ChileLatin AmericaPucon

Pucon, a trip to the Chilean Araucania.

Pucon, which in Mapuche means “entrance to the mountain range”, is the most tourist city of Araucanía. Located 785 km from Santiago, it offers a great number of adventure activities: ascend to the crater of a volcano, rafting, horseback riding, bicycle routes, trekkings, …

The region of the Araucanía stands out for its volcanoes, mountains, lakes, rivers, fishing, forests, thermal baths … that make this place a spectacular natural setting.

How to get to the city of Pucon?

There are several options to get here:

    1. Direct flight from Santiago. It is the most direct and fastest way to get there, although the Pucon airport is not operational all year round and has less frequent flights than nearby cities.
    2. Flight to Temuco city. While it is not the most direct way, you have more flight options than traveling directly. Once there, move by bus or rent a car to the city of Pucon, 100 km away.
    3. Flight to Valdivia city. This city is somewhat further away from Pucon than Temuco (150 km). However, it also has good flight availability.
    4. Trip by land from Santiago. This option is the cheapest but also the slowest. You can travel 780 km in 8 hours by car or 10 hours by bus. In this last option, we recommend you travel at night to get to Pucon coming early.

Map of the South of Chile

Accommodation in Pucon

Since Pucon is a tourist site, and relatively close to Santiago, it has a lot of accommodation options: apartments, houses, hotels, hostels …

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When is the best time to visit Pucon?

The best time is between December 15 and end of February, which is when it is best time (austral summer). However, you can find temperatures quite low also in these dates. We went at end of January and had temperatures of 6 degrees at night.

What clothes to wear?

The climate in the Araucanía is quite changeable. It can be very hot during the day and the temperatures drop at sunset. With regard to the rain, it can also rain in summer since it has an oceanic climate.

For this reason we recommend to wear several layers of clothes to adjust according to the heat or cold, as well as:

    1. Waterproof warm clothing.
    2. Sunglasses and sunscreen.
    3. Gloves and cap.
    4. Trekking boots or waterproof footwear.

The city of Pucon

It is a small town, about 38,000 inhabitants, but located in a exceptional natural site: on the shore of Lake Villarrica and near the volcano of the same name.

Villarrica Volcano from Pucon

Being so close to a volcano means you have to take security measures, so do not be surprised if you see any of these signs on the street.

Volcanic risk warning sign

Here, as in the rest of Chile, there is a lot of love for meat grills. Lunch in one of its restaurants and enjoy its choripanes, cube roll, short ribs, …

Chilean barbecue

There are also several markets where handicrafts from Mapuche communities are sold. They stand out for the work in wood, as you can see below …

Mapuche crafts

Trekking to the crater of Villarrica volcano

It is the most typical adventure activity to be done in this area. Of course, you must be fit. It is physically demanding.

We arrived very soon at the agency (6:00), they gave us the equipment (boots and a boilersuit) and the guides explained the route and safety rules. They also told us that if someone was very tired and could not get there, he would come down accompanied by one of them.

The trip starts at the base of the volcano, where a small ski resort is located. If the ski chairlift is running when you go, you’ll save yourself a 50-minute hike uphill by volcanic sand…

Base of the Villarrica volcano

Once we left the chairlift, we placed the crampons, took the ice axes and started the ascent. From here to the crater we went on snow and ice all the way.

View of Villarrica lake

We continue ascending with a calm step and stopping every so often. It is not a very technical trekking, but tired by the unevenness. In one of these stops, we could contemplate some impressive views: lakes, hills and volcanoes were seen in the distance. What a natural wonder!

Views of the Chilean Araucania

We are still moving forward quite tired. We were close, but the last minutes were eternal. We stop for the last time and contemplate again the beautiful views offered by Araucanía …

Villarrica lake

… until, a while later, we finally arrived!. As impressive was the smoking crater as the smell of sulfur (rotten eggs) it gave off. We ended up dead tired, but it was worth it.

Volcano crater

We rested for a while on the summit, took the last pictures and set out on the way back. This time with less effort. We made a “descent in ramasse”, which consists of sliding downhill braking with the ice axe in the snow. A much better option than walking down …

It was a great effort, but it was worth it. You can not visit Pucon without doing this activity!

Visit of the Eyes of Caburga

These water wells are another attraction in the area. Formed by drainage waters of the nearby Caburga lake, they have a very intense blue color.

Well in Caburga's eyes

There is a small circuit to tour them all. You can also get close enough to the different waterfalls that are formed.

Waterfall in eyes of the Caburga

Beaches on the shores of the lakes

Pucon is not only adventure, you can also relax on the shore of one of the lakes in the area. As in the coast, you have access enabled, pleasure boats, restaurants, …

Beach in Chilean lake

Relaxation in the geometric thermal baths

Of all the thermal centers of Araucanía, this is undoubtedly the best. Although it is located somewhat away from Pucon (82 km), it is worth moving there.

Take the Route 199 until you reach the city of Villarrica. There you must continue on the road S-95-T to Conaripe (road T-243-S in the final part). Take the road towards the Villarrica Natural Park (will be indicated) and continue on a somewhat isolated road like 16 km. At the end of the road you will find the geometric thermal baths.

Geometric hot springs

The whole thermal center is in the middle of nature, more specifically within a gorge. To go through each of the thermal baths you have a walkway perfectly integrated with the environment.

Geometric hot springs in Pucon

Other activities

These are the activities that gave us time to make a weekend. However, if you prefer to do others or have more days you can also:

    • Give a horseback ride on one of the routes near Pucon.
    • Cycling route or a descent from any of the hills in the area.
    • Go on a quad along one of the roads near Pucon.
    • Rafting on the Trancura River.
    • See a Chilean rodeo.

Do not hesitate, if you like adventure and want to live the experience of climbing an active volcano … a trip to Pucon is your best option.

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