Underrated village with ‘Living Human Treasures’ named one of world’s best

The “picturesque” village of Barrancas in Chile’s O’Higgins region is home to a group of artisans dubbed “living human treasures” by the Chilean government.

They were granted the honor in 2011 for preserving an ancient way of cultivating salt in a part of Chile renowned for its “salt route”, along which tourists can delve into how the staple is made and manufactured.

Barrancas itself was named one of the best villages for tourists in 2023 by the United Nations World Tourism Organisation.

The UNWTO said of the village: “Nestled in the heart of Chile’s O’Higgins Region, Barrancas beckons adventurers to embark on an enchanting journey into its vibrant cultural heritage.

“This picturesque locale is renowned for its ancient salt flats, where sea salt is meticulously harvested using age-old techniques dating back to pre-Hispanic times.”

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It added: “The coastal salt produced here boasts a prestigious Designation of Origin certification, a testament to its exceptional quality and distinct production methods.”

While Barrancas’s salt flats are a top attraction, the region boasts Punta de Lobos, which is a magent for surfers.

A Tripadvisor reviewer said of Punta de Lobos: “This is the place to escape Santiago. Doesn’t matter if you don’t surf. And if you do, it’s heaven.”

Another commented: “This place is a unique point [on] the South American coast. The waves and surf are perfect for [s]urfers and the also the atmosphere is good for [those] seeking for a peaceful stay, practice (sic) some yoga and try some local sea food.”

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The region offers a range of accommodation, including Surf Lodge Punta de Lobos, self-catering “domes” at Pichilemu Domos, Hostel Moreno and the Sirena Insolente Hostel, to name a few.

Flights to Santiago range from £762 to £2,184 as of the date of publication, leaving from Heathrow and Gatwick, according to Skyscanner.

It is a three hour drive from Santiago to Cahuil, with no direct public transport along the route.

From Cahuil to Barrancas takes another 20 minutes by car, half an hour by bike or 80 minutes on foot.

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