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Tours and Activities:

Quelhue, Mapuche Territory

Mónica Pons Eduardo Epifanio

In the mapudungun tongue, "Quelhue" stands for "red soil" and that is the color of the trails crossing the native forest within a rural hamlet where walking and discovering starry skies are mandatory activities.

Quelhue, Mapuche Territory - Pucón

Queule footbridge lies by the road to Lake Caburgua. Very close to this spot, the settlement known as Quelhue invites visitors to get in contact with Mapuche families. This place is accessed by car or bicycle along quiet but very attractive trails.

The old picturesque bridge over the Trancura River has only one lane and has been used by the locals for years. Today it is a tourist attraction as a new bridge, built in concrete and featuring two lanes, lies next to it. As we stood on the former, we could feel the waters running under us amidst the rocks a few meters away from our feet and we enjoyed their fast rhythm. From the latter, we caught a glimpse of three volcanoes: the Lanín, the Quetrupillán and the Villarrica. We shot incredible pictures of them in their entire splendor.

Quelhue, Mapuche Territory - Pucón

Then we got past the venue where the local market known as Kui Kui is open from January to March. It offers cuisine, handicrafts, traditional songs and music of the Mapuche culture within an open air space.

We went along an inner gravel road up to Río Plata, where we visited a private business in the area dwelled by the group called Manuel Huaiquivil. As part of the Mapuche tourist road, the Esparza H-Colipi family welcomes visitors at their home and offers them the chance to stay there and experience their lifestyle. The family put up two rucas boasting original characteristics and rents them as bedrooms for regular visitors. Made of native straw, local wood (hualle or roble pellín, maqui and willow), they do not have any inner divisions and look very similar to those shared by the entire family group. The temperature inside remains fresh in the summer and pleasant in the winter.

Quelhue, Mapuche Territory - Pucón

Guests may enjoy the customs of the hosts, whether during some celebration by the rehue, a tree log from the area considered as sacred, or else sitting by the fire after dinner. This is the moment when life stories and traditional dishes appear and the essence of nature is discovered in order to love and protect it.

Many people, especially foreigners, come to these rucas because they wish to learn about this ancient wisdom. They go on outings organized by the hosts or play palín with the young ones in the community. The game takes place on a field of grass or dust, with sticks made from tree branches and a ball made of wood or plastic, with rules similar to present day hockey.

Those who choose to go on this tour by bike should know in advance that there are steep slopes and different altitudes. All visitors will understand the different vision of the world these people have.

Quelhue, Mapuche Territory - Pucón


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