Kutralkura: Chile’s First Geopark

Even though in the world there are dozens of Geoparks, in Chile there’s only one area falling under this category. This is my experience in Kutralkura, Chile’s first and only Geopark.

By Karina Pires

A Geopark is an area with natural, environmental, ecologic and cultural features of geological importance. Chile’s Geopark includes seven sites: the Malalcahuello, Nalcas, Alto Biobío, Villarrica, and China Muerta National Reserves and the National Parks of Conguillío and Tolhuaca. Its objective is to contribute to the social, cultural and economical progress of the local communities. The municipalidades of Melipeuco, Vilcún, Curacautín and Lonquimay have taken active roles in Kultrakura, promoting education, preservation, and tourism. Soon, new hotels, cabins, and hostels will be inaugurated, along with new tours and excursions that will give tourists the chance to discover the beauty of these sites.

My trip started in Temuco, traveling through a beautiful road surrounded by Araucarias. After a very pleasant night at Hotel La Baita, which is run by its owner, Isabel Correa, the rest of the passengers and I departed for our destination: Curacautín.

We made our first stop at Conguillío park, which is located approximately one hour and forty minutes away from Temuco Airport. The road is paved until Melipeuco, from where a gravel road continues for another thirty minutes until reaching the entrance of Conguillío National Park. In the park you can learn about its history, nature, and volcanic formations as you enjoy the wonderful views of the landscapes of Cañadon de Truful.

We continued our way stopping to enjoy a traditional lunch prepared with local piñones, and then we continued until getting to Malleco Hot Springs to spend the night. The springs are a great place to relax and enjoy its thermal pools and its geyser.

Early in the morning we departed for our second and last destination: Temuco, stopping to visit the Malalcahuello and Nalcas National reserves, two of the most beautiful places I have seen in my life. We could see with our own eyes the landscapes we had only heard of before. From that very spot we could see the volcanoes Llaima, Lonquimay, and Tolhuaca, apart from other lesser known geological formations. The views were breathtaking.

When the tour was over I didn’t want to come back to Santiago. The vibe created with the other passengers was spectacular, one of true friendship, partly thanks to the local communities, which in one way or another have managed to transmit the love and passion they feel for their region. I fell in love with the place, and that’s what a tourist is always looking for: an unforgettable and original experience.