Lake Lanalhue with its peculiar warm water reactivates tourism in southern Chile

Lake Lanalhue with its peculiar warm water reactivates tourism in southern Chile

Lake Lanalhue, located in the southern region of the Biobío of Chile, has become with its peculiar warm water one of the attractions of the area, which wants to boost tourism, after months of tension between the original people of the Mapuche and the security forces.

"Place of souls in pain", means Lanalhue in mapudungun, the Mapuche language, very present in the place names of the area, which is located about 700 kilometers south of Santiago and which still today hosts one of the largest communities of this ethnic group of the South American country.

The lake, sadly named, reflects in its waters the trees that surround it, sometimes as a mirror and others more inaccurately and diffused when the wind tides its surface.

It is surrounded by the Nahuelbuta mountain range -which means big tiger- and has warm water, explained Nicolás López, a tour guide for this area, although paradoxically, due to the humid and cold weather, it should have a much lower temperature.

"These warm water streams would come from one of the types of algae that inhabit their depths," López added.

Lake Lanalhue is in full nature in the province of Arauco, but in the last austral summer it lost a large number of visitors, as confirmed by the regional director of the National Tourism Service (Sernatur), Natalia Parra.

"The main reason was the decline of Argentine tourists," said Parra, who said the fall is a result of the economic situation of the neighboring country.

To this situation indicated by Parra, it can also be attributed, according to consultations made, that there was a decrease in Chilean visitors and that for this specific reason the application of the "Araucanía Plan" is urgent.

This project, created by the president of Chile, Sebastián Piñera, wants to reactivate the economy of the region and develop it in an integral way, from education to the promotion of tourism.

The southern regions of Biobío and Araucanía are borderlands and share history and political battles, including the claims of the Mapuche for the recovery of their lands, many of which are currently in the hands of forestry companies.

During the last months, the alleged murder by the carabineros of the Mapuche community member Camilo Catrillanca has revived this conflict in the area, which also struggles to be known for its cultural wealth, beyond these disturbances.

In the province of Arauco and the area surrounding Lake Lanalhue, three cultures coexisted: the German culture arrived by the settlers, the Creole and the Mapuche people themselves.

This unique union has generated a great tourist interest on the part of foreign travelers and the same nationals who visit the green zone, with their names of mountains and rivers in Mapudungun, while tasting a piece of "Küchen", the typical German blueberry cake or raspberries present in all the cafes of the towns.

From the Biobío region and the Chilean Government itself, we want to promote domestic tourism through various programs that demonstrate the security and attractions of the region.

Among them, the Sernatur project aimed at the elderly stands out.

In September this new destination will be opened with the intention of bringing about a thousand elderly people to know Lake Lanalhue next season.

For this initiative, part of the Mapuche community, which is open to receiving tourists, was involved, as is the case of Hernán Jara, owner of a ruka (typical Mapuche house) in the Elicura Valley, which means transparent stone in Mapudungun.

"Tourism has always been there but now it has to be lifted, it is important that the State intervenes because it is something that suits us all," said Jara.

Hernán Jara, a Mapuche mother and Chilean father, was critical of the forestry companies "that are drying up the territory."

"We have to tell the truth about what big foresters do, but we also have to take care of our land and take responsibility for the place."

Patricia López Rosell


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