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Interested in Mapuche culture? Sol y Nieve has the perfect day trip

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The Mapuche culture is alive and strong in southern Chile and offers a great alternative for cultural tourism when experienced with a knowledgeable guide and a well-organized itinerary. Sol y Nieveoffers just the right balance of history and first-hand insight with their Mapuche Cultural tour.

First however, a bit of background...

The word Mapuche is made up of two words; "Mapu" meaning land, and "che" meaning people and refers collectively to different groups of peoples, from the North the Picunche, from the South the Huilliche and the Moluche and the Nguluche from the Araucanía region. Their ancestors moved to the region now known as Chile 12,000 years ago. They are the only indigenous group that withstood the attacks of the Inca and were never conquered by them.

Mapudungun words

Archaeological remains found date back to 600-500 BC but it wasn´t until Spanish contact in the early 16th century with what is now known as Latin America that great transformations to the society as the Mapuche knew it began to take place. Among the most beneficial were the adoption of Old World crops and animals, and a trade exchange between the Spanish and the indigenous population that lasted for decades. The traditional economy of the Mapuche has always been based on agriculture and they are also known for the beautiful and complex woven textiles which were an important part of trade for centuries, even before the European encounter.

The Mapuche continued to maintain their own societal culture and were never completely subjugated by the Spanish empire. By spreading eastwards into the Pampas and the Patagonian plains during the 18th & 19th century, the Mapuche groups controlled a substantial area, and therefore trade, in this geographical area.

Many altercations took place between the Spanish and the Mapuche involving spilt blood and spreading disease. Needless to say, many lives were lost over the years. After independence from Spain and the birth of the Chilean Republic, lands were bought and the area controlled by the Mapuche was significantly reduced to roughly the surface area that today is known as the region of the Araucanía. Temuco remains the regional capital and Pucón is located to the south east of the region flanked by the Andean foothills.

Currently the Mapuche population is around 1.5 million in Chile, and 200,000 in Argentina. According to the 2012 census, 37.4% of the Chilean Mapuche population lives in Santiago and the rest in the south between the 8th and the 10th regions.

Their language, Mapudungun, was first written down by missionaries using adaptations of European language orthographic systems. The writings that have survived often use different spellings and even different alphabets. Today, Mapudungun is taught in schools and is experiencing a revival. Signs in municipal buildings in the Araucanía region for example are printed bilingual in both Spanish and Mapudungun.

Ok, history lesson over and now it is time for you to reserve your excursion to find out more for yourself. The Mapuche Cultural Experience takes place in the Quelhue community just 2 kilometers from the center of town. Starting out at the Sol y Nieve office, you will be taken along the northern shore of the Trancura River where you will cross the new bridge, stopping to take photos of the old hanging bridge and the river below.


We will spend our time in the community on Doña Rosario's property that features two "Ruka's" – traditional houses of the Mapuche. You will enjoy a talk which will impart details of the culture, lifestyle, gastronomy and typical games of this ancestral race. The tour includes a typical food tasting, and you can also add on a Chilean bbq with prior reservation.

Mapuche 3

This half day excursion allows time to maximize your day by adding on one of the many other half day excursions offered by Sol y Nievesuch as rafting, hydrospeed, horse riding, canopy or the unique-to-Pucón Villarrica volcano ascent.

We look forward to hearing from you soon! For more information and reservations drop us a line here.

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Guest Monday, 21 January 2019