After discovering the warm and sunny north of Chile i took the Bus to Pucon which is surrounded by forrest, rivers and lakes with the huge Villarica volcano right next to the city. Pucon is the spot for travellers who are in search of action & adventure – Are you up for a hike to the top of an active volcano? Here are my recommendations for things to do in Pucon, for Hostels and Tour operators.
1) Pucón (your base)
During the summer, tourist attractions include hiking, rafting, horse back riding, birdwatching, fishing and canopy. Due to its privileged natural surroundings, near a volcano and several lakes, nature reserves and thermal baths, Pucón is a destination which can rely on tourism all year round. In winter and spring, it is possible to go skiing or snowboarding on the trails of the Villarrica volcano. (Pucón on Wikipedia.org)
If you are in search of adventure and outdoor activities this little city, located in the Araucania Region in the south of Chile has to be on your list. In the summertime Pucon is the hotspot for the chilean because it is located directly next to the huge Villarica lake which is quite warm during that time (up to 22°C) compared to the cold South Pacific Ocean. But is also popular by foreign tourists all year round because of the mentioned various activities you can do there.
Again I took the bus to get there, this time from Concepcion which took me about 6hrs due to the fact that i had to change the bus in Temuco with a wating time of 2hours – from Santiago there is a direct connection with TurBus (9-11 hrs, mostly overnight). After arriving in the evening i made my way to the Hostal “El Refugio” – in the end this Hostel was the best i've been to in Chile. Located directly next to the bus terminal of JAC and Pullmann it is perfect for backpackers: 2 shared bathrooms, 2 dorms, 2 double bedrooms, you can use the kitchen, you have free WiFi and a PC – but the best is the big lounge with the fireplace, a hammock and couch.
This time I booked all my tours at the hostel which has a cooperation with the local agency “Sierra Nevada” (you’ll find them diagonally opposite from the town hall at the main street of Pucon) – the guides here are also pretty good, especially for the volcano tour it is highly recommended!
2) Huerquehue Park
Actually I wanted to go rafting on my first day but due to the fact that it was the low season there were not enough people willing to do this, too. So i decided to join some guys of my hostel for a hike in one of the 3 National Parks around Pucon. The Huerquehue Park is a really good spot for short and long hikes because you have good signed paths. Unfortunately we had only 3hours for a short walk but we made our way along the lake and through the primeval forrest to see a huge waterfall and a nice mirador.
I'd recommend to take more time and do the whole “Three Lakes Hiking Trail.”
3) Volcano Villarica
There is absolutely no question about it: climbing the Volcano Villarica is the MUST DO if you are in Pucon. The Villarico Volcano is the second most active volcano in South America and the main reason for my stay in Pucon. My plan was to climb the most dangerous volcano (due to the short distance to pucon), but i knew that this would be not easy to do. In the agency we get the stuff we needed: climbing boots, Crampons, Helmet, Jacket & Pants, Backpack and an Icepick. We started at 7h with the bus and began our walk from the parking space of “Ski Pucon”: after an exhausting 6h hike we reached the top and enjoyed a breathtaking view inside the crater and around:
4) Snowshoeing in el Cani
The Region around Pucon is called the Araucania Region because of the trees you can find here: the Araucaria tree is one of the oldest trees of the world and the national tree of Chile. A lot of these trees can be seen in the private National Park “El Cani”: a park which was founded by some local people who wanted to protect this area from the woodworking industry – so they bought the territory. El Cani is a phrase from the Mapuche language and can be translated as “the changing view”: if you are on top of this high plateau you'll realize what this phrase is about.
But before that you have to take a steep trail to get there – after 2h we had to put on the snowshoes: we walked through a former volcanic crater with lagoons and the mentioned trees around us. We were alone in this area – only us and the tourguide which is needed to get access and to not get lost (there are no paths and signs).
5) Pictures from the South
You've been there, too?
Share your expreriences and recommendations with the readers by adding a comment!
More things to do in Chile?
Sure – head over to the Travel Guide Section where you'll find more guides for Chile and have also a look at the videos and photos!
4 thoughts on “Backpacking Chile: Top things to do in Pucon”
Thanks for sending me the link to this post. I’m going to check out more of what you have to say about Chile. The volcano hike looks incredible. I’m definitely going to do it!
You should! But be sure to plan at least some days for Pucon – ometimes you have to wait for better weather for the climb!
Dear Steve, do you remember me? I am a Chinese who lives in America and met you in the hostel in Lima. This is Royan. I am back to the normal life now. I am so glad to visit your blog and my daughter Elsie who is 13 years old, is your big fun now. I am so glad you are in the road and does things you really have passion for. Keep up the good work! Royan
Hey Royan! Nice to hear from you, glad you found my blog and I can count you into my audience from now on! Hope you’re doing well and you hit the road soon for the next travel adventure. Say Hi to Elsie from me!
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