header a14© Matias Pinto for The Nature Conservancy

TNC ISO 20 menup1Los Alerces Trail TNC ISO 20 menupAmerican sea lion colony TNC ISO 20 menupChaihuín river TNC ISO 20 menupColmillos de Chaihuín TNC ISO 20 menupColún dunes & las Vulvas cave TNC ISO 20 menupColún lookout TNC ISO 20 menupColún river TNC ISO 20 menupHueicolla


Visiting the Valdivian Coastal Reserve gives you the opportunity to explore one of the world's 34 biodiversity hot-spots, according to Conservation International, and to discover why the Reserve is included among the World Wildlife Fund's 238 priority ecoregions.

From the Pudú (Pudu puda), among Latin America's smallest deer, to the black or Magellanic woodpecker (Campephilus magellanicus), the world's largest woodpecker, the Valdivian Coastal Reserve offers a rich variety in fauna and a marvelous flora, including extensive forests of coastal Larch trees (Alerce costero - Fitzroya cupressoides), which, with a life span of up to 3.600 years, is the the the the second most long-lived species on the planet.

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header a13© Nick Hall for The Nature Conservancy

Los Alerces Trail: birds and trees, firns and bees

A traditional walk on the Valdivian Coastal Reserve, this enchanting trail with striking scenery is located in the “Máquina Quemada” sector, and approximately 3 km long.
The trail leads you through an abundant native vegetation of Coihue (Nothofagus dombeyi), Chilean myrtle (Arrayán - Luma apiculata), Luma (Amomyrtus luma) and Long-leaved mañío (Podocarpus salignus), among other specimens of the valdivian forest.

You will also encounter impressive, millenary Larch trees (Alerce - Fitzroya cupressoides) among which a specimen of approximately two thousand years old.
Walking this trail offers you the opportunity to appreciate the splendor of the temperate rainforest, with waterfalls and streams running through a landscape with an abundance of native species of the Chilean south and a forest floor covered with vines and ferns, among which more than 15 different species of the Hymenophyllum genus.

During the walk it is possible to spot and photograph the black (Magellanic) woodpecker as well as the Pitius woodpecker, Chucaos and Rayaditos, among others. These species can be seen clearly as they sing their beautiful melodies that accompany the visitor along the path, creating a magic and harmonious atmosphere.
Not counting insects, there are well over 140 animal species to be found on the Reserve, between birds, mammals, amphibians and reptiles.

This trail can be easily walked by children from 7 to adults of 77 years old. There are wooden rails that make the walk easier and safer. It is recommendable to hire a local guide to take you on this trail, contacting the Reserve’s Administration.

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header a09© Matias Pinto for The Nature Conservancy

Come make some friends at the american sea lion colony at Huiro

Three kilometers from the Reserve’s administration offices and about 40 km south of Corral, you will find the locality of Huiro, surrounded by evergreen forests and home to 27 families, most of them of Mapuche-Huilliche descent.

There is a small trail that leads to a rocky coast covered with coastal olivillo and other species of the valdivian temperate rainforest.
At the picnic zone there are various visitor activities on offer, such as guided horse rides, as well as typical local foods, like catutos (wheat crackers), milcao (potato bread) and juices made from murta or maqui berries.
You can also admire the majestic Pacific Ocean from this area.

The Huiro sea lion colony can be seen all year round; hundreds of south american sea lions lions (Otaria flavescens) live on and around the rocks that are just a couple of meters away from the beach. 
If you would like to see them up close, you can take a boat from Chaihuín or Huiro with one of our local fisherman-guides.

Similarly, between febuary and april this location turns into an excelent lookout point for whale watching.
With a bit of luck, we can observe the Blue whale (Balaenoptera musculus), the Southern right whale (Eubalaena australis), the Humpback whale (Megaptera novaeangliae)) and the poorly-named Killer whale or Orca (Orcinus orca), most of which transit fairly close to the shore.
Here we also find a variety of local shorebirds, amongst which large numbers of the Austral blackbird (Curaeus curaeus) and the Southern lapwing (Vanellus chilensis) which live in the grasslands of this sector.

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header a17© Ian Shive for The Nature Conservancy

The Chaihuín river, dunes and beach. Fun, sports and relaxation for the entire family

The Chaihuín river originates in La Unión, located at the highest part of the Valdivian Coastal Reserve and Alerce Costero National Park.
The river basin has an extension of 313 km² and its main course is the northern limit of the Reserve, running along the entirety of its 87,7 kilometers.
One of the most important characteristics of the river is its great scenic beauty.
On crossing the river's bridge south of the caleta Chaihuín (top image background), you will find the Valdivian Coastal Reserve's administrative offices.

On one of the nearby banks, visitors can enjoy the enchanting beauty of this river that, since time immemorial, has been the fountain of life for the forests, animals, plants and the human inhabitants of this territory.
There are various activities available in this area, among which kayaking, trekking, horse riding and expeditions on foot, accompanied by the local guides that live in the Reserve’s neighboring communities.

On the opposite bank of the river are a beach and the Chaihuín dunes, where you can observe a variety of native birds such as Kingfishers, Sandpipers and Curlews and, with a little luck, you may even spot Chilean dolphins (Cephalorhynchus eutropia).
During the summer, visitors may enjoy swimming in the river; there is an authorized bathing area supervised by the Reserve and the local municipality.
This sector is particularly attractive because of its dunes, its scenic beauty, the varied gastronomy and the warmth of its people.

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header a04© Nick Hall for The Nature Conservancy

Visiting the Colmillos (fangs) of Chaihuín is well worth the effort

The Colmillos de Chaihuín are relatively close to the Valdivian Coastal Reserve's administration office. A well marked trail will lead you through an evergreen forest with beautiful scenery of native vegetation, small waterfalls and a variety of birds, such as the Green-backed fire-crown colibri (Sephanoides sephaniodes), Chucaos and Rayaditos, among many others. 

The fangs are annex to the Chaihuín beach, which is approximately 800 meters long. Walking along the beach you will reach a scenic viewpoint that offers a panoramic view of these rocky formations emerging from the ocean like the teeth of a gargantuan. 
It is likely you will see Chungungos or Sea otters, as well as a wide variety of marine birds such as the Great grebe, Neotropical- and Red-legged cormorants and, of course, Peruvian pelicans. Sometimes it is also possible to spot Chilean dolphins, called tonina by the locals.

The Colmillos de Chaihuín trail has 2 sections –one kilometer long, approximately– and includes various sensory exploration points and informative signs in braille, financed by the Global Fund for the Environment (GEF-SIRAP) and the Ministry of the Environment.

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header a01© Ian Shive for The Nature Conservancy

Enjoy a splendid view on the Twin Lakes and much more on your hike to the Colún scenic viewpoint

You can access this scenic viewpoint from Colún, following a narrow trail surrounded by marvelous Coastal Olivillo (Aextoxicon punctatum), gigantic, old Ulmos (Eucryphia cordifolia), beautiful Copihues (Chilean bell flower - Lapageria rosea), a wide variety of ferns and a diversity of other species of the evergreen forest.
When you reach the viewpoint, the first thing you see is a enormous Meli tree (Amomyrtus meli) that dominates the scene with its impressive splendor, height and particular aroma.

From here, you can see one of the twin lakes that dominate the area. These are impressive bodies of calm and mysterious waters just under 1 km long and approximately 300 meters wide, surrounded by native forests, mostly Coastal Olivillo.
This is, doubtlessly, splendid scenery that is all the more charming because of the great variety of canticles of different birds, that are also of great scientific interest.

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header a18© Nick Hall for The Nature Conservancy

Meet the Colún river on your trip to the homonym dunes and beach

This beautiful and impressive river is found in the coastal sector of La Unión.
It is born in the folds of the Colún Hill and is fed by the Yugo Largo, Mañío and El Puente streams, to finally disembogue in the Pacific Ocean at Punta Colún, on the homonym beach.

The river is surrounded by evergreen forests and harbors a varied fauna, including the Huillín or Southern river otter (Lontra provocax), a type of freshwater otter that lives solely in Chile and Argentina and is listed as endangered by the Ministry of Environment. It has been extensively hunted for its delicate fur, while many of its river habitats have been destroyed, severely altered or contaminated.

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header a10© Ian Shive for The Nature Conservancy

Take long walks along the Colún beach and top it off with a cultural visit to the Cueva de las Vulvas

This sector of Colún is surrounded by a native forest of Coastal Olivillo (Aextoxicon punctatum) and is of great scenic beauty. The beach –not suitable for bathing– is 9.5 km long and looks upon the Pacific Ocean, powerful and absolute, with its loud and captivating roar. 

cueva de las vulvas

A huge dune complex, populated by ancient, endemic Coastal Olivillo forests, able to withstand the force of the powerful coastal winds, can be seen all along Colún beach.
There are also many different species of marine birds that you can observe and photograph along the coast line; different types of gulls and cormorants, oyster catchers and whimbrels, among others.

At one side of the dunes there is an impressive archeological cave, the so-called “Cueva de las Vulvas”, which is an important historic and cultural vestige of the ancient indigenous peoples that once inhabited the area.
Inside the cave we can find petroglyphs that have immortalized the passing of time and have been subject of many archeological studies.
Foto: © Ian Shive for The Nature Conservancy

You can easily observe the remains of ceramics and pottery once used by the ancient inhabitants of the Valdivian basin, which are believed to be the remains of vessels used for food storage and other objects.
It is vital to understand that this is a unique location for conservation and study and to keep in mind that removing whatever artefact is against the law and subject to stiff fines.

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header a19© Matias Pinto for The Nature Conservancy

Enjoy star gazing or counting the many different fern species at the enchanted Hueicolla grove

Hueicolla is an enchanting place, guarded by majestic ferns, ancient Alerce trees and huge expanses of virgin forest. The rivers, the Pacific Ocean and the surrounding areas contribute to the extraordinary beauty of this location.
At night, you can get an impressive view on the sky and the Milky Way, making this an ideal observation point for any astronomy buff.