Temuco On a BudgetTemuco is a large and modern city found 680 km south of Santiago. While the city is dynamic, it does not have any particular charm with the exception of being a great point of departure for many excursions around the lake region and the many national parks found in the surrounding area. Temuco is also well known for its Mapuche culture, a proud and rebellious community of around 20 000 in the area today, who has fought continuously against every invaders in the past.
SightsThe Cerro Nielol is a stunning hill covered in 90 hectares of wild forest found at the heart of the city. Visit the Monumento Natural Cerro Nielol, which opens from 8h to 19h every day and has an entrance fee of USD$2. You will find there an abundance of Copihue (Lapageria Rosea), the national flower of Chile, which grows mainly between March and July. As you wander around the manicured grounds of Plaza Anibal Pinto in the city center, walk up Calle Bulnes to Portales to enter one of Chile's best markets, the Mercado Municipal. Rows of stalls sell high-quality woven ponchos, knitwear, textiles, woodwork, hats, mate gourds, and assorted arts and crafts, but what's really special here is the abundance of silver Mapuche jewelry. Another market worth passing by is the Feria Libre, at Anibal Pinto, which offers a colorful chaos of fruit and vegetable stands. However the highlight here is the traditional Mapuche Indian vendors who come in from reducciones to sell their goods.
ActivitiesIt is a good idea to start your trip with a little knowledge about the Araucania population history. For that, head to the Museo Regional de La Araucania. The museum is found in a beautiful pioneers style building dating from 1924 and shows impressive ancient artefacts, such as one of the Mapuche's incredibly long canoe. Opened from 9h30 to 17h30 from Tuesday to Friday, from 11h to 14 on Saturday and from 11h to 14h on Sunday, the entrance fee is only USD$1. Temuco is mainly popular for being so close to the Parque Nacional Conguillio (USD$7 entry fee for adults and USD$4 for children). A beautiful park made of forests, lakes and canyons famous for its reserve of Chilean araucarias trees. A small part of the territory is a ski station but the main attraction of the park is its active 3125m volcano, the Llaima, which last erupted on New Year 2008. We recommend the superb Sierra Nevada trek (7km, 6h return trip) filled with impressive araucarias trees, which starts on the Playa Linda car park. For a short trek, the Canadon Truful-Truful 30 min trek (0.8 km) around the canyons is a great option.
Food and DiningFrom hearty casseroles, warming soups, flavorful sausages to refreshing shellfish, Chilean cooking is an unmissable experience for any visitor. In traditional Chilean kitchens, preparations are simple and hearty, relying on seasonal ingredients whose flavors speak for themselves. The food of Chile's largest indigenous group is best found in and around the city of Temuco. Mapuche cuisine includes preparations of diguenes, a mild mushroom that grows on tree branches, and pinones, the large, pine-nut-like seeds of the Araucaria, or Monkey Puzzle, Chile's national tree.
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