In the Río Allipén valley, precariously sited on an ancient mudflow 92 kilometers east of Temuco via Cunco and 45 kilometers west of Icalma, the Mapuche town of Melipeuco is Parque Nacional Conguillío’s southern access point and an alternative route into the upper Biobío loop around Lonquimay. In the 1970s, this was a conflictive area in the agrarian reform movement, and the issue is still alive today.
Melipeuco (population 2,333) operates a summer-only tourist office on Pedro Aguirre Cerda, across from the YPF gas station. There’s a crafts market here as well.
Melipeuco’s cheapest accommodations are at cozy Hospedaje Icalma (Pedro Aguirre Cerda 729, tel. 045/581108, US$7–10 pp), which also arranges Conguillío excursions. Hostería Huetelén (Pedro Aguirre Cerda 1, tel. 045/581005, US$37 s or d with private bath and breakfast) is a more formal option, but its restaurant is mediocre; for food, try Ruminot (Pedro Aguirre Cerda 496, tel. 045/581087).
Nar-Bus has around seven buses daily to and from Temuco’s Terminal de Buses Rurales (US$2, 1.5 hours). There is no scheduled public transport to Conguillío, but taxis or pickup trucks will take passengers to the visitor center for about US$12–15.
© Wayne Bernhardson from Moon Chile, 2nd edition