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Forming the very heartland of Mapuche culture in Chile, the urban mass of Temuco oscillates between industrial agricultural hub, literary hotspot (this was, after all the onetime home of both Gabriela Mistral and Pablo Neruda) and enthralling window into the earthy traditions of pre-Hispanic South America.
The town itself sits right on the cusp of the wild and wonderful region of Sur Chico, where snowy volcanos and lakes of shimmering ice eventually give way to the legendary swathes of Patagonia. Consequently Temuco tour guides offering excursions to the steaming calderas of Pucon and untouched Conguillio National Park abound, while the city’s hearty pubs touting stacks of gaucho steaks and frothy Chilean beers are often packed with eager hikers, waxed boots at the ready. There is also a selection of bustling marketplaces, like the Feria Pinto and the Mercado Municipal, where Mapuche trinketry and hand-sewn garments pepper the stalls. Along with this, travellers should not miss the fantastic museum dedicated to Chile’s most famous national bard, and the looming ridges of Cerro Nielol, where sweeping views of town unfold before the eyes.