If the timing and planning of my trip were more thought out, I would have loved to book a tour to the crater of Villarrica volcano, where boiling hot lava flows. However, with limited time, and without all the vital equipment I was only able to get up halfway to view the massive smoking monster. Although, I have to say, whether you’re going up to the top or just halfway, it’s still thrilling, and the views are killer.
Climbing to the top of the volcano is the main attraction around Pucon, this is why so many voyages here. The cost of climbing is around CH 90,000 (prices are subject to change). It takes about 5 hours to go up (depending on the group’s pace) and 2.5 hours to go down. Going down is faster because you will be sliding down the ice.
Another, less active way to view the volcano is to drive up to the base and stroll down to the café. Sitting down with a hot empanada and a fresh coffee you can still enjoy the view of the smoking volcano, a view like no other.
Relatively nearby Pucon, another volcano towers over Parque Nacional Conguillio. This park is formed around the massive gray volcano Llaima. So far it’s considered to be one of the three most active volcanoes on the continent. Even though it last erupted in 1957, it’s still doing an excellent job at destroying the lush park forest around its neck. Hiking through the park doesn’t require any assistance unless the top of the volcano is your ultimate destination (you would need the gear and permission from Conaf ). I was fortunate enough to discover a road that led to an old barn, continuing to the base of the volcano. Exploring the lava-covered hills and getting closer to the bottom of Llaima was nerve-racking and exciting. My first hike to a volcano.
The funny thing about both parks was that they were closed during my travel due to high risk of fire. However, all roads leading to the parks were open, and I was still able to wander around. I guess, in Chile closed doesn’t automatically mean actually closed, it’s more like giving you an option to proceed at your own risk.
Two hot springs:
Hot spring Termas Los Pozones is open from 11am to 12am, it’s very peaceful and beautiful at night. It’s a magnificent location to observe the night sky covered with myriads of stars (living in New York City, I’m more likely to see a movie star). Because of its peaceful nature, mesmerizing night skies and low entry fee, this spot happens to be extremely popular with both the backpackers and locals. At the same time, it does not seem to be crammed with vacationers, which I appreciated. The hot spring pools are located next to a cold river where many take advantage of this proximity by jumping in the river for refreshment and then—back into the pools. Overall, this location may not be fancy; however, it is enjoyable and well maintained.
The park around hot spring Termas geometrical looks like a picture of a tropical island, full of natural wonders. Situated in the deep of a rainforest, amongst two rocky hills with two waterfalls on the sides, “tropical island” was all I could think of. Whoever created this hot spring, chose the right location to do so. Adding some comfort to the natural beauty, there is a small café that offers a reasonably cheap and good selection of food, with a few fire pits to sit by while eating. Altogether,—an ultimate tropical island getaway! Sadly, a massive swarm of kids and adult visitors along with maintenance personnel dashes back and forth making it hard to pass by, and the extremely crowded pools are anything but relaxing. While there, I was missing a few essential things: a shower to wash off the smell of sulfur, and safe and convenient roadway (the road leading there is currently dotted with large potholes and dirt, making it difficult to pass by without a 4×4 vehicle).
In the end, I would unquestionably recommend (and myself come back to) Termas Los Pozones. Plain, comfortable, and straight to the point: relaxing in the hot pools, while enjoying yourself after a long hike, your company, and nature around.