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Chile Chico

On the south shore of Lago General Carrera, not too far from the Argentine border, is Chile Chico – Little Chile. This village owes its name to the patriotism its inhabitants declared after Los Sucesos del Lago Buenos Aires, otherwise known as La Guerra de Chile-Chico.

 

In 1889 the first pioneers came. With the establishment of the Oficina de Tierras y ColonizaciĂłn in 1905, the population increased. Come 1918, though, the settlers faced serious problems. Their lands had been given to a mining company, which demanded the settlers to be removed. The people refused to comply and faced off against carabineros sent to dislodge them. An armed rebellion ensued, with 50-100 deaths. The settlers had won. After that, more families began arriving and farming in this warm valley. A true city was laid out and on May 21, 1929, Chile Chico was officially founded.

 

Climbing to the top of Mirador Cerro Bandera (0.5 km/0.3 mi west), the lay of the town and earth is evident. Being on the dry side of the verdigris-streaked mountains, the landscape is more withered looking. The lake, dotted with islands, stretches to the north and east, and on the far northwest horizon is Cerro Castillo. Once upon a time, the banners of colonists flew. Now only the Chilean flag flutters in the strong wind.

 

A few blocks from the Plaza de Armas is Iglesia Nuestra Señora del Carmen (Portales and Blest Gana). Hidden behind pine trees, this church is a non-descript, modern concrete structure with metal flying buttresses. Down the Avenida O’Higgins is the Museo de Chile Chico, displaying fossils, stones, various objects of Aónikenk (Tehuelche) indigenous and settlers and stuffed fauna (Oficina de Turismo, O’Higgins 333). A few blocks east is the Casa de la Cultura, which exhibits art and movies (Lautaro and O’Higgins). Next to it is anchored Barco Andes, which plied the blue-green lake from village to village, from 1922 to the 1990s. Inside are photos.

 

One of the nearby attractions is Puerto Manolo, a perfect for swimming or fishing (1 km/0.6 mi west). Further on is Bahía Jara, another beach great for nautical sports (18 km/11 mi). From here you can see Península Levicán on the other side of the lake. To the east of town is La Puntilla, a good place for birdwatching (3 km/1.8 mi). A bit further past, hidden among the farms is the Cementerio de Colonos, the village’s original graveyard. Reserva Nacional Lago Jeínemeni, 52 kilometers (32.5 mi) to the southeast, is home of Cueva de las Manos, Lago Jeínemeni and Laguna Verde.

 

Chile Chico celebrates its anniversary the last week of February. The third week of September it hosts the Festival Folklore y Domaduras. Neighboring villages also have summer festivities. BahĂ­a Jara has its jineteadas (equestrian displays) with asados (grills), music and rodeos the fourth week of January. MallĂ­n Grande commemorates its founding the first week of February.

 

 

Services

Chile Chico has most services: Tourism office (summer: daily 8:30 a.m. -10 p.m., winter: Monday - Friday 9 a.m. -5 p.m. O’Higgins 333, Tel: 067-41-1359, E-mail: chilechico@iname.com, URL: www.chilechico.cl), Conaf (Blest Gana 121), carabineros (O’Higgins 506, Tel.: 067- 41-1313). Banco del Estado’s ATM accepts only MasterCard and Cirrus; it exchanges US.. dollars and euros (100-block of González). Some businesses along O’Higgins exchange Argentine pesos. The town also has a post office, internet cafés ($1.60-2 per hour) and phone centers along the main street. Along the avenue are the hospital (No. 331, Tel.: 35-1388) and several pharmacies.

 

 

Arts and crafts

Artesanías Schuster (Portales 230) – woodworking.

 

Taller Artesanal Nazareth: wool ponchos, sweaters, hats. Ca. O’Higgins and Balmaceda.

 

Ferretería Sur has fishing gear. Ca.O’Higgins 270.

 

 

Tours

Patagonia Challenge: rappelling, hiking, excursions to Cueva de las Manos and BahĂ­a Jara. Tel.: 067-41-1533 /& 09-9129-8967.

 

Agua Hielo Expediciones: kayak lessons ($20 per 2-3 hour class). Ca. Portales 574, interior, Tel: 09-7605-3580, E-mail: aguahieloexpediciones@gmail.com.

 

Fernando Georgia Díaz: fly fishing, horseback riding, rock climbing, kayaking, rafting, skiing, excursions to Cueva de las Manos. Ca. O’Higgins 416, Tel: 41-1224 / 08-595-7934, E-mail: fgiorgia@expeditionspatagonia.com / georgiachilechico@hotmail.com, URL: www.expeditionspatagonia.com.

 

 

Hotels

Camping BahĂ­a Jara: $2 per site plus $0.60 per person. BahĂ­a Jara, 18 km/11 mi west of Chile Chico.

 

Kon-Aiken: $12 per person with breakfast, camping $4 per person. Ca. Burgos 6.

 

HosterĂ­a de la Patagonia: $20 per person, camping $5. Camino Internacional s/n, east end of town, Tel: 41-1337, E-mail: hdelapatagonia@gmail.com, URL: www.hosteriadelapatagonia.cl.

 

 

Restaurants

Antu Mapu: Ca. O’Higgins 266.

 

Café-Restaurant El Fogón: Ca. O’Higgins and Burgos.

 

Lola y Elizabeth: Ca. González 25.

 

 

(Altitude: 215 m / 705 ft, Population: 3757, Phone Code: 067)

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Other places nearby Chile Chico : Villa Cerro Castillo, Puerto Cisnes, Puerto Guadal, Villa O'Higgins, Chaitén, Palena, Puerto Chacabuco , Puerto Ibáñez, Reserva Nacional Futaleufú and Coyhaique.







By Lorraine Caputo

Upon re-declaring her independence at age 29, Lorraine Caputo packed her trusty Rocinante (so her knapsack's called) and began...

08 Jul 2009

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