Saltos del Maule Viewpoints
Los Saltos del Maule Viewpoints project proposes a series of walkways and paths, 1.39 kilometers long, while prioritizing the protection of its environmental features, such as the Lo Aguirre steam. The excursion's main objective is to provide universal accessibility, promote visitor safety, and create an inclusive experience.
2020 - 2021
The Los Saltos de Maule Master Plan is composed of three parts:
01. Parking Platform
The parking platform acts as an entrance to a square, multiple parking lots, a temporary sales area, and the beginning of the loop. In the center of these areas lay the Plaza del Encuentro, a semi-roofed metal structure that enables the occurrence of various activities, such as the installation of services, temporary sales (food trucks, etc.), mobile municipal services, and use by visitors to host outdoor activities. In addition, a large pedestrian expanded serves as a panoramic viewpoint and a meeting place for people before and after tours. Also, the parking lot contains 42 parking spaces for light-duty vehicles, four parking spaces for people with disabilities, four parking spaces for tourist buses, and has large spaces for the maneuvers of large vehicles.
02. Walking Loop
The uni-directional viewpoint loop allows for security and maintains the flow of the circuit. We avoided the use of any intersections that would open the possibility for various directions of travel, therefore making the project more complex. The elemental structure of the project has an extension of 1.39 kilometers and was designed based on the universal accessibility criteria, to ensure that everyone, regardless of age or disabilities, could experience the remarkable Saltos de Maule. This circuit is complimented by educational activities and opportunities related to the extensive geological history that has shaped the territory, the hydrological phenomenon of waterfalls, and the diverse biodiversity and culture that extends along the Pehuenche Route.
In terms of design, this continuous loop has a width of 2.5 meters, with longitudinal slopes of less than 5 meters, which allows for fluid movement. Footbridges were used in areas where there was a greater steepness of terrain, in order to counteract the effects of the slopes. On the other hand, in the areas where the slope was more moderate, we used ground-level paths.
The most striking and unique elements of the proposal are the four viewpoints that extend off of the footbridges. The length of three meters allows for a greater number of people to pause and observe the different environmental elements: the Rainbow Waterfall, the Glacial Valley, the Inverted Waterfall, and the mist that emanates from the Lo Aguirre Estuary.
The project presents a unique opportunity to value, protect, and increase the accessibility of the privilege to experience the landscape. The design responds to the need of enhancing the beauty of the area while protecting its fragile ecosystem and geology. The project also prioritizes the improvement of the physical safety of the visitors. Through the deliberate placement of trails, viewpoints, and interpretive panels, the route is accompanied by educational opportunities. The implementation of this project acts as a pillar for the future development of local communities, who will be immersed within the innately beautiful landscape and will benefit from this more sustainable and sensitive form of tourism.