Pucon, Chile

Pucon Travel Blog

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Volcano Villarica, its big. Standing out of the landscape like the proverbial honeymooners ....

The bus trip from San Martin (Argentina) to Pucon (Chile) was supposed to take 3-4hrs. I think we managed to fall on a day where all the really slow border officials were on at the same time. We arrived at Pucon after 6hrs. The funniset thing about this border crossing was that it was a rough road most of the way. The road at the actual border was a dirt track that looked like it could be quite the river if it had some water on it. Then out of nowhere at this very deserted border crossing, Chile decided to x-ray everyone's bags. So the bus drivers were working frantically (as they always seem to be) trying to get everyones bags off the bus and through the machine and then on our way. Anyway.

Near the top, ice picks crossed.
. onto Pucon.

I was very excited about Pucon, especially the volcano. We'd heard some great things about the hike from fellow travellers. Another point, the best place to get accomodation in chile has been picking it up at the bus stop everytime. This time we scored a double bed in a little self contained house for only 4000 pesos each (approx $10). It even had a kitchen which was a mega bonus since pucon is supposed to be mega expensive for eating out.

The volcano is one of the most expensive trips we were going to do so some running around travel agency's for a good deal was in order. And you can bet that if we'd had a spreadsheet there to work out the best deal we would have got a real bargain but we had a fairly good stab.

Pretty impressive view from the top. This is looking down at the Pucon township and Lago Villarica
 We got a combo with the hot springs so we could soothe the aching muscles after the walk. plus we got added discounts because we booked some rafting with the same mob.

We should have shares with these companies, because we sent a couple we met that night at our accom, along  to our agency to book the volcano trip and the springs and another couple to go rafting. (similar to our work with the travbuddy website we've introduced at lease two people - and that's the ones we know about!)

The volcano trip is a 4hr trek up and then "quicker" on the way down. The rumour is that you may get to slide down on your behind.. it all sounded a bit much for me but I went along with it. obviously AC was pretty excited.

Time for some white water rafting. Decked out in all the gear.
 Anyway it all begins at 7am in pucon.

On tuesday we woke up at 6am and sorted everything out, and went along to our agency with sandwiches sucnscreen and all the other items they had told us to bring. They were pretty late opening up shop to meet us (we were four now, because the other UK couple we had spoken too had booked in too). Well much to our dissapointment the lady said that SHE thought it was about to rain and apparently no walking up the volcano when its raining. We were pretty sad, particularly as this place (as with all of SA that we have seen) is dead til about 930am. They are NOT morning people here. Anyway, it turned out all the agencies postponed that day to the next day. AC was mostly sad because our guide was a stocky little chilean guy who he thought would have been a really cool dude.

The Trancurra River. You're water had better be pretty white.

No sign of the volcano for the entire day though and it rained most of the time (i admit the travel agent lady was right). However, we rounded up our newly engaged friends Dave and Hannah from the UK (on the navimag!!)and the newly married dutch couple (Chris and Caroline) and went rafting. It was really fun and not nearly as petrifying as I had expected. Basically the hardcore rafting part of the river was closed becasue it had been raining lots (so the level 5 rapids were actually level 6) so they would only let us do the mediocre version. It was level 3.5-4. I think this is the right size for me. The boys could have done with a little more excitment though.  

That evening we went to the hot springs as planned with Dave and Hannah.

Hot springs the night after rafting with Divid and Hannah.
It would have been much nicer to do this after we had been walking all day up the volcano, rather than having floated down a river on a rubber raft, but you can't choose these things and the springs were awesome! They were really natural and the water was crystal clear, by the time you got to the bottom ones (there were 6) they were so hot we couldn't even stay in there for more than a few mins. You cooled down pretty fast though just by getting out of the water to walk to the next pool, as you know we are in the mountains of chile here.

We'd booked an overnight bus to Santiago for the following day so coming home that night (at 12am, the springs are actually open 24hrs!) we were greeted with getting up at 6am plus packing for the bus as we had to check out the following morning, it was a particularly daunting thought to check out at 7am with the prospect of another no-go on the volcano and being sent home again.

Hot springs take two.
Especially as we would have no where to go until our bus left at 9pm and have I mentioned that this place doesn't get going until at least 9.30am?

This was all behind us when we looked out the wimdow and could see the volcaon as clear as crystal. There was no way we were getting out of doing that trek today. Dave and Hannah had to move on to Temuco that day so we were back to the two of us so they joined us with some other agencies to make a group of five for the trek.

it was about 8.30am when we arrived at the bottom of the mountain. There's a chairlift which is supposed to take you up the first 1hr of the mountain trek and then you have 4hrs to do the walk. Unfortunately this was closed so we had to walk for an extra hour up the volcano.

A 45 minute trip to the volcano in the back of the van.
Apparently its closed because it is unsafe becasue they have had bad weather here in the last week. I'm fairly sure they have this kind of weather here all the time, so I'd be pretty concerned catching that chairlift at anytime, if you know what I mean.

Anyway the volcano. To cut a long story short. It was a long slow trek up the mountain, the view was absolutely specatucalar (check out the photos) the weather was absolutely clear, we couldn't have asked for a better day. We couldn't believe our luck considering the weather the day before and the one before that. We put on cramp-ons to trek the final three hours up the mountain. This makes for slow walking, especially when mine came off about every half an hour and the guide had to keep fixing them. (I think our research into the cheapest  travel agency should have included a rating on the gear they provide! I won't even begin on the plastic ski boot things they made us wear).

The start of the trek up the volcano. It looked a long way standing at the bottom.

We could see steam coming out of the top of the volcano the whole way up, but when we got there it was clear it wasn't steam but actually sulphur gas. I couldn't even look in the crater because I couldn't get close enough without having a coughing fit! Its fair to say though the view was one of the most amazing I have ever seen (again check out the pics).

The hike up was a little bit like a highway of trekking groups all heading up the volcano, and were pretty happy to be one of the first groups. Especially as we started sliding back down some gropus were still about 1hr from the top, and it was a lot faster sliding down than walking up. I wouldn't have wanted to be in their shoes. Particuarly when a cloud came from nowhere to give us a complete white out and we could only see about 10m in front of us the whole way down the mountain.

About half an hour in. Chairlift not working, note the ant like trails of potential illegitimate parents (backpackers) in front of us.
We slid down on our behinds using the ice axe as a brake. AC had this covered, it was definitely not my forte and I lost control numerous times and losing the ice axe made it pretty tough to stop.

So the trek down was about 1.5hrs compared to the 4 or so hours up, and by the time we made it to the bus were absolutely staurated from the snow going completely through all our clothes. We are now in Santiago and flying to Lima on April 29.

 

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Volcano Villarica, its big. Standi…
Volcano Villarica, its big. Stand…
Near the top, ice picks crossed.
Near the top, ice picks crossed.
Pretty impressive view from the to…
Pretty impressive view from the t…
Time for some white water rafting.…
Time for some white water rafting…
The Trancurra River. Youre water …
The Trancurra River. You're water…
Hot springs the night after raftin…
Hot springs the night after rafti…
Hot springs take two.
Hot springs take two.
A 45 minute trip to the volcano in…
A 45 minute trip to the volcano i…
The start of the trek up the volca…
The start of the trek up the volc…
About half an hour in. Chairlift n…
About half an hour in. Chairlift …
At the top of the chairlift.
At the top of the chairlift.
AC and his ice pick!
AC and his ice pick!
Nice view. Two other volcanos can …
Nice view. Two other volcanos can…
At the top, the ctaer is big. Yell…
At the top, the ctaer is big. Yel…
Plastic boots, crampons and gators…
Plastic boots, crampons and gator…
View from near the top, very impre…
View from near the top, very impr…
Ice picks ahoy!
Ice picks ahoy!
Picturesque (AC, not the view).
Picturesque (AC, not the view).
Another nice view
Another nice view
Another nice view
Another nice view
At the bottom where we started the…
At the bottom where we started th…
Pucon
photo by: Biedjee