Niebla, Chile y La Reserva Costera Valdiviana
A great camping trip get-away within hours of the Valdivia city limits is at La Reserva Costenera. On the way there, it’s worth it to stop at the small pueblo of Niebla (means fog, because of course, it’s foggy there). On Sundays, tourists can enjoy authentic Chilean food and entertainment at the Encuentro Costumbrista on Playa Grande. It was a fun and delicious time and the town is super tranquilo. Niebla is only a 30-minute colectivo ride from Valdivia. Some say the population is growing and that one day it might become a suburb. Until then, it is a quiet town that only buzzes on the weekends when tourists or the city folk come out for the day.
From Niebla, getting to La Reserva is just a short bus and ferry ride away to the town of Corral. From there, it’s another relatively short bus ride (~1.5 hr) to the entrance of the reserve in Chihuin. Our final destination was a Lobería (a giant coastal space, rocky or sandy, where sea lions have created their community) called Kamañ Mapu in the extremely tiny rural town of Huiro. You can hike there or, if you’re lucky, hitchhike. We opted to try the later and ended up getting a ride from the local school bus. We had kindergarteners sing us Chilean nursery rhymes all the way to the Lobería. On the way back to Corral, we caught a ride with the garbage truck men!
The owner of the property that backs up to the Lobería charges a nominal fee to visit the vistas of the sea lions and an additional but also small fee to camp. Aside from his farming and animal raising, the owner and his wife make artisanal crafts to sell. He has also taken obvious pride in preparing his land for tourists and campers. He has running sink water and toilets in very well maintained small outhouses. In fact, it is one of the cleaner campsites of the trip. In addition, his land boasts phenomenal views of the Pacific Ocean and, as noted, a large group of South American sea lions. We spent three days there enjoying the ocean, hiking along the rocky coastline, picking sweet Murta berries with the family, and listening to the continuous barking of the sea lions. It was so peaceful there, even amid the sea lion’s growls, we didn’t really want to leave.