Chile seasons and activities

Seasons & Activities

Feb 2012: We loved this 2nd floor apartment…the views are great. Susan, VA, USA.

THE LIMACHE VALLEY IN CENTRAL CHILE

Central Chile, located between the Coquimbo Valley (29° 54′ 28″ S, 70° 15′ 15″ W) to the north, and Bio-Bio Province (37° 23′ 0″ S, 71° 52′ 0″ W) to the south, has been inhabited for millennia, and formed the southern tip of the Inca Empire, when the Spanish arrived, in the mid-16th Century. Framed by the Andes Mountains to the east and the Pacific Ocean to the west, this narrow strip of land has always been renowned for the rich natural resources in its earth, rock and coastal waters. No wonder most Chileans want to live there, not to mention more and more foreigners.

The indigenous population of the region, including of the Limache Valley, was made up by pastoralists known as the Picunche, who were members of the Araucanian race. Unlike their southern Mapuche kin, the Picunche were subjugated first by the Incas and then by the Spanish, and were quickly obliterated by slavery, disease and miscegenation. Archaeological traces of their activities survive in the form of pottery and burial sites, however, and also in the great network of mines dotted all over the Andes and coastal mountains of central Chile.

The most significant geological formations of the central coastal mountains are Cerro El Roble (2,200m/7,000ft), which lies about 63km/39 miles north-west of Santiago, and neighbouring Cerro La Campana (1,880m/6,168ft), which lies at the head of the Limache Valley. Together, they embrace La Campana National Park, which was established in 1967, and declared a World Biosphere Reserve in 1985. Today, the reserve is home to the world’s second largest stand of the endangered Chilean Palm, as well as to many other native plants and animals, including 47 of the 313 bird species found on mainland Chile.

The word Limache, which gives its name to both the valley and its major town, is believed to be a composite of two indigenous words: LLI (origin of something or someone) and MACHI (healer or witch). Therefore, Limache – or the Machi Valley – was always significant among healers and remains so, to this day.

43km/26mi inland from the UNESCO WORLD HERITAGE city of Valparaíso and 103km (64m) north-west of Santiago, the Limache Valley is a long-held secret among Chileans, who adore the area for its Mediterranean micro-climate and the famous quality of its fruit and vegetables, not to mention charming rural traditions.

During spring, from September onwards, the valley floor is cloaked in the bright oranges, blues and yellows of wild flowers, while the drier slopes are dotted with the spiky organ pipes of flowering cacti. Imported eucalyptus and poplar trees demarcate the original boundaries of the huge country estates that once divided this land, and wherever you see towering palms and Patagonian Araucaria trees, you know there once stood a fine country manor. Most are in ruins or have disappeared entirely, but the occasional treasure can still be found, often turned into a hotel or restaurant.

The hub of the valley is demarcated by the twin town of Limache (pop. 45,000), straddling the Limache River, and the resort village of Olmué (pop. 15,000), 8km/4mi down the road, hugging the entrance to La Campana National Park. To read more about them see http://quintaescondida.com/chile-seasons-activities/activities/limache/

Home away from home in Chile