Colchagua Valley - Geography
The Colchagua Valley is located in the Southern Hemisphere between 34º 15’ and 34º 50’ latitude south and 72º 00’ and 70º 15’ longitude west, approximately 130 km (81 mi) south of Santiago, the nation’s the capital.
It is delimited by the province of Cachapoal to the north, the Pacific Ocean to the west, the Andes Mountains to the east, and the province of Curicó to the south.
The Colchagua Valley corresponds to the natural formation of the Tinguiririca River, which begins at the base of the Tinguiririca Volcano in the Andes Mountains, 4,300 m (14,100 ft) above sea level, and empties into Lake Rapel, which itself drains into the Pacific Ocean.
The Colchagua Valley’s geographic composition is typical of Central Chile’s east-west (from the Andes to the Pacific) transversal valleys. It is different from the others because of its two spurs of the Andes Mountains, continuous chains from the Northern Mountains and the Southern Mountains, separated by 35 km (22 mi), which naturally defines its basin, generating a corridor between the mountains and the sea, which is unique within the rest of Chile’s central zone.
Another of its particular geographic characteristics is that the Coastal Mountains that face the Colchagua Valley are very low, less than 500 m (1,640 ft), which allows cold air from the Pacific Ocean to enter the interior of the valley. The Andes Mountains are very high, with and average of 4700 m (15,400 ft) and are snow-capped during much of the year.
The distance between the Pacific Ocean and the Andes Mountains through the Colchagua Valley is just 120 km (75 mi), which creates a unique condition in Chile and generates a very special climate.