Chile’s Adventure Capital – Pucon
If you are a thrill seeker and happen to find yourself in Chile then make your way to Pucon. The southern city is the country’s adventure capital and home to all sorts of amazing activities. Pucon is located a 2 hour flight or 10 hour bus ride from the capital of Santiago and is a definite must stop on the way south to Patagonia. The city is an adventure town that has streets remnicesent of western U.S. ski towns. In Pucon you can do pretty much anything you want. They have outfitters that will help you paraglide, mountain bike, white water raft, hike, windsurf, and countless other options.
The highlight of the region is Villarrica, a live, smoldering 9,000+ ft Volcano just south of the town. When you step off the bus it feels like you’ve entered a town straight out of a fairy tale as you see this snow capped, smoking volcano as you walk through the streets. The trips to climb the mountain are easy to come across with countless outfitters in town. Most range from 35-45 thousand pesos which is $70-90 USD, but that includes all of your gear and transportation. The day of the climb starts bright and early with most groups arriving to the mountain before sunrise. The hike is straight up from there. It takes about 3 and half hours and requires Crampons and an Ice Axe, but it not too technical. Basically, it is non-stop switchbacks across the glowing snow field leading to a sulfer stained summit that provides spectacular views of other volcanoes and lakes in the surrounding area. The way down is way more fun! It involves putting on padded pants and sliding several hundred yards at a time using your Ice Axe as a brake to slow you down. It was an amazing experience to slide down the mountain in a third of the time that it took you to climb up. Follow-up the hike with a trip to the natural hot springs to rest the muscles before the next day’s adventures.
Another great day activity from Pucon is hiking in HHH national park. It is about 45 minutes away and offers awesome hiking trails up to Alpine Lakes. The lakes are absolutely crystal clear and provide a great place for lunch during the 6-7 hour loop of hiking. There are also places to camp within the park and some small restaurants for food.
For accommodations in Pucon check out The Treehouse Hostel, which is owned and operated by a British Woman and Chilean Man who will make your stay very easy for about $20 a night. The Hostel’s grounds include hammocks, grill, kitchen, and of course…free wifi.
Overall, Pucon is a must see destination in Chile and provides multiple unique Adventure Tourism activities that are hard to beat anywhere else in the world