Pucon is the best extreme sports town. There’s rafting, multi day hiking trips in the nearby park, kyaking and sooo much more. The main street in filled with restaurants/bars and tour agencies. And the biggest attraction – Villarrica Volcano. Villarrica was the best experience and highlight of my trip. I would do it again in an instant.
To climb Villarrica, you can’t do it on your own, you have to go with a tour company. We went with Aqua Adventura which has a reputation of being first on the volcano. Since this is the most active volcano in chile, with chlorine and sulfur gas spewing out of it, you arrive the day of your climb at 6:15am sharp and they tell you the weather report, if the weather is bad, raining, wrong wind direction or anything, they cancel the tour. They even check the weather when you get to the base of the volcano since it can change in an instant. You’ll get a free refund if they do cancel it. They also give you all the gear you want and don’t want. They give you shoes, coat and pants (which you only wear going down), ice pick and helmet. They also give you a big backpack to put it all in and with everything in it, there’s not much room left. Could hardy pack my lunch in there, so that means i had to leave my Nikon camera and just brought the GoPro. They even had a special helmet with a GoPro mount.
On the day that we went the weather was perfect and we were able to trek up. The only thing that went wrong for us was the huge hold up at the chair lift. The trek can be divided into 2 parts, the sandy and snow part. They have a chair lift that goes up the sandy part, cause well, who likes walking up hill in loose sand for 1km? Yeah, no one. The thing was, the day before, some girl fell off the chair lift trying to take a selfie with her selfie stick and broke her jaw, hip and ribs. So the day we went, they were trying to figure out the best way to send us up which meant adjusting the rules. Since we were waiting for the chairlift, the other tours groups closed in on us and our lead was ruined.
The whole trek up was on snowy ice where you literally followed in the tracks of the person ahead of you. The hike is 3km long with a kilometre of elevation gain. The trekking in the snow was the best ever, actually my favourite and easily do able. They don’t take many breaks so the camelbak bladder was great for drinking water without stopping. Also went through 3L of water. Standing still it was really chilly, but trekking up got really hot and fast. It took about 4 hours to get to the top.
Being on top was so rewarding! we had lunch at the top and then went exploring. The tour guide brought us over towards and sadly into the chlorine and sulfur gas, oh was it ever intoxicating. We got out of the gas fast. But it was intimidating looking down into the volcano. No you cannot see lava, if you see lava, that’s bad. This is an active volcano, lava near the top? bad news. We didn’t stay too long at the top, maybe 40 minutes. The best part comes next; sliding down the volcano.
Most thrilling experience of the trip, the initial slide down was the “worst” it was extreamly steep and you were just getting use to the feeling. You used the ice pick to gauge your speed. By the end of the last run you were using the ice pick as a paddle to go faster. They also gave you an orange piece of plastic to use sort of as a crazy carpet to go faster down the last part of the volcano which was more shallow. We slid down all the way to the chair lift and then walked down in the sand. We got back into town around 3pm. It was the best day ever.