The spectacular 60-meter high Chancagua Waterfall is the icon along the route known as Destino Salto Chancagua Taiñ Folil. The cascade is fed by a number of estuaries and is one of the loveliest waterfalls in the Araucanía.
In this single destination there are a range of small businesses promoting ethnotourism sharing the Mapuche culture. One can find the women of Piutril Ceramics making Mapuche metawes or jars, spend the night in the new campsites, or purchase all sorts of berries and vegetables grown by the families in the neighboring communities along Route-23 Huapitrío in the Collipulli district.
Quite a number of families along this route have tourism-related businesses such as Dania Morales owner of “Ruka Domu Gürekave” (home of the knitting lady) where she displays woven textiles made from sheep’s wool dyed with the leaves and herbs provided by nature.
“My great grandmother, grandmother, all mother knit, and now I do, too. This is important to me because my ancestors practiced this, and it’s something I want to preserve. Also, I enjoy doing it. The idea is to teach this and share it with others. Although all of my kids are boys, they all know how to knit. I have to make sure the tradition isn’t lost,” said Dania.
In order to help support this tourism option, CMPC and the Municipality of Collipulli worked together on infrastructure improvement projects including a wooden lookout point to observe the flora and fauna around the Chancagua Falls. A few of the other projects include three kiosks for selling products, restrooms for the local camping zones, informational boards, recycling containers and signage.
All these facilities were officially launched this week with a Mapuche site cleansing prayer ceremony called Llellipun to inaugurate these projects that are now open to the public.
Lugardi Venegas, the President of the Taiñ Folil Tourism Group, highlighted the support of public and private institutions like the CMPC Company. “This support from CMPC is very important to us. It’s a dream come true for our group and the needs of our people. This is a complete tourism circuit that offers local cuisine, ceramics, camping zones, and we’ll be adding cabins in the future. These activities are very important for our Mapuche family because we can get ahead in life, improve our quality of life, and educate our children.”
The Advisor to the Local Economic Development Department for the Municipality of Collipulli, Alejandro Fariña, said that, “As a local government, we are quite happy that CMPC has focused on this route toward Chancagua, which is one tourism option available in the Collipulli area. This investment made by the private company will help the Taiñ Folil group members have spaces to sell their products during any season of the year.”
The business of waterfalls
For many years only the area residents and relatives of the Campos Isla family got to enjoy this natural wonder, but in 1990 the idea arose to share it with others. That is when the “Salto de Chancagua” camping area was born with two families working on it, as told by Margarita Contreras.
“It is free to use the waterfall lookout point, but use of the camping infrastructure has a fee. We have 45 large tables and 20 campsites set up. Right now because of the pandemic we have to meet the quota limit, which depends on the phase we are in at the time,” said Margarita.
The Assistant Manager for Public Affairs at CMPC Ignacio Lira said that, “Tourism and the development of the local productive capacity when done well helps increase family income. As a company that happens to be another neighbor in the area, we’ve realized that we can help improve people’s quality of life by helping set up and develop quality projects, just like we’ve done in other sectors of the Araucanía and Biobío.”
“Through this CMPC project, we’ve improved some areas such as the lookout point that was built to view the waterfall with information panels that talk about the waterfall’s characteristics and the natural surroundings. Furthermore, the improvement project included recycling containers that help boost sustainable tourism without trash lying around to protect the environment,” added Margarita.
All facilities along the route have the needed health measures in place that were provided by the Arriba Todos Juntos program of CMPC to welcome tourists with the best safety standards and prevent the coronavirus from spreading.
“Those of us in the countryside didn’t have these hygienic items and this is the time when we most need help. Having this assistance is very important to us,” said Dania Morales.
For more information and/or phone numbers of the businesses along the Destino Salto Chancagua Taiñ Folil Route, write to the Tourism Office of the Municipality of Collipulli: email@example.com / Facebook: Turismo Collipulli
Or call: 45 2 88 63 22 (Monday through Friday, 9:00 AM to 2:00 PM)