Golfo de Arauco

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During the Fall Semester, CUP- Santiago students travel to the south of Chile to the Arauco Gulf (Golfo de Arauco) in the 8th Region of Chile, near the city of Concepción. The goal of this trip is for students to discover the cultural richness of the region, while also learning important events in Chilean history and experiencing the diverse ways of life of the Chilean people.

The history of this region dates back to Pre-Hispanic times. It was, and continues to be, home to the Lafquenches, a native group that forms part of the larger Mapuche population, the largest indigenous group in Chile. It was also settled by German and other European populations in the 19th Century, and the center of the carbon mining industry in the 19th and 20th Centuries.

Besides learning the history, students realize the current reality of this region, from the struggle of the Lafquenches to maintain their cultural heritage, to the changing landscape due to the forestry and paper industries.

During these four days, we visit Lota and its coal mines, share with a Mapuche community, walk through a native forest, eat dinner with a rural women’s cooperative, and enjoy the fresh air and green landscape of the South of Chile. For more information, check out the video below or the slideshow of pictures.

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During the Spring Semester, CUP-Santiago students travel to La Serena and the Elqui Valley, 470 km north of Santiago. La Serena is the second oldest city in Chile, founded in 1544 and then re-founded in 1549, after an attack by an indigenous group burned the entire city and killed all but one of the Spanish inhabitants.

La Serena is an extremely popular vacation destination during the Chilean summer. Gorgeous beaches are its main draw, but La Serena also boasts other interesting attractions, such as the Archeological Museum, Japanese Gardens, a large artisan market and over 29 historical churches in downtown.

La Serena’s neighbor, Coquimbo, is the capital of the IV Region and an important port city that ships copper and agricultural products from the interior part of the region to the world. It is home to the Third Millennium Cross, a 93 foot tall structure that is open to tourists and offers great views of Coquimbo and the surrounding area. The city also has one of the few mosques in Chile, as well as a great fish market and various beaches.

La Serena serves as the gateway to the Elqui Valley. The Elqui Valley a transversal valley formed by arms of the Andes mountain range. It is best known for three things. First of all, one of Chile’s Nobel Prize-winning poets, Gabriela Mistral, was born here in a small town called Montegrande. Secondly, the valley is home to very important astronomical observatories, including the Cerro Tololo Inter-American Observatory. With around 300 clear days per year, it is an ideal place for astronomical observations of the southern skies. Finally, the valley is known for agriculture due to its special microclimate. The valley produces grapes for Chile’s national drink, pisco, as well as Chilean papayas, avocados and other crops.

During the four day visit , IFSA-Santiago students get to discover many of these places, while having the chance to learn about the history, anthropology, economic activities and culture of the region. Check out the video below from our 2011 trip to learn more.

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In addition to longer trips to either La Serena (Spring Semester) or Golfo de Arauco (Fall Semester), there are several day trips and activities throughout the semester that explore the areas around Santiago and help students learn about the reality outside Chile’s capital city. Some day trips we’ve gone on in the past are a visit to a Vineyard to participate in the grape harvest, a trip into the Andes mountains, a visit to the small town of Pomaire which is known for clay handicrafts and a trip to Valparaíso and Viña del Mar.


Visit to a Vineyard


Trip to the Andes Mountains


Trip to Pomaire



  • (Chiflon del Diablo) Taken by IFSA Staff
  • (Chiflon del Diablo 3) Taken by IFSA Staff
  • (Chiflon del Diablo 2)
  • (Mining Town) Taken by IFSA Staff
  • (Pulperia) Taken by Abby Hall
  • (Lota Park) Taken by Anthony Navarrete, IFSA Santiago Fall 2010
  • (Araucaria Tree) Taken by Abby Hall
  • (Electricity Plant Chivilingo) Taken by IFSA Staff.


  • (Cañete Entrance) Taken by Anthony Navarrete, IFSA-Santiago Fall 2010
  • (Fuerte Tucapel) Taken by Isabel Yévenes
  • (Araucana Signs) Taken by Hewie Spangenberg, IFSA-Santiago Fall 2010
  • (Araucana Canto Primero) Taken by Hewie Spangenberg, IFSA-Santiago Fall 2010.


  • (Contulmo) Taken by Isabel Yévenes
  • (Wooden House Contulmo) Taken by Hewie Spangenberg, IFSA-Santiago Fall 2010
  • (Picking Strawberries) Taken by Humroy López, IFSA-Santiago Fall 2003
  • (Native Forest) Taken by Isabel Yévenes
  • (Chicken Spider) Taken by Isabel Yévenes

Ruka Mapuche

  • (Mapuche Ceremony 2) Taken by IFSA Staff
  • (Mapuche Museum) Taken by IFSA Staff
  • (Ruka Lelbun) Taken by IFSA Staff
  • (Mapuche Ceremony) Taken by IFSA Staff
  • (Trutruka) Taken by Tim Bates Spring 2005
  • (Trutrukita) Taken by Tim Bates Spring 2005
  • (Kultrun) Taken by Isabel Yévenes
  • (Playing Palin) Taken by IFSA Staff.
  • (Lonko) Taken by Isabel Yévenes
  • (Don Armando) Taken by IFSA Staff

Other Activities During the Excursion

  • (Lanalhue Lake) Taken by IFSA Staff
  • (Golfo de Arauco Beach) Taken by IFSA Staff
  • (Rural School) Taken by IFSA Staff

Golfo de Arauco – Random

  • (Welcome to the 8th Region) Taken by Hewie Spangenberg, IFSA-Santiago Fall 2010
  • (Golfo de Arauco Girl on Beach) Taken by IFSA Staff
  • (Golfo Arauco Mountains) Taken by IFSA Staff
  • (Lanalhue Lake 2) Taken by IFSA Staff
  • (Golfo Arauco Coast) Taken by IFSA Staff
  • (Boys on Beach) Taken by Abby Hall
  • (Pichirukas) Taken by Hewie Spangenberg, IFSA-Santiago, Fall 2010
  • (Chemamules) Taken by Isabel Yévenes
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Chile’s geography and climate make it the perfect place for wine production. Indeed, wine is one of Chile’s most important exports, and Chilean wine is becoming quite well-known worldwide.

During the Spring Semester, CUP students visit a vineyard outside of Santiago and participate in the vendimia, or grape harvest. With the help of vineyard staff and local agronomy students, IFSA students learn proper harvest techniques. After participating in the first step of the wine making process, students go on a guided tour through the facilities and cellars that explains the rest of the process.

Check out the video below from the CUP Fall 2011 trip to Viña San Esteban in Los Andes.

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During the Fall Semester, students have the chance to go to the Andes Mountains, specifically to a ski center about an hour and a half from Santiago. Students go tubing down a long and fast hill for an hour, explore the ski village of Farellones and play in the snow. They can also go skiing or snowboarding if they rent their own equipment and buy their own lift ticket.

See the video below of past trips.

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Pomaire is a small town outside of Santiago, best known for its famous clay pottery. During the trip, students are taken on a private tour of the town, and learn the entire production process. Students are also able to try their hand at the pottery wheel and making the famous chanchitos (little clay pigs). We finish the day with a delicous once with homemade empanadas.

Check out photos from a past trip on our Facebook page.

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