Outdoor in Chile: Climbing the Villarrica Volcano in Pucón
September 1, 2016
by Kristin Kersten
You love nature and outdoor adventures? Than Pucón has to be on your travel bucket list!
Araucanía region: Pucón
Pucón is a small town located in the Araucanía region in the South of Chile. It is a beautiful and charming village with wooden style houses and the view of the volcano on one side and the lake Villarrica on the other side of the town. So in summer you can melt away in the sun lying on the black beach, getting tanned and if you look behind you, you will see the volcano covered with snow. A unique, magic and unforgettable experience!
On the main street you will find many little restaurants and bars offering all kind of Chilean and international food. Especially in December and January you will find this little village crowded by many tourists. If you prefer places with less people, October or November would be the perfect moment to visit Pucón and to be able to enjoy it without thousands of other tourists.
You can get to Pucón from Santiago de Chile in a 10 hours bus ride that cost you between 15 and 35 US $, depending on the bus agency and the comfort of your seat. But normally the bus services in Chile are very good, secure and comfortable.
Sports, adventure holidays and outdoors in Pucón
Pucón is famous between those that like adventure holidays and nature. It is the perfect place if you love outdoor sports and activities. You can find everything from Rafting in the Trancura River, Trekking in the nearby mountains and to little waterfalls in the surrounding areas, Snowboarding and Skiing, Kayaking and Climbing the volcano Villarrica or simply relaxing in the Hot Springs that are only a few kilometres away.
Villarrica Volcano on Pucón
The Villarrica is a 2840 m high volcano and it is said to be one of the most active volcanoes in Chile (50 eruptions in the last 500 years) and one of the world´s most popular stratovolcanoes for climbing. Several tourist agencies in Pucón offer daily Villarrica climbings for about 40,000 Chilean Pesos (CLP) which are about 70 USD. You will find those agencies on the main street and can compare prices that might vary a little bit. Chile is not the cheapest country, but if you really love outdoors and amazing landscapes, it is definitely worse it and an unforgettable experience!
I decided to climb up the Villarrica, because I have never been up a volcano and I wanted to challenge myself. The tour began early in the morning, because it was going to be a long walk up the peak. Meeting point for the tour was one of the hostels in Pucón at 7 am. On my way to the hostel I started doubting and I thought to myself: “What am I doing here? I have never climbed up a volcano or done any similar trek. What if I am not able to make it up to the top?” But there was no turning back now! I decided to do this climb, so now it was too late for doubts or regrets.
In the hostel we all got our climbing equipment (shoes, ice axe, helmet, crampons and rear end) and off we went to the Pucón Ski Resort at the base of the volcano at 1,400 m. From there we walked up to the parking lot of the lift. Here you could decide whether you wanted to take the chair lift (6,000 CLP) and save almost two hours of walk or be more adventurous and strong and walk all the way up.
Almost all my group chose to take the chair lift. And because of my doubts if I was able to climb that volcano, I decided to do the same. As soon as the lift leaves you at the end station, the walk began.
The walk is not very difficult or technical. You walk up in nearly horizontal zig zag lines like lemmings securing always a safe position with your ice axe and crampons. Our tour guides explained very well how to walk and secure yourself and were very attentive the whole way. As we were getting higher and higher, the air got thinner and the view got more beautiful with every footstep.
Our group was a mix of people of many different countries and the whole walk we were joking, chatting and getting to know each other, so we did not really feel the effort we were making. We made a little pause to have a small lunch that everyone brought and continued our way up to our goal: the peak of this stunning volcano!
After a view hours we finally reached the top of Villarrica! I could not believe that I really achieved climbing up my first volcano! I was proud of myself and overwhelmed by this amazing view from 2,840 m! It was a great experience and I extended my limits once again. We spend some time on the top of the volcano, enjoying the view, building a snowman and breathing this incredibly fresh air filling your lungs with the purest oxygen! In those moments you feel so alive and connected with the nature that surrounds you. You can also go closer to the crater and feel that heat that comes out of this powerful volcano. After a while we decided to make our way back to town, because it was already getting late.
And now the funniest part of the tour, that everybody was waiting for, came: sliding down the snow on rear ends! All the way that we walked up suffering for hours, we now slide down in minutes! Like little kids we enjoyed speeding up on those rear ends, screaming and laughing like crazy!
The last part we had to walk, because there was no snow anymore. And about 5 pm we got back to the hostel where we shared some drinks and planned our night out together… J Because besides all the nature and outdoors activities, Pucón is also known for its nightlife between young people.
All in all it was an unforgettable experience that I would always do again!