over the Sierra Nevada

Conguillio National Park
States. Besides ugly girls, the most noticable thing missing was different ethnicities. I saw no African-Americans, people, no gringos, no East Indians, no Asians. While some people rightedly point out that this diversity is what makes America so great, being the rare caucasion outsider in this Latin culture so recently open to the world was quite pleasant! Most people don't own cars; they ride the bus, micros(mini-buses), collectivos(crowded taxis that follow routes) and taxis. You can ride to work, the gym, the store every day and visit Santiago once a month for only $50, so it makes sense so few people had cars. There was also the undeveloped feel of Chile. There were lots and lots of dirt roads, anything that wasn't a main road was dirt. Its like a step in the past, for almost every public road in the United Sates that isn't in a National Forest is paved. It felt exactly like California, but 20 or 30 years ago. And while Chile may have unpaved roads, cheap land and cheap houses, they also have a wealth of natural resources: clean water and electricity because of the many rivers flowing from the Andes. The damming of Chile's rivers
Southern Beech ForestSouthern Beech ForestSouthern Beech Forest

Conguillio National Park
come with a price however, such as losing the best whitewater river in Central Chile, the Bio Bio. 3 out of 7 dams were constructed along its length, flooding Araucaria Forests, Hot Springs byt eh river, the best rafting sections and native land to the Pehuenche people. Currently in Patagonian Chile, XI Región de Aysén, fights a hard battle against a major Dam project on Chile's greatest Patagonia River, the Rio Baker.
Agua de la Vida, Mt. Chile/Japon Agua de la Vida, Mt. Chile/Japon

Agua de la Vida, Mt. Chile/Japon

Rio and Cipréses at UrriolaRio and Cipréses at Urriola

Rio and Cipréses at Urriola

November 1st 2009
The Cypress Forests of Mediterranean Chile
at Agua de la Vida with the birdsat Agua de la Vida with the birds

at Agua de la Vida with the birds

There was lots of forestry, large scale plantations of Monterey Pine(Native to North America) and Eucalyptus(native to Australia) trees. These two trees which comprised forests stretching for many miles were unmistakably like the California coast. Lots of Native Chilean forest was clear cut to make room for these operations, and this practice of destroying native forest continues to this day.

I feel the need to return to Chile, because it feels like I could make a difference there. Here in California, all the rules are set in place: the forests are protected, the houses are expensive, the people are intoxicated with the riches of their economic development and international acclaim. In Chile they are humbled by 8.0
Chilean Girls Part IIChilean Girls Part IIChilean Girls Part II
magnitude earthquakes every 40 years, happy for recently breaking free from a Dictatorship, reminded daily of the hole in the Ozone layer. They live in a land of many riches, having the fastest growing economy in the Americas for the last 20 years. They live in an agricultural and outdoor adventure hot spot, with the pacific ocean on one side and the towering Andes Mountains at their backs. Their future is very humbling and very bright, but it's not a future that's on the center stage. That sounds perfect to me....

Additional photos below
Photos: 93, Displayed: 27


Cochamo ChurchCochamo Church
Cochamo Church
Volcan Osorno-2652 metersVolcan Osorno-2652 meters
Volcan Osorno-2652 meters

Fernanda with the local favorite: Curantos. Traditionally steamed in a smoldering pit: Potatoes, Bread Cakes, Clams, Mussels, Sausages, Ribs, Drumsticks, Soup, Bread and of course Beer.
Volcan Puntiagudo, Petrohue FallsVolcan Puntiagudo, Petrohue Falls
Volcan Puntiagudo, Petrohue Falls
Lizard, Alerce AndinoLizard, Alerce Andino
Lizard, Alerce Andino
Glaciers, Volcan LlaimaGlaciers, Volcan Llaima
Glaciers, Volcan Llaima
Chilean Temperate RainforestChilean Temperate Rainforest
Chilean Temperate Rainforest

"He who does not know Chilean Forests does not know the world" --Pablo Neruda
Cochamo RiverCochamo River
Cochamo River

5 miles upstream lies "The Yosemite of Chile", with 1000 meter vertical walls of granite, alpine lakes and virgin Old growth Alerce Forest
Puerto VarasPuerto Varas
Puerto Varas
Overview of the Trip-Looking North from Chiloe IslandOverview of the Trip-Looking North from Chiloe Island
Overview of the Trip-Looking North from Chiloe Island

20th July 2006

Hi there. Great blog on Chile. I can't wait until I get there (finally!) next year! Keep up the good work.
1st September 2006

Great work!
Incredible photos Stephen, as usual. Your blog captured much of Chile's charm, great read!
20th December 2006

Spent some time on Menorca Espana. Fond memories. This is GOOD. Thanks again for posting it.
8th February 2007

Lindas Fotos
Felicitaciones por tus fotos.........muestran la variedad de paisajes de Chile¡¡¡¡
12th April 2007

Chilean women are great. All beautiful, friendly, and...truth be told, not at all "difficult". Untapped natural resource!
1st May 2007

thanks for the beatiful words about my country,i am from chillan,and i am glad u like my country, i like yours to ,right know i am living in sandpoint,idaho and i really miss chile,but i found your website and i saw all the pictures,makes me feel happy.
2nd May 2007

Mil Gracias
muchos gracias minedy! Me parece que Sandpoint esta una lugar majestuoso. Los Rocky Mountains esta unico para America, oajala que se gustarlo! Yo necisito mas tiempo alla tambien. Gracias otro vez, mas gallerias de mi ultimo viaje en Chile(april 2007) muy pronto!
23rd June 2007

What a well written and informative blog. Thanks, sincerely, for writing it.
4th July 2007

this is so good, thanks for this page n pic about my town : vilcun is my life n the mountains of the country thanks this makes me feel happy
6th April 2008

I'm jealous....
that you got to visit PN Conguillio. We were hoping for some up close volcano action but the park was closed (and is still closed I believe)
11th April 2008

chile is such a lovly place. i saw that u never had pictures of la laguna san rafael...did u not go and visit that? its such a lovly journy i did it...i come from chile and went back there in 2005 till 2007
11th April 2008

sin hielo
No I didn't visit the Laguna San Rafael! I'm saving it for a later time. :) It looks incredible though, I cant wait to explore all of the Carretera Austral Region someday!!
20th May 2008

carretera austral
The C. Austral is the best of all! Simply stunning! Take your time. Don't speed by all that beauty! take care al
3rd July 2008

Awesome blog, thank you for sharing it, I've to Chile twice and never took any pictures just admired it, if you ever go back to Chile, northern chile inlands has some great parts specially Iquique.
10th July 2008

Fantastic blog!
Congratulations on such a wonderful, informative blog - truly inspiring ! (came across it whilst researching what to do during a 2-week holiday in Chilé).
27th July 2008

Thank you
I m Chilean, living now in the UK. I just would like to thank you for the nice comments you have made about my country,
28th July 2008

Love your blogs on Chile!
Went for the 1st time last year, going again this year and will be going again next year! Love the place and look forward to seeing the Chilean Lake District on my forthcoming trip! Happy blogging!
1st February 2009

Fantastic job !!!
Hi Steve, just wanted to thank you for all your beautiful pictures of Chile, I'm also Californian like yourself, my wife is from Casablanca Chile, inland from Valparaiso about a half hour. She's there now with her family on vacation..... I lived in chile many years ago and loved it,, the people are wonderful as is the food and the country.. Some day I will probably retire there as it is too expensive here in the USA. Once again beautiful work on your trip and I hope it went great with your gal-pal, the women there are unique and witty... Thanks again.. Wayne.
9th February 2009

Not chilly in Chili
Our son and 3 friends arrived in Santiago Feb. 6 and are now in Temuco visiting fellow Canadians who spend the Canadian winters in Chile, growing canola crops. Found your website..very informative, beautiful pictures, and releived some of our concerns about their personal safety about backpacking/hostelling their way through Chile, then Bolivia. Peru..eventually ending up in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, before they fly home on May 1. We live in Winnipeg, Canada, smack dab in the middle of the country..we had -40 degree weather here last week (doesn't matter if it's Fahrenheit or Celsius..it's the same..COLD...that's what they left behind and arrived in Chile to 86 F ...that's okay...we've got 38 F, +3C today..any advice for 4 adventurous 20 yr old Canadian boys backpacking Chile? Great site, Bruce
29th October 2009

nice photos
thanks for the nice photos. one can feel the beauty and the charm of the land from those. keep it up. wishes.
27th October 2010

Sierra Nevada
I am Chilean, and I was looking for information about Sierra Nevada, We knows a lot of beautiful places in Chile, really beautiful, I would say that We are a bit adic to this, we are camps familiy, I was finding out when I discovered your photographies very very beautiful they were very useful, I think, we will go Sierra Nevada on summer, if you have suggestions, I would appreciate. Regards, Soraya
29th September 2011

Chile is a dream country
I born in Chile in a wealthy family, and after I graduate I work for a couple years.I want to buy a good nice home or make a trip around the world. My good friend from the time I was a little girl, she send me an invitation to visit to her and her family here on United Estates. She introduced who was the guardian angel help her family to start here in U.S.A. after 4 mo. I want to continue my trip. I plan to go to Brazil, South America. Mexico, Central America and Canada, North America. The last thing in my list was to come to U.S.A. I want to go to Europe, France, Germany, Spain and England. I went around the world with my husband and children, but I believe the natural beauty of Chile, the friendship of the Chilean people, it's something don't compare to any other country. And Chile always have been the #1 country in South America, but the jealousy, the envy of others countries, starting from United Estates, Argentina, Peru, Mejico and others countries. Make many people around the world; think we are a poor country, type of 3rd. world country. United Estates, in the goverment of Nixon, and Kissenger as Exterior Ministry, out of envy bombarded Chile, on Sept.11, 1971. U.S.A. and others don't want to see Chile be recognize as the best country in the world, but do you know what? After the accident with the miners, many newspaper and in the internet, recognize Chile as #1, the country with best economy in the world, the people with the best education, the social security and benefits for the Chilean people it's the best, compare with others country like England,and Holland. "Don't judge the book for the cover," we are a long ribbon of beauty, and beautiful people from inside out." Hurray for Chile!
6th August 2012

Hey this was really nice. I have been trying to decide where I want to spend a good part of each year for the rest of my life and I have been studying Chile. It looks really beautiful there and happy people sound good to me. Any recommendations? Thanks

Tot: 0.222s; Tpl: 0.024s; cc: 28; qc: 188; dbt: 0.0451s; 1; m:saturn w:www (; sld: 1; ; mem: 1.8mb