Rescuing Carahue in southern Chile

First it was founded by Pedro de Valdivia under the name of “La Imperial” in 1551, in front of its great river and on the top of a hill. It was also thought by the Spanish colony to be the capital of the Kingdom of Chile. Then, after many years, it was the Chilean poet Pablo Neruda who would be inspired by the beautiful piers to write in 1924, part of his work Twenty love poems and a desperate song.

Like this is Carahue, a town located in the region of La Araucanía in southern Chile, which was finally renamed by the founder Gregorio Urrutia in 1882. Its beautiful geography is highlighted by the course of the Imperial River, which is navigable and contains the waters of the attractive snowy peaks of the volcanoes Tolhauaca and Llaima.

The history that travels on the Imperial River is of great cultural importance, because at the beginning of the 20th century, it became an important fluvial port and became an attractive export center, thanks to the arrival of the Carahue Mill (Valck) and the Sudamericana de Vapores of Chile. There, wheat grains could be shipped through shipping.

But as the years passed, and with the construction of terrestrial roads, the city and its river began to lose their relevance. For this, nature was a determining factor. In 1960 the Valdivia earthquake and subsequent tsunami changed its appearance forever. Where there were agricultural crops and livestock land, after the tsunami there was only water left. The arms of the river mutated, the vegetation also and today there are only wetlands.

Almost from that moment, the carahuinos began to fight against oblivion and postponement. They knew that the river was the key to do it.

Full of ancestral customs, they only had to revive them and organize themselves.

CMPC joined this challenge, forming an alliance with the Municipality of Carahue and the Department of Social Action of the Diocese of Temuco (DAS for its Spanish acronym), with the aim of rescuing the history of the city. And after several years of work, on January 16, 2019, the “Carahue Navegable” project was inaugurated, a 30-kilometer tourist trip that regains the identity of the river through local ventures that join the river by piers.

Typical food, visits to the mapuche´s traditional houses, nights at the river bank after enjoying a delicious lamb cooked in slow fire and held by a stick, visits to the enigmatic Doña Inés Island, or simply row and row through the river flow, are part of the attraction the river has.

You can even go by boat through the main patrimonial locations of Carahue, as for example, you can navigate through the history of the Valck Mill.

To continue with the same goal, this 2019, the XVI International Canoeing Marathon, an international championship supported by CMPC in which more than 200 competitors from all over Chile and invited countries such as Argentina, Peru and Spain participated, took place in the river. Having the same purpose: to rescue the history of the Imperial River and Carahue.