- Michelle Sole
Pucon; a place of natural beauty and outdoor adventure.
Nestled in the heart of Chile's lake district lies Pucon. The town sits on the shore of lake Lago Villarrica and is dwarfed by the snow capped Vilarrica volcano. The town has a definite 'ski resort' feel to it. Cafes, bars, ice cream and chocolate shops line the streets; you won't go hungry here!
Nature lovers will not be disappointed by Huerquehue National Park. There are plenty of hikes, two being particularly popular. One to Los Lagos, a 4-5 hour return journey to four lakes and two waterfalls.
The hike to the lakes requires some level of fitness. Along the way you are surrounded by monkey puzzle trees and can see Volcanoes in the distance and lakes below. The other hike offered here takes you to the summit of San Sebastien. This hike takes 5-6 hours and requires a good level of fitness as there is an ascent of 1200m. From the top on a clear day you can see eight different volcanoes. Take caution here and be sure to follow the park rangers advice by not attempting this hike in bad weather.
A trip to Pucon would not be complete without a visit to Villarrica volcano. An easy four hour return hike will take you to the base of the volcano where you can get up close to volcanic rock and tunnels made from the cooling of magma known as lava tubes. The views from the base of Villarica look across lake Pucon and on a clear day you can see the snow capped Andes. Those more daring can summit the active volcano with a licenced guide fully equipped with crampons. If you are lucky you can see magma bubbling below you!
Adrenaline junkies can get their fix white water rafting. There are two options here - Alto (rapids grade 4-5) and Bajo (grades 3-4). White water rafting is great fun and gives a different perspective to the stunning scenery. From La Tracura river of the Bajo trip you can see three volcanos. After hiking, rafting and summiting volcanoes, a trip to the hot springs is a good way to wind down. Pucon's beach with it's black volcanic sand is also a good place to relax with an ice cream. You could also take a scenic boat trip on lake Villarrica.
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