The main attraction of this national park is Volcan Villarrica. A lot of visitors sign up to climb the volcano and then slide down. The park stretches across to the Argentine border covering three sectors including Sector Ricapillan features Volacn Villarrica. To climb up Volcan Villarrica you need to sign up with a guided tour and there are a number of companies in Pucon who offer this tour. The less visited sectors are Quetrupillan with its termas and waterfall and close to the Argentine border, Sector Puesco with Laguna Abutardes and Volcan Quetrupillan and on the Argentine border itself, there's Volcan Lanin! To climb and appreciate the volcano, you're best making arrrangements in San Martin de Los Andes in Argentina.
*Sorry no photos available*
But will be some on a future visit to Pucon
Lago Caburgua and Environs
It's worth spending some time at Lago Cabargua for its tranquil and pleasant setting apart from the busy times during the Chilean Summer (January & February) where many Chileans pack its beaches including Playa Blanca and Playa Negra. As well as the lake there is the Ojos de Cabargua, a waterfall and not far from the lake and various waterfalls. You can catch either a mini-bus or collectivo from Pucon.
You have a choice where you can horse-rider whether if it's in Parque Nacional Villarrica or Liucara Valley and riding past the Mapuche villages. There are various treks available. The company I rode with and I highly recommend is Horse Trekking Antilco situated 12 km East of Pucon and near Rio Liucura. They offer half and multi-day excursions in the area.
Because of the volcanic activity, there are a number of termas dotted around Pucon and surrounding areas. People bathe in the waters for its health giving properties for various ailments.
I visited two termas during my visit to Pucon (November 2008). The first one I visited were Termas Los Pozones. They're near the village Huife, 16km East of Pucon, and the termas simply consist of shallow pools dug out by the Rio Liucura and dammed up with stones. There's a three hour limit visiting the termas because they're open allnight and people have been using it as cheap accommodation.
Another terma I visited was Termas Quimey-Co where two swimming pools have been dug out besides the Rio Liucura. It's 25 km from Pucon and 10 km from Lago Caburgua. There's an indoor spa suite (additional charge) where you can relax in the jacuzzi and have an aqua massage.
The termas are very difficult to reach without a car so it's best either driving yourself or joining a tour to the termas or on a minibus that go to the nearest villages.
You can either drive or carch a bus from Pucon to the park. It costs approximately 6000 CLP (November 2008) to visit. It's renowned for the araucana forests, mountains and lakes. Compared to Parque Nacional Villarrica it has a rich biodiversity including a wide range of flora and fauna and wildlife. You arrive at El Nido del Aguila, the main entrance to the park. You ascend through the forest via very steep terrain to the two miradors look Lago Trinquilco and across, in the distance, Volcan Villarrica. Then a further ascent leads to the other lakes: Chico, Toro and Verde. It takes around 3-4 hours to reach to the top. On the way down it's worth make a diversion to the Salto Trufulco and the Cascada Nido de Aguila. Serious hikers can do multi day circular walks around the national park where there are termas and lodging available.
People of Pucon are constantly under the threat of their neighbouring volcano. It's also their pride and the most photographed sight in the region. In the central information center there is a volcano indicator with different colours showing the level of danger of explosion. Locals say they are more anxious when it stops ..smoking, as a constant amount of gases come out of its crater. When it stops it's logical, they say, that the pressure in the interior becomes dangerous.
The climb is not easy at all especially if the weather is too cold or too windy. One third is part of a glacier and at some parts the climb is vertical.
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Having lost all hopes that I could see everything of interest in Pucon area and having little time left I decided to get some local transport and go through some villages in the neighbourhood. Lican Ray is beautifully located on lake Calafquen offering two good beaches with very nice views and a lot of forested area around. Its name means "flower of rock" and has about 3,000 people. It's 30 kms from Villarica and 50 from Pucon. So first I went to Villarica and got on a bus for Lican Ray. After having got enough of it I got on another bus going along the lake side to Coñaripe . This is much smaller more rustic and also on the same lake. It has a nice beach and a popular thermal springs hotel. It's 60 kms from Villarica.
Wonderful day! I am sure I have left a lot of beauty unseen in this area but... time is never enough !!!
Just 17 kms from Pucon there lies a magnificent scenery of roaring cascades coming through underground paths from Lake Caburgua. They are gathering in the middle of the lush forest through several cascades and form little sparkling pools and transparent streams. A lot of local people and tourists come here to take a bath, walk in the forest or lay under the trees just breathing the fresh air !!!
They told me that the quantity of water has a dramatic change depending on the season. So it's better in their winter time but it's not bad in the summer, too, as you can camp in the area and be part of it. A few kilometers of walk can take you to beautiful cascades "Los Saltos de Bellavista" and "Los Copihues". If you walk more you come to "La Puntilla", where two rivers meet forming wonderful small islands. Later there are Salto Carhuello and Salto de Carileufu and finally you come to a hostel and tea house. Enjoy it !!
Park Huerquehue is a piece of paradise! A piece of beautiful native forest with abrupt hills, shimmering lakes and lagoons, streams and gorges, and a lot of springs. Near the entrance there is a camping site in a beautiful location on the lake side. The path is well maintained but quite strenuous as it goes higher. Nevertheless I have seen even children going up. Wonderful views are offered in reward all along the way!! It normally takes about 5-6 hours. If you get there by the 8.00 bus you will take 3 hours to get to Lagoon Verde, two hours to rest, enjoy the view or take a bath in the crystal clear lake water and about 2 hours to walk down in time for the afternoon bus to Pucon. There is an administration office several meters from the entrance where you can get any information. If you are not certain about the correct way ask the few locals living in the park. There are other paths which branch off the central path leading to cascades and lagoons.
Use a walking stick . It's much easier and there are several already made left on the ground by the entrance.
Canopying is also very popular here in Pucon as there are tall trees and rivers. It involves hanging from leather stripes and strong metal cables while sliding between treetops. It's easy , it's exciting, it's safe !! For more information go to my Chile Things to do Canopying
Most Volcanic Thermal Springs are nowadays part of hotel premises...However you can find it convenient to stay in the not-so-cheap hotels, and have it as a base for more activities. There is no doubt the locations are excellent ! Some of the names are Huife, Menetue, Palquin, Panqui, San Luis. Others are in wonderful natural locations such as Termas Geometricas at the foot of a gorge. Los Pozones is a cheap one at 3,500 $ch. offering just the basics and often visited in the night !!
Anyway if you just wish to offer your tired body time for relaxation , book a visit with a travel agency. You will be picked up at your hotel, transferred to the hot springs, have one hour of bathing, have a free Pisco Sour and go to sleep for hours...
The entrance for bathing in the jacuzzi style inside pools or two outside pools is from 6.00ch.p. to 8,500 ch.p. (13-17$US) depending on the hotel. And the hotel prices is 60$US - 120$US a room in high season. In off season periods there are many offers. Massage and a lot of body and face treatment services are available.
What ever decision you come up with, I am absolutely sure you will be happier when you are leaving..!!!
A different, challenging and cold activity, that`s what climbing the volcano Villarrica meant to me.
Pucon has this one peculiar view: a big and beautiful volcano that seems to be just a few blocks away.
Most of the agencies at the main street can take you to this trip, but be sure you picked a trustful one! Some of them say that the rain or the bad weather won`t interfere on the climbing, but this could ruin the whole activity... and the money is not returnable because of weather circunstances if the climbing has already begun. Ask for suggestions, people are always willing to help!
After choosing the agency, be sure the equipment is new and check your backpack before you leave, some people were very unlucky and part of the equipment was missing when they got to the volcano.
The climb begins in the morning and it takes 4 to 5 hours to reach the summit, depending on the weather and mostly on your physical conditions.
Unfortunately, I wasn`t in a very good shape and a storm reached me before I reach the summit! After 6 hours going up, I finally had to start my way down. It was very sad that I couldn`t take a look at the lava, but going down was the funny part! I had never seen snow before, so sliding was a funny and freezing experience for me!
Total: 8 hours
Well, I couldn`t walk for 2 days after that, but it was the most unfogettable part of my trip throug Patagonia.
Don`t forget the sunscreen, and don`t ever think that your lips won`t burn, couse if it`s not the sun, it will be the wind!
We decided to do a night time trip to the Pozones Hot Springs. Cost 10, 000Chilean Pesos (several companies do it, we booked thorugh our hostel (Backpackers Hostel)- standardized prices). We left at 8pm. The springs were great- 6 thermal pools which get progressively hotter up to 43 degrees celcius (it was nice at night but I imagine in the day, the hot sun and hot springs would be uncomfortable). Also loads of mossies whcih weirdly didn't bite us! The hottest pool was a bit too hot and I ended up sitting on the rocks and just dangling my feet in. The second coolest is the most comfortable. For brave people, you can go and jump in the cold river running next to the springs.
We took champagne and chocolates to eat in the springs, everyone takes food though its not supposed to be allowed.
We stayed there for a couple of hours gazing up at the trillions of stars in the night sky eventually getting back to the hostel about 1am.
In the summer, it is heaving. The Chilean women aren't the prettiest race around (no offense to the Chile ladies out there, but in comparison I mean), but if there are some in Chile, then they have definately headed to the Pucon beach for the summer. For all those confused Aussies out there, the beach is actually on the lake. Yes that's right, a beach inland.
Anyway, it's a great way to pass a few hours in the afternoon.
Yeah after a long day climbing the volvano, or rafting or whatever, then there's no better way to relax then in the hot springs.
There are heaps around, but apparantly ?????????????? are the ost naturla ones. It's a great way to see the sunset.
All say that alcohol isn't permitted, but this isn't policed at all, and it's great to gave a ice cold beer.