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In the City of Rivers

 Estimated reading time: 4 min. Texts Photos Marcelo Sola Texts Photos Marcelo Sola
Sightseeing in Valdivia and its outskirts

The environment and the hand of man have known how to shelter beautiful nooks that mingle nature and architecture. Discover them with us.

The largest navigable network in Chile is 140 kilometers from Pucón. The 250 kilometers that make up this fluvial network and that somehow circle the city of Valdivia delight their visitors with the particular beauty of its environment which, along with its history, turn the site into a tourist destination par excellence.

The Trip

Under this promising premise, we left towards the “city of rivers”: Valdivia. At Pucón, we took the first line of JAC buses, which carried us to our destination. The excellent roads, highways and signposting that connect both cities allow a fast journey of the buses, in fact unsuitable for people with a heart condition. In several occasions, we had to ask the driver –a Schummacher's emulator– to lower the speed, as we all aimed at enjoying the trip without any need for a hurry.
Sightseeing in Valdivia and its outskirts
Thank God, we entered the city through the Calle Calle Bridge. A little upset for the odyssey we had to endure during the trip, we went straight to the Melillanca hotel, where we had made our reservations.
As it was late in the evening, we resolved to have dinner at the hotel restaurant and let ourselves be captivated by the city the following morning. We calmed down a little and decided to enjoy the comforting rooms of the four-star hotel. A hot shower and the soft cushions of the king-size bed were enough to fall fast asleep.

Going Round the City

The following morning, the glimmering sun over the Calle Calle River predicted a beautiful day which, in addition to the activities we had planned to perform, would give shape to an unforgettable experience.
Sightseeing in Valdivia and its outskirts
From the hotel reception desk, we made contact with the tourist agency in charge of showing us around the city and its outskirts.
Sharply at the time arranged, the transfer vehicle picked us up. That is how we met Alex, the guide in charge of the excursion.
Sightseeing in Valdivia and its outskirts
We set off along Arturo Pratt Avenue, also known as the Costanera (waterfront avenue). This is the first pedestrian tour in the city. It is next to the Calle Calle riverside. As we rode on, we saw Valdivia's shipyard, and Alex began its explanation about the city.
“The name of the city is reminiscent of its founder: Don Pedro de Valdivia, who in February 9, 1522, after observing the advantages of the site, decided to try it. The navigability and beauty of the Calle Calle, Cau Cau, Cruces and Valdivia Rivers, which border the city, grant it an attractive personality and turn it into a unique and authentic Chile fluvial city” –the guide explained.

Valdivian Routine

Soon afterwards, we were standing at the point reached by the Cau Cau River, which borders the Teja Island. We continued along the Pratt Avenue, and a few meters beyond, we got off the vehicle. We visited the fluvial fair.
No sooner had we started to go about it than the sellers rushed forward to us offering their products. The intense smell of fresh fish was perceived all around. “There is salmon, hake, pejerreyes, sea bass, smoked seafood and mussels” –proclaimed the stallholders.
Sightseeing in Valdivia and its outskirts
We tasted the murta, a kind of non-growable wild fruit, while on the other side of the shore, we could make out the Valdivian Historical Museum and the Contemporaneous Art Museum.
From the fluvial market, we left towards the General Lagos Avenue, towards the most ancient neighborhood in the city. We stopped at the Torreón del Canelo, a kind of watchtower used by the Spanish in times of the colony to protect themselves from the Mapuches. It was built in the XVII century and restored by Ambrosio O´Higgins in the XVIII century. “It defended the city from the corsair or the aborigine who wanted to attack it. Today, it is a silent witness of a glorious past that demands an immortal fate for Valdivia”, reads the plate on its walls.
The houses of Valdivia present an ancient architecture of German origin, as the city received a significant migratory wave after both world wars. When going along its streets, we noticed the urban cleanness. We soon found ourselves in the mulattos’ area, where these kinds of buildings prevail.
Due to its harbor, Valdivia experimented a very important peak until 1960, when a devastating earthquake and sea earthquake hit its shores, sweeping away many of the industries of the area.
Sightseeing in Valdivia and its outskirts
We returned to the city center. We passed by the San Francisco Church and the Cathedral. A new stop at the Ramón Picarte Avenue invited us to see the Plaza de la República. A giant arbor located right in the middle of the square was used both by adults and youths as a site for resting and calm.

A Garden among the Mountains

We continued with our trip along Bernardo de O´Higgins Street and crossed the Pedro de Valdivia Bridge towards the Teja Island.
On the Island lie the Universidad Austral de Chile campus and the city Botanical Garden. In this picturesque venue, we could appreciate a varied sample of native and exotic species. Alex taught us about the species that we discovered in every step. We observed the panaceas, cedros mediterráneos, coihues, cypresses, laurels, tree ferns, poplars, acacias and plants corresponding to the Magellanic forest, as well as the habitual Valdivian forest.
Sightseeing in Valdivia and its outskirts
Finally, we decided to get away from civilization. From the Botanical Garden we took the coast road that would lead us to Niebla, where we would appreciate the magical line of the horizon when resting our senses observing the splendor of the Pacific Ocean.
We rapidly started to cross the littoral along the road connecting Valdivia and Niebla. We crossed bridges and piers until the Cruces River joins the Calle Calle River, thus forming the Valdivia River.

Forts of History

Once in Niebla, we stopped at the homonymous fort, also popular as Fort Pura y Limpia Concepción de Monfort de Lemus, where we were invited to discover the traces of three centuries of history and the fundamental part of the Valdivia defense system against the corsairs and pirates ambitions during the XVII century.
Sightseeing in Valdivia and its outskirts
We went around its inside and watched archaeological objects, flags of those days and an exact replica of a Spanish soldier.
We paid special attention to its cannons and walls. The former are original, melted in Spain during the first half of the XVII century and brought to their present location through the Strait of Magellan. For the latter, the material used was the cancagua stone, joined with lime and pebble, a building technique that enabled the fort to reach its present height.
Sightseeing in Valdivia and its outskirts
The Infinity of the Horizon

Finally, and ending our tour, Alex took us around to see the beach resorts bathed by the Pacific Ocean. Thus we passed by the Los Molinos, San Ignacio, Calfuco and Curiñanco beaches. We were delighted to watch the breaking of the brave ocean, which gave us the splendorous white foam in every wave.
After going along the local shores, we started our way back to the city of Valdivia, but we first stopped at the Kunstmann Brewery, where in addition to tasting the delicious hand crafted beverage, we learnt some of the secrets that have made it internationally famous.
Sightseeing in Valdivia and its outskirts
Useful Data
30,000 Chilean Pesos.
To enjoy this tour to the utmost, we recommend that you do it in the company of a local guide, who will notably enrich the sightseeing excursion with their knowledge.
Patagonia Adventure Center
Los Castellanos s/n (5090000) Valdivia - X Región - Chile
Tel: +56 63 228-2154  
Inter Patagonia

4 hours.
Tour Kind
Other Characteristics
Where to Eat:
Compañía Cervecera Kunstmann
Route T-350 Nº 950. Te: 56 63 222570 - 206797

Igor’s Gastronomía Marina
Esq. Costanera de Los Molinos
Useful Data Useful Data


The Viewpoint

”I have been doing tours around the city with tourists for several years, and I keep on feeling amazed in each outing. Valdivia is an extremely beautiful city. It has adapted its outline to the curves of the Calle Calle River, which gave origin to multiple corners that amaze visitors. The city sustains its economy with industrial, forest, ship-building and tourist activities.
I recommend all those who go on this tour to taste the murta and the smoked mussels when they visit the fluvial fair. These flavors are typical of this enigmatic and historical city: a must for every visitor.”
            Tourist Operators

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InterPatagonia - Touristic Information about Valdivia, Patagonia, Chile: Tours and Activities
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