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PUERTO PUYUHUAPI

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PUERTO PUYUHUAPI

Land of pioneers, of kind and enterprising people, Puyuhuapi is a flashy port village that impresses for its big wooden houses, its exquisite gardens, its emblematic rug factory and its omnipresent natural landscapes, as dazzling as the proper history of this picturesque community that stands in the far end of a canal.

It is a history that began to be written after the German defeat in World War I (1914-1919), when the ensuing economic crisis forced many men and women to migrate to these lands in search of new horizons and looking for a better future.
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Within this panorama, the faraway America appeared to be a paradise of riches and opportunities, an unknown and luring land of beautiful settings and impenetrable geographies.

For this reason, Robert Uebel, a German entrepreneur, impelled a migration plan to the Puyuhuapi Canal, in the Chilean Patagonia, a sector that is nowadays part of the Province of Aysen (XI Aysen Region).

We will take a break to mention that before the arrival of the colonisers, this Patagonian harbour was temporarily inhabited by the Chonos, a people of rowers that would later move to Chiloé; and the seashell deposits they left on the beaches are proof of their presence.

Returning to our history, Robert Uebel's proposal motivated other young Germans, such as Otto Uebel, Karl Ludwig, Walter Hopperdietzel and Ernest Ludwig, who inspired by the tales of Hans Steffen, a renowned explorer of the Western Patagonia, and afraid of being caught in a new war confrontation, decided to set off to Chile; there they would fulfil the American dream.

August Grosse, an experienced explorer whose work years later would be decisive in the design of the roads that currently integrate the entire region, joined the group at their arrival to Patagonian lands.

On January the 10th of 1935, the small group of immigrants would found the Town of Puyuhuapi, and the new settlers engaged on farming the land at first, so they had to hire native workers from Chiloé, who brought their families along with them, for this purpose.

Other European immigrants and relatives of the pioneers would later add themselves to the incipient population, thus sowing the seeds for the development of agriculture and the agro-industry.

The future started to take shape thanks to men like Hopperdietzel, founder of the prosperous textile's factory, Ernest Ludwig and Otto Uebel, amongst others; along with the laborious natives from Chiloé, who contributed with their effort and tenacity in the development of a town that surged in a secluded place of the Province of Aysen, at 225 kilometres from Coyhaique, the capital of the XI Region.

The picturesque wooden houses of clear European influence (more than one is nowadays a lodge) and the famous factory of handmade rugs are still standing from those early years, constituting a forced tour for travellers visiting this corner of the Chilean Patagonia, which can be accessed through the Chaitén-Coyhaique section of the so-called Austral Highway, built between 1976 and 1981.

With the construction of the road, Puyuhuapi and other towns of Central Patagonia such as La Junta, Puerto Cisnes, Chaitén and Coyhaique, were integrated to the rest of the country, hence opening to the world an awesome destination with glaciers, fiords, canals and rivers in which fishing is a true pleasure, and suggestive trails that mangle amongst forests with vigorous flora and fauna.

The abundance of life in the region is so significant that even the name of the town is related to the Patagonian fauna, since Puyuhuapi means "place of puyes" a fish species abundant in the rivers and canals. This is but a sample of the variety of species that have their realm in the nearby Queulat National Park, a masterpiece of nature with ice and snow deposits and lagoons.

Traveller's itineraries should not ignore the healing warmth of the Thermal Baths of Puyuhuapi, one of the main medicinal baths in the country; its pools and Jacuzzis filled with the hot waters of the Melimeyu Volcano are capable of alleviating rheumatism, amongst other diseases, with their 85º Celsius-temperature and its strong mineralization.

Nowadays Puyuhuapi has adequate tourist services, including welcoming lodges in traditional houses, the same that will allow you to fully enjoy this land of colonisers and natives, of Germans and Huilliches who built their future in a distant corner of Chile, in an unknown and luring land.



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