In a quiet location on the Río Lircay’s south bank, just across the Panamericana from Talca, German-Austrian Casa Chueca is a fashionably decorated colonial-style guesthouse with all the essential comforts—firm beds, hot showers, clean toilets, a library, and even a small gym—and none of the inessential (in particular, it lacks TV). Set among sprawling lawns with a large swimming pool, it’s become a destination in itself for weekenders from Santiago and vagabonds along the Panamericana.
The accommodations themselves are impeccable, with spacious rooms (US$43/52 s/d) with an abundant breakfast. Backpackers will find equally classy dorm accommodations (US$14 pp, six bunks to a room, with private bath). Mainly vegetarian lunches and dinners cost US$3–5, and mixed drinks and wine are equally reasonable.
In addition to accommodations, Casa Chueca offers well-guided excursions into the Andean backcountry of Altos del Lircay, Radal Siete Tazas, and the upper Río Maule toward the Argentine border, all areas greatly underappreciated by Chileans and foreigners alike. The owners and staff are also generous with information to independent travelers and speak Spanish, English, German, Swedish, French, and Portuguese. Rental cars, including camper vans, and bicycles are available here.
To reach Casa Chueca from Talca’s bus terminal, take the local Taxutal A micro to the end of the line at the Toro Bayo restaurant, about a 10-minute ride, and walk another 20 minutes along the dirt road. Casa Chueca will also provide the first transfer free from Toro Bayo—contact Casa Chueca (Camino Las Rastras s/n, tel. 071/1970096, tel./fax 071/1970097, cell 099/4190625 or 099/8371440, www.trekkingchile.com , casachueca [at] hotmail [dot] com).