West of Curicó, a scenic road follows the northern bank of the Río Mataquito through the fertile river valley. Eighty-five kilometres along the road, just beyond Hualañé village, take the right fork and follow the signs for a further 25km along a dirt road to tiny VICHUQUÉN, one of the best-preserved villages in the Central Valley. Most of the brightly painted adobe houses date from the mid-nineteenth century, but Vichuquén’s history goes back much further: there was a settlement here long before the arrival of the Spaniards, and it was chosen by the Inca as a site for one of their mitimaes – agricultural colonies populated by Quechua farmers brought down from Peru. You’ll find relics of the Inca occupation – and a three-thousand-year-old mummy – in the Museo Colonial, on Calle Rodríguez.

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