Tours and Activities:
Streets of SandMónica Pons Eduardo Epifanio
There is nothing better than taking the necessary time to walk about the streets and find the essence of this fishermen village with splendid villages and generous sea.
We reached the town of Raúl Marín Balmaceda on a weekday while the locals were busy on their usual tasks. We walked down its streets quietly and saw they had the same attitude: habitual movements without haste, enjoying the surroundings.
Little by little, we became aware of the location of the sea and the Palena River. To reach this place by car following a gravel road from La Junta, we took the ferry that crosses the river on a daily basis.
We discovered the shady Los Pioneros Square with its playground, the information office and the building occupied by the Neighbors’ Board. Coigües, lumas and myrtle trees rocked their branches in the square and made the summer heat more bearable.
The streets of Raúl Marín Balmaceda are made of sand. It is evident that a battle was won against the sand hills on the seashore in order to build the town. Walking towards the seafront, we spotted the Carabiniers Station, the Emergency Center and the Post Office.
At one end of the seafront, there lies the spot where the ferry connects Raúl Marín Balmaceda with Melinka and Chiloé Island. Recreational watercrafts offer fishing tours at this spot.
The seafront street, known as La Costanera borders the channel and is sheltered by a row of coigües and myrtle trees that settled the dunes. This small waterway is ideal to practice kayaking and canoeing off Lamota Island.
Seeing the mouth of the Palena River into the Pacific was amazing. We had crossed this river a thousand times during our ride around the Palena-Queulat Basin. Now, we were watching it emptying its waters gently into the Pacific.
Back in the channel, we visited the anglers’ pier with its colorful boats that leave in search for salmon and seafood. It was the fishermen’s day off so we could see all the boats moored there.
On the other end of the seafront, there lies the airfield of Raúl Marín Balmaceda and, next to it, Fundo Los Leones Lodge and cabins on the beach.
Back in town, we saw the typical shops. We also saw several accommodation venues and cabins that offer lodging and food for visitors.
The arrival of more and more visitors every year has increased the tourist offer, according to our hosts.
The salmon industry represents the main commercial activity in the district. Many of the locals work at an international company that has settled down in the area.
The Treasure of Balmaceda
It was time to get on Heriberto Klein’s 4WD and go along the sandy roads towards the sea. It was amazing to reach the huge beaches that open up to the sea featuring a broad horizon. The waves hit the shore bringing the typical aroma. The low shrubby vegetation included mainly gorses that dress these shores in yellow at one season. As we had expected, they had been planted in order to settle the dunes.
We were also amazed to see the countless wild strawberry plants on the sand. It is said that everyone goes there to collect these fruit in December, when they are ripe. Delicious küchen is made with them.
Heriberto helped us around. We spotted the Pitipalena Fjord and the spectacular myrtle tree woodland behind the beach. We reached the lighthouse and we were completely alone. The wind was our only companion.
Lonely Animal Planet
Our guide showed us Las Hermanas Islands, where a sea lion colony may be visited when the sea conditions let sailors set sail. Another island houses Humboldt penguins, also known as “patrancas”.
We were at La Barra, where astonishing beaches invite visitors for long walks, to ride horses and, of course, to fish. This is a paradisiacal place very hot in the summer.
The tour came to an end and we had the impression of having seen only a small part of what Raúl Marín Balmaceda has to offer. More time is necessary to discover the rest.