Deep in the mountains about 50 miles (80 kms) east of the southern Chilean city of Chillán, Wanderlust Chile was held this past weekend: three days filled with yoga, meditation, music and more.
Wanderlust Festival is the largest festival of its kind in the world. The yoga festival has been previously held in Oahu, Hawaii, Squaw Valley in California, the Copper Mountain Resort in Colorado, and Stratton Mountain in Vermont. For the first time in its history, Wanderlust green-lighted an event outside of North America, electing the Termas de Chillán as its location.
“I enjoyed it so much,” Veronica Irribarra, a Wanderlust attendee hailing from Punta Arenas more than 1,000 miles (1,600 kms) away, told This is Chile. “I danced, I laughed, I did yoga of course, and we ate wonderfully.”
“I’m leaving very happy, and I hope that they repeat it next year,” Irribarra added.
The festival began calmly on Friday, February 15th with city dwellers slowly making their way south from Santiago and then up into the hills. The steady climb from downtown Chillán rolled past sloping wheat and corn fields, and then into the mountains by way of a wooded ravine.
Chillán’s Routa 65 passes wayside towns, rushing rivers, and rustic cabins, and turns to a dirt road past the town of Las Trancas. After a steep upward climb, the road dead-ends at the beautiful Termas de Chillán Resort, snuggled on the lip of a green ridge with a cascading valley below and icy volcanic peaks above.
Friday saw nine different open-air yoga sessions, hypnotic sitar jam sessions, wine tastings, reiki and massages, and the ritual use of the Temazcal, an indigenous Mapuche sweat lodge. That evening, two staples of the Chilean music scene rocked the event’s outdoor stage: Nano Stern and Los Jaivas.
Inclement and out-of-season rain storms forced yogis indoors on Saturday, although the fervent rain did little to dampen the spirits of the festival-goers who had gathered.
The festivities continued inside the Termas de Chillán’s ample conference rooms and open spaces, which featured a tea lodge, a coffee shop, a relaxation lounge, nine more yoga sessions and talks by Gustavo Ponce, a prominent Chilean yogi, and Isha Judd, an Australian spiritual healer. Spanish flamenco-fusion group Chambao took the indoor stage on Saturday night, preempted by acoustic trance music and followed by a pulsing dance party.
The clouds broke just in time for the last day of the Wanderlust Festival, revealing glistening mountain tops capped by fresh powder. Figue, the award-winning Brazilian surfer-turned-yogi lead three classes, and Indian dancing, sound therapy, and sufi meditation filled up the rest of the radiant day.