We didn’t know it, but the sunny days we enjoyed in San Pedro de Atacama were to be the last before at least a week! From San Pedro, we took a bus to Calama, then a plane to Santiago, and finally a night bus to Pucon. No need to say we were happy to finally arrive in Pucon 🙂 The city is situated about 10 hours of bus South of Santiago de Chile and directly next to the volcano Villarrica. Here is a view of it from the kitchen of our hostel.
Pucon was our first encounter with the weather in North Patagonia during spring. We naively thought there would be no snow left at this period of the year – we were wrong! First of all, it snowed more than usually the past winter in Chile, where there was anyway a lot of snow on mountains. And secondly, spring is still early to be able to fully enjoy Patagonia beauties. Many hikes are still closed because the snow and/or bad weather or mud. Yes, mud. At the beginning, we thought it very surprising that the park guards would close the trails only because of mud. But we quickly figured out that mud was indeed a reasonnable reason to close a trail:
- try to jump on small stones and branches to pass a 10 meters long and 30 centimeters deep mud’s pool,
- fail and fall in it once or twice
- get yourself as dirty as you Can
- repeat this experience every 50 meters
- and you will soon find it a reasonnable reason as well!
We had originally planned two hikes around Pucon – the Villarrica Traverse and a three days hike in the Huerquehue National Park – and we couldn’t do neither of them. We instead decided to go for small day hikes from Pucon.
siiinging hiiiiiking in the rain
Santuario El Cañi
First, we hiked to the Santuario El Cani. The hike normally leads up a valley to the top of a small mountain from which we were supposed to see four volcanos. While waiting for the bus, we met with a korean girl who decided to join us. So we headed there as a group of 3.
While the beginning was very steep and very muddy due to the weather, after about 1.5 hours we entered a flatter area with some snow. The level of the snow continously raised and at the end we were walking on 1.5m of snow when we arrived at the area with the lakes. We decided, despite the bad weather, to try to reach the look out point and climbed a steep and snowy hill to reach the last point of this hike. Sadly, we were not able to see any one of the 4 volcanos we were supposed to be able to see from here.
For the way back, we sat on our rain trousers and slided the mountain down: we had a lot of fun there 😀 Luckily, we found a chilenean couple who was willing to wait for us and bring us back to Pucon. Indeed, it took us way longer to hike that day than anticipated and we would have missed our bus connection back to Pucon.
Huerquehue National Park
Another hike led us to the Huerquehue National Park, which we orignally intended to cross including a night next to some hidden hot springs. But as the park was closed we just hiked the opened area which was about the first day of our intended hike. The weather was even worse than before and we had to fight our way up the hill against mud and snow. On the picture below, you can see the “way”!
There were some amazing waterfalls to be seen and the landscape was fantastic with its many lakes and large forests. However, we decided to return early and rushed back to the bus to catch the bus at 14:00 as we were looking forward to a hot shower after that rainy morning.
Climbing on an active volcano
The Villarrica Volcano offers a popular skying resort – but it is above all else the easiest active volcanos to climb in Chile. Sadly, the weather was constantly cloudy and rainy during our stay, meaning we were not able to climb it as there was no tour Operator offering the tour under these conditions. Instead, we spent some relaxing days in this very beautiful region and enjoyed probably the best accommodation we found during our trip!! But if you are planning to stay in Pucon, don’t miss this opportunity, it looked really great 🙂
We greatly enjoyed our stay here in Pucon. The prices were affordable and we found everything we needed to cook some food we had been dreaming about for a couple of weeks already! We even had wine 😀 When the weather is nice, there are plenty of activities to do around the city: hiking, horse riding, kayaking, rafting… All in all, we would definitely recommend to stop by this beautiful place.
Click here if you want to see all of our pictures around Pucon.
How to get there
Pucon is easy to reach from Santiago: a night bus costs around 14.000CP/Person for a semi-cama seat and the journey takes 10 to 12 hours.
The hostel we stayed in is, until this day, the nicest we had in our whole trip through South America: Hostal French Andes. The rooms are lovely, the showers amazing and the common room with the kitchen offers a very beautiful view on the Villarica volcano. We paid between 20.000CP and 26.000CP per night for a double room with private bathroom. It is not cheap, but it was worth every single peso 🙂