TREKALEYIN Pehuenche Sustainable Eco-tourism Community Network in High Biobío of the South-Eastern Chilean precordillera and cordillera. “High Biobío” is a land that surprises visitors for the beauty of its landscapes and for its unique inhabitants: the people of the Pehuen (the fruit of the Araucaria araucana), or Pehuenches (in their own language, mapudungún), ancient inhabitants of the magnificent, araucaria crowned mountains of this part of the Andes. This people have wandered across the territory through uncountable paths and trails that wind from the lower lands (used in winter time) to the highlands (used in summer). Nowadays, and thanks to the Pehuenches (with support from the “Sendero de Chile” movement, the Sepade NGO, and the Chilean program Servicio País) that have undertaken the challenge of opening this land to a new visitor: the eco-tourist. The “Red de Senderos Ecoturísticos Pehuenche Trekaleyin” (T: Trekaleyin –“let’s go!” In Mapudungun- Pehuenche eco-touristic trails network) is an indigenous organization that offers excursions to the very heart of the Pehuenches’ way of life through both horseback riding and trekking along the ancient paths and trails, and sharing storytelling, meals and experiences with the local guides. Our initiative has provided alternatives for new incomes for the Pehuenche’s families (during the season 2008 – 2009, it produced incomes around 9.500 pounds -$9.600.000 Chilean pesos), through the community eco-tourism in “Sendero the Chile”, hence promoting the conservation of the cultural and natural heritage.
Promotion Video (in spanish)
There are two types of accomodation all along our network of trails:
What the community offers can be summarized as: “Journeys to the deepest lifestyle of the Pehuenche community, horse riding or trekking along ancestral paths and trails, sharing stories, meals and experiences with the local guides”. With this in mind, it’s possible to organize “all-inclusive” excursions (horse guides, food, accomodation) of one to several days. It will only depend on your motivation! The opportunity to go on these ancestral paths is a truly and totally intercultural experience, where the simplicity of the Cordillera lifestyle gives birth to unforgettable moments.
In general, we always need new rukas (Pehuenche shelters) for accommodation, dining or other uses. We also need to improve access to places, lookout points and camping areas to provide a better service to our visitors. We do not wish to undertake large scale projects, just small but clever and ecological solutions, in harmony with the place we live in. Besides, we are a very small organization, far from big tourist circuits and communication media. So, if you can talk about our dreams and initiative, you will be a great support to us! We must say that our English is not perfect and not all of us speak it. So if you can teach us phrases or words we would be very glad!
You can contact us through our websites: www.trekaleyin.blogspot.com; www.trekaleyin.com; or by writing us an e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org
We will try to give you quick answers and orientation as needed. All the incomes generated by our initiative go directly to the community that offers the service. For example, for a 10-person excursion we need 10 horses, which we try to rent from 10 different families so that we can share the incomes among everyone. The same goes for the guides, food and other elements required. It’s also important that 10% of the income go to maintenance of the (phone, salaries, lighting, etc.) of the association, due to its role as an intermediate.
Web Site: www.trekaleyin.cl
Community Overview: Communities consist, on average, of 70 families of Mapuche-Pehuenche people (original South American inhabitants), who normally practice seasonal migration, going to the high lands during summer to graze their livestock and also to gather some seeds, especially the “piñon”, fruit of the Araucaria araucana.
How to get there: From the City of Los Angeles, take a bus to Ralco. There, look for the Trekaleyin’s office and we’ll take you to the Pehuenche communities.
Weather: As we are located in the mountains, it’s normally cold. Rain is part of the landscape most of the year too. Be prepared for snow, especially during spring and fall. The sun is strong when it appears though!
What do I have to take? Bring appropriate clothing for cold, rain or even snow. As most of our excursions take place high up in the mountains, bring a good sleeping bag. The sun is also very strong in the Cordillera so bring good sun block and hat. If you’re not used to horseback riding, bring a cream for sore skin, which will come in very handy!
Payments and Currency: There is no cash machine in Ralco or in the Communities, so make sure you take out enough money in Los Angeles or Santa Barbara. The local currency is the Chilean peso.
Services: There is electricity in the communities but not on the trails. Although it is not treated, water is drinkable as it comes directly from the mountains. Entel is the only company with cell phone coverage. There is no chance of Internet unless you bring an Entel modem. In Ralco you can find all types of services though, including health dispensary, grocery stores and restaurants.
Languages spoken: We speak Mapudungun and Spanish only. If you need translation please tell us in advance.
Territory Description: Pre-cordillera and cordillera of the Andes, Mediterranean to rainy temperate woods, mainly consisting of Araucaria araucana.