Chile is a very long, narrow country which made it challenging to see and do everything we wanted. We wanted to make our way to the Atacama desert, especially to try some sand boarding but we unfortunately never made it. We did, however, try a variation of sand boarding in Concon( see other Chile blog post!)! We also really wanted to check out Patagonia, we heard endless incredible things about this area. Patagonia is roughly 2000km from Santiago, making it challenging to access. Chile is also an expensive country, your day to day living is very similar to the cost in Canada.
We had heard if we weren’t going to fully submerge into what Patagonia had to offer then we should at least go to Pucon( the beginning of Patagonia) which was still 900 km away and see the beauty it had to offer.
We decided to book a night bus and travel from Santiago to Pucon for 10 hours.
FINALLY, Pucon!! This was at the very end of our trip and also my favorite part!
Pucon is in a lake district which is also surrounded by mountains, volcanos, and beaches. Pucon was a small town that had a lake-life/camping feel to it. The atmosphere was very laid back.In January and February (which is Chile’s summer break), Pucon is a definite hot spot in Chile and is known to be an adventure hub, there are a wide range of activities to do, including hiking a volcano, white water rafting, water sports, skiing, and snowboarding. To top it all off, there are natural hot springs everywhere in surrounding valleys.
We only had 3 days in Pucon before we had to take the night bus back to Santiago. We decided to book some tours and see what kind of activities we could do!
On our first night there, we visited Termas Geometricas. These natural hot springs are nestled in the middle of the mountains, close to the Villarrica volcano. These were the most incredible hot springs I have ever seen, with over 17 pools (ranging from 35-45 degrees Celsius) and 2 waterfalls. This is an oasis in the middle of the mountains! When we made it back to our bus to head back to Pucon, the bus was broken down. Go figure. Now it doesn’t seem like such a big deal but at the time this was an unfortunate situation! We waited 2 hours in the middle of nowhere with no lights and no one else around, but hey, we survived!
Villarrica volcano is located near Pucon and is an active volcano. Its last eruption was in 2015 and the summit sits at 2890m (~9,000 ft). Jesse, Jacky( a German girl we met. Side note – did you know that Germany is actually called Deutschland and Americans are the only people who refer to it as Germany) and I decided to hike it. We booked the tour with Pucon Adventures and prepared all of our equipment for the hike. We met at 6am, grabbed our gear and drove to the base of the volcano (which sits at ~1400m). We were lucky enough to watch the sunrise from the base and then off we went! There was an option to take a chairlift to the 1/4 point of the hike and start the hike from there. The chairlift was 10,000 pesos. Most people from the groups took the chairlift, but Jesse and I were up for the challenge and skipped the lift to hike from the base. This first part of the hike was by far the most challenging as we walked through deep volcanic rock, where each step sunk in. We made it to the top of the chairlift in 43 min and were pumped to keep going and make it to the summit. The hike to the summit took ~ 4 hours. Once we passed the chairlift, we started hiking through the snow/glacier. We were so focused on the hike in front of us that every time we did turn around the view was even more spectacular! Once at the summit we had to wear gas masks due to the toxic gases emitted from the volcano. We spent ~10-15 minutes at the top and then started our descent. In our bags, we carried a light snowsuit and a plastic piece for us to sit on so we could SLIDE down the volcano. I wish I would have been able to get a video of this, but unfortunately, I wasn’t able to! The descent took ~ 2 hours and we had a blast! Once we were back at the base, there was a man selling cervesas, of course, we had to have one for completing one of the most amazing and challenging hikes we have ever done!
Overall, Chile is an amazing country with lots to offer. We had a really great trip and would recommend this destination to other travelers!