The commune of Salamanca is a rough diamond of the fourth Chilean region, one of that unknown and unfrequented destinations by travellers, that however, dazzled by what it has to offer. It's a place with incredible landscapes, impregnated by the local mysticism tradition. "The Witches' Land" surprises with an spectacular mountain range scenery and 3 beautiful valleys, starry skies at night and multiple petroglyphs dispersed around the area. The "Raja de Manquehua, emblematic place from the zone, imposes as an supernatural icon.Share this destination:
AccessThe city of Salamanca, principal urban center of the commune with the same name, it's located about 320 km from Santiago and 220 km from La Serena, and it's accessible by bus or by particular vehicle.Bus:• From Santiago: There are about 3 buses' companies that goes from Santiago ti Salamanca. You have to take this buses in San Borja Bus Station. Everyday, there are many buses that leaves from Santiago at different time and prices goes from CLP 7.600 to CLP 14.000. The trip lasts about 5 hours.• From La Serena: The same 3 buses' companies, goes from La Serena to Salamanca with a large amount of travels and with similar prices (from CLP 7.600 to CLP 14.000). You have to take the buses in La Serena Bus Station. The trip lasts about 5-6 hours.Particular Vehicle:• From Santiago: You have to leave from Ruta 5 Norte, to La Serena. You have to pass La Ligua and Pichindangui. Once you past Los Vilo, in the 229 KM, you have to turn right in the detour to Illapel. Here, yoy have to continue until the Cuesta Cavilolen. This is a journey of about 10 km. of slope, with a very beautiful view. Once you past the slope, there is bifurcation. Here, you have to turn right, to the town of Limahuida. Before you reach the town, you have to turn left, cross the Choapa River by Limahuida Bridge. At the end of the road, you have to turn right and continue straight to Salamanca.City and CommuneSalamanca is a city and commune surrounded by hills and fertile valleys. The 3 valleys near the city are: Choapa, Chalinga and Camisa. Everyone has their particular charm and visit them is one of the most attractive activities you can do. You can visit the "quintas", wineyards and rural restaurants. You can travel the valleys by bicycle or by particular vehicle by gravel roads. Many of the hills that surrounded the city are common trekking routes, made by local people, being an idela place for trekking lovers.Actually, This commune of agricultural vocation has its principal income from cooper explotation made by Los Pelambres mine. It's, by the above, that in despite this is a little-known turistic place, it has a great hostels offer, mainly thought for miners. To find the best alternatives of accommodation and places to eat, you can check our section Accommodation and Food Salamanca. Another consequence of the miner activity in the area, are the multiple abandoned miner roads en the hills, that transforms Salamanca in a paradaise for the motorcycling and mountain cycling lovers.
Raja de Manquehua, Sorcery legendSalamanca is, besides of an authentic natural sanctuary, a place marked by legends and sorcery stories. Raja de Manquehua, a rock wall in a mountain that presents a mysterious crack of large dimensions, it stands as an icon of the popular beliefs in the area. This emblematic place is in fact known as "Cueva de los Brujos" (Witches Cave). The stories tells that there they meet every year witches and warlocks in a cave to celebrate witches' covens in honor to Satanas and they also practice black magic. In the cave it would be the soul of the dead witches, whose spirit would give powers to the initiated ones. Since 1915, there are stories that reported torches processions around this place. They say that this are processions made by witches heading to their meetings. They have also been reported sightings of field of light groups that seems to dance around the Raja de Manquehua.
Plaza de ArmasRecently remodeled, this plaza is the principal public space of Salamanca and it's in the city's heart. With its 17.000 square meters of surface, it transforms this plaza in the biggest plaza of IV Region and one of the biggest plaza of the country. Its great central wwater fountain and its beautiful trees stands in the citi's heart. Near the plaza, its the bus station and also there are pubs, restaurants, the city hall and diferent commercial premises.Chicha and Chacolo producersChicha and Chacolo are two chilean liqueurs derived from the fermentation of grape juice and these are typical products from the region. Chacolo, less known than Chicha, it's similar to the last one but a little less sweet and, according to salamanquinos, a couple of glasses are enough to fall to the floor.Located at Chalinga Valley, in the sector of Cancha Brava and a few kilometers from the city, the two production cellars of artesanal chicha and chacolo works the grape fermentation in clay jars of more than 200 years old. This is how this sweet typical liqueur 100% natural its created. Ypu can visit this vineyards, talk with the person in charge and taste this delicious typical drinks, that are also very cheap compared to other liqueurs. In fact, a bottle of one litre of chica or chacolo, doesn't cost more than CLP 1.000
PetroglyphsSalamanca is a city with an enourmous variety of petroglyphs scattered around the area. This is because Salamanca was the limit between cultures from Norte Chico like Molle, Anima, Diaguitas and cultures from Aconcagua Valley and Chile Central, giving rise to a multitude of designs and shapes. It's not known exactly the meaning of this archaeological remains, but it's speculated that its fulfilled the function of signaling places of importance for the development and movilization of pre-columbian people like roads, wateries, ceremonial sites, among others.To visit the petroglyphs, its ideal to go with someone from the city that knows its locations, or ask for indication and make exploration tours for the valleys searching for this spectacular archaeological remains made by the first local residents.
Embalse CorralesLocated at Camisa Valley, in the sector of Los Corrales, 27 Kms. from Salamanca, this sector is ideal to take pictures or to contemplate the flora and fauna of this zone. This reservoir helps to irrigate 10.000 hectares and benefit more than 2.000 farmers, havong a capacity of 50 million cubic meters.Cruce Cordillera de los Andes Challenge, Barreal-SalamancaThis challenge is an activity that is performed every year between the last week of january and the first week of february, where it's performed the Cordillera de los Andes crossing between the Argentina location of Barreal and the city of Salamanca. It's a spectacular journey that considers a trip of nothing less than 180 km in 9 days crossing the mountain in maountain bike and trekking sections, reaching heights up to 4.050 mts. Salamanca municipality is the one in charge of this activity, giving out all the logistic and safety support. During the journey, you can enjoy the incredible starry skies and majestic mountain landscapes, facing up changeable weather conditions that many times combined sun, snow, rain or electric storms.
Precautions and Recomendations
1. Best season: This is a destiny where you can visit at any time of the year. This because the weather in Salamanca is arid with low level of precipitations during the year and aldo it has good temperatures. In the months of january and february, temperature varies between 25°C and 30°C during the day, and in winter months, the average temperature falls to 9°C, si it's still possible to visit this destination without problem if you go with warm clothing.2. El Señor de la Tierra Celebration: Inside Chalinga Valley, 12 kilometers from Salamanca, it's found the sector called El Señor de la Tierra, where every january 6 or the next sunday, the celebration of El Señor de la Tierra is performed. This is the principal religious celebration of the commune and with the greatest attendance, where thousands of people participate. Dancing, bells, tablecloths, candlesticks and chinese dances are presented in this beautiful and typical celebration.3. Gastronomy: In your visit to Salamanca you have to taste the traditional chacolo, typical liqueur from the zone, and the amazing mountain range cheese, a fresh goat cheese that is artisanal elaborated in the area's mountains.4. Hostels and places to eat: To find the best alternatives for eating and sleeping, check our section Good and Cheap Salamanca.5. Tours: An excellent alternative to enjot the Salamanca valleys is to do it in a 4x4 buggy. Kawsay is pioneer turism company in Salamanca that offers buggy rides for the valleys and hills, and it also offers horse rides and trekkings. For more information, check our section ChileMochilero Tours Salamanca.6. Trash: DON'T leave any class of trash in the city and around it. You neither have to interfere with the flora and fauna of the place. ¡Be a responsible backpacker and contribute to make sure nature is taken care of!