Festival Nómade: celebrating ethnic music and Huilliche culture

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The Chilean coastal ecosystem known as Cordillera de la Costa, situated just west of the city of Osorno in the Los Lagos region of southern Chile, hides a paradise of white sand beaches and turquoise waters together with dense, tangled Valdivian temperate rainforest that extends to the Pacific coast. It is a place rich in biodiversity, where it is still possible to find ancient alerces.  As well, one can find a still thriving Huilliche indigenous culture here that has largely remained faithful to its ancestral traditions. To protect the native forest and indigenous communities, in 2000 a network of indigenous parks was created called Mapu Lahual, which in the native Mapudungun language means “land of alerces.” 
 
It is in this amazing setting that every February an annual festival is held that is aimed at people who enjoy electronic ethnic music, nature and the outdoors. Just three-years-old, this year the growing event has been renamed Festival Nómade as its organizers intend to replicate the festival in the future in the desert, forest or mountains of other extraordinary places similar to Mapu Lahual.
 
José Alarcon, the director of the festival, stresses that the initiative "goes beyond music and dancing barefoot on the beach.” He says the event came about as a way to generate resources for the communities inside Mapu Lahual, diversifying their sources of income through ecotourism so that the people living there do not have to abandon their culture and traditions to go to work in the cities.
 
To minimize its environmental impact on the area, the festival has limited its attendance to just 200 people, whom have two options for arriving to the festival site: the first, a 4-hour boat ride from Bahía Mansa, and the second option is a rugged but beautiful 6-mile trek starting in Riachuelo via ancient trails that cross through the lush forest.
 
Regardless of how you get there, in addition to fine music, all of the participants have the right to camp, have lunch in the homes of the local communities, and participate in the diverse other activities lined up, such as yoga, slackline, stand up paddle, surfing, kayaking and scuba diving. There will also be artistic performances, lectures and workshops on permaculture and reforestation.
 
Festival Nómade will be held this February 6-8. Ticket prices start at $140.000 pesos chileno. For more info, visit www.festivalnomade.cl