Pucon, Chile. Your next holiday destination
One of the reasons I dislike researching travel destinations is so as to not have any expectations. Or more accurately I love the opportunity to be genuinely wowed by somewhere, having no idea what it may look like. In the past week I spent in Pucon, Chile I can safely say I was more than wowed!
Pucon is located 800km south of Santiago in the southern lake district of Chile. With the beautiful Volcan Villarrica glimmering in the background and Lake Villarrica at the town’s foot, you literally have the best of both worlds … beach and mountains! Additionally it has every outdoor activity known to man and a great night life. From volcano climbing to easy hikes or lazing on the beach, Pucon has something for you!
So … What’s there to do in Pucon?
Though it would be hardly possible to list them all, I shall attempt to highlight some of the main activities to keep you busy.
Climb Volcan Villarrica. A rare opportunity to climb to the summit (2847m above sea level) of an active volcano and peer into the crater. If you are really lucky, you may even see lava! The climb itself is physically quite challenging but well worth the 5/6 hour slog. You can either ski/board or slide down on your butt (seriously!) all the way to the bottom.
Hot springs. There are a number of hot springs in the area, including the stunning geometricas which are set in a canyon surrounded by cascading waterfalls. After a hard days climbing/hiking, they are a warm welcome. Night transport is available to the hot springs if you would prefer to watch the sunset from a warm bathing pool.
Hydrospeeding. The only place is South America is activity is available, the opportunity to swim down some rapids with flippers and a body board. Not for the faint hearted!
White water rafting. Both class 3 & 4 rapids are available in the local area. A little less outrageous than the hydrospeeding option but still plenty of fun.
Canyoning. Abseiling down waterfalls, cliff jumps and natural waterslides will get you up close and personal with nature.
Horseback riding. Horseback riding up and around the mountain range finished back at the local guides house where you enjoy locally cooked meal.
Kayaking. Kayak around the peninsula from beach to beach on La Poza & Lago Villarrica or take the kayak down the rapids for a more adrenaline pumping activity.
Hiking, biking and walking trails. There are numerous trails in the local area of which you can hike or bike to lookout points, waterfalls, lakes and National Parks.
Skydiving. For those who want to see it all from the highest possible viewing point!
And where to stay should I stay?
Both Hostal El Refugio and Chili Kiwi Hostels are a safe bet for accommodation. Ranging from tents to treehouse (nearly completed at Chili Kiwi) to dorms to private rooms, there is something for all budgets. Both hostels are BEYOND friendly with fantastic, welcoming staff who will go out of their way to make you feel at home. Hostal El Refugio has both a pet cat & dog which I felt was a lovely addition and Chili Kiwi overlooks lake Villarrica.
Give me a decent bite or drink!
By far the best food I have had in Chile to date was at Trawen Restaraunt located on the main street. A little more pricey, though certainly not expensive. For cheap but tasty eats Latitude 39 offers very American based food and Ecole delicious vegetarian meals. Cassis for delicious pastries and deserts, of which I personally recommend the nutella hot chocolate! I also heard great things about Beanies and Bikinis (enough said!), Mamas y Tapas and La Maga offering the best steak in town!
OK so how do I get there ?
Accessible by bus, you can fly into Santiago and bus down (11 hours with overnight buses available). Fly to Puerto Montt and bus (5 hours). Additionally there are buses available from other close by towns if you are already in the area (Bariloche, Valparaiso, Valdivia and Puerto Varas)