Pucon Travel Blog› entry 11 of 35 › view all entries
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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).
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.
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.