This past weekend I traveled to Valdivia with work. I had been before, but this time I got to do many different things and the weather couldn’t have been better. Valdivia is one of the rainiest cities in Chile, with humidity hovering around 90% all of the time. However, we had four beautiful days of partly cloudy to completely sunny skies, no rain, and temperatures hot enough for me to wear a tee-shirt. I started to think that I could really picture myself relocating to the Región de los Ríos until I remembered that the weather we were experiencing was a complete anomaly.
We visited lots of old forts, at Niebla, Isla Mancera and Corral. Back in the day, way before the Panama canal was built, and before Chilean Independence (think: 17th and 18th centuries), Valdivia was a great spot to re-fuel on the way to or from the Strait of Magellan because of its navigable rivers. However, that also made it a target for English and Dutch pirates, so the Spanish constructed a series of 17 forts to prevent pirates from raiding the city. Today, four of them exist (well, their ruins do).
We also spent a lot of time in nature, hiking through Valdivian forests at Parque Oncol and Parque San Ramon, and boating on the many rivers surrounding the city. We saw lots of birds (swans, pelicans, hawks, vultures), heard a fox pup cry and of course saw the infamous sea lions at the fish market in Valdivia.
In the city itself we visited the Botanical Gardens at the Universidad Austral on Isla Teja, went to Parque Saval and saw the medialuna where Chilean rodeo takes place, and luckily even got to visit the horse stables. There are a bunch of museums in Valdivia, but we didn’t go because of scheduling conflicts.
From Santiago, it takes around 10 hours to get to Valdivia by bus, or a couple of hours by plane. Make sure to compare bus and plane prices, because the first time I went, I could get a plane ticket for around $20 more than a bus ticket, and for $20, it’s definitely worth shaving off 8 hours of travel time!