Escape to Corral Bay and the Valdivian Rainforest

A twenty-minute boat ride separates the town of Niebla from a fog-filled peninsula bounded by rippling water so clear boats slice through it like a knife to a ribbon. The land creates a fantastic sight as you move through the water- the dusk fog forms a mystical haze around the boats as tree-filled mountains extend into the water around the outstretched beauty.

Photo by Rodrigo Marcelo Pineda Muñoz
Photo by Rodrigo Marcelo Pineda Muñoz

Corral is a small town on the peninsula just across the Corral bay which lies 15 km outside of popular tourist target zone Valdivia. It is a perfect entry point to access the incredible Valdivian Rainforest (Selva Valdiviana). Travelers can experience the rainforest through the Alerce Costero National Park, which translates to "Coastal Fitzroya" (Fitzroya trees grow abundantly throughout the reserve, hence the name). The park is a combination of Alerce Costero National Monument, Valdivia National Reserve, Quitaluto Estate and land donated by The Nature Conservancy. The park's geography and climate protects many species with specific habitat needs and has fueled its unique qualities.

Photo by Rodrigo Marcelo Pineda Muñoz
Photo by Rodrigo Marcelo Pineda Muñoz

Sendero Colun, a small hike along one of the beaches at Alerce Costero, is an astounding trek. As we arrived to the trail, a rare animal of southern rainforests in Chile and Argentina and the smallest deer in the world, a Pudú, ran across the path in front of the car. In the morning dense, blinding fog covers the beach and entire peninsula, yet the immensity of what lies ahead is palpable.

The miles of sand along the beach were perfectly creased by an enduring lack of human disturbance. Along the beach and through the dunes, the peak of the hike lies just beyond. The miles of uninterrupted, wild rainforestry winding through the lakes are not visible before arriving at the top the sand dunes. The last stop is a picnic on the beach of Lake Gemela Colun where the giant mouths of two outstretched rainforests open up around the water.

If you are traveling without a car or personal means of transportation, a tour is the way to go. Selva Valdiviana Tours at Hospedaje Buenavista (Hostal Buenavista) has a few different options. They include transportation, photographs, lunch and a personal guide. There are several options which go through Sendero Los Alerces Milenarios in the Reserva Costera Valdiviana (taking you through the Fitzroya forests), Sendero Entre Lagunas or Sendero Colun (which takes you through the beach, dunes, and Lake Gemela Colun), and Calbagatas Colun (Horseback Riding).

Photo by Rodrigo Marcelo Pineda Muñoz
Photo by Rodrigo Marcelo Pineda Muñoz

Rodrigo Marcelo Pineda Muñoz conducts the tours in Spanish and is eager to share the National Reserve and help out those with limited Spanish. Curious about the travelers he encounters, he excitedly explained more and more people are coming to the area every year and even compared Selva Valdiviana's magic to Torres del Paine. His heart is solidly locked into the town and promoting tourism for all types of people from all around the world.

The excitement of traveling is having your breath taken away by something you have never seen before and could not truly imagine unless you have been there. Whatever it may be: unique culture, intricate architecture, deep-rooted history, or natural landmarks. Chile holds countless, awe-inspiring national parks, famous landmarks, and natural wonders throughout an expansive length, ranging from San Pedro Atacama desert to Arctic Patagonia. Each one tops the next.

However, there is a specific satisfaction in finding something largely untouched; something left out of the tour books, left out of the common tourist agenda. The tours offered by Selva Valdiviana are easy and relaxing for a hiker of any experience level. A trip through Valdivia requires a stay in Corral and a trek through the Valdivian rainforest. You will not regret it.

More information:

Coming from Valdivia it is about a 20 minute bus ride over to the town of Niebla where ferries go back and forth between the Corral and Niebla port. Hostal Buenavista lies just above, overlooking the Corral port. The main road running from Corral to the National Park is the T-80, a viable option for off-road vehicles or mountain bikes.

Selva Valdiviana tours offered by Hospedaje Buenavista leave early in the morning and return around 4:30 in the afternoon. For more information and specifics refer to Selva Valdiviana Tours Facebook page or the Buenavista Hostal webpage, or contact +56951977579 for more details.

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