Published: June 26th 2007June 26th 2007
Now I'm finally off to somewhere that has been recommended to me time and time again by travelers heading north, Pucon. The town of Pucon is the base for many outdoors activities, especially the ascend to the crater of Volcan Villarrica, the reason I was going. Unfortunately, there were no direct buses between Chillan and Pucon that I could easily find, so I ended up taking a bus to the city of Temuco, changing bus terminals and catching another bus onto Pucon. This ended up being a more costly option, but at least I didn't have to wait around until mid-afternoon to catch a bus out of Chillan. On arrival in Pucon, I had no idea where I was going to stay but did have some ideas and then I was approached by someone from Backpacker's Hostel Pucon who offered me a room at his place. As this was on my list, I decided to go there. After checking in, I checked my email and noticed that my friends from Quebec were still in town but in another hostel waiting for the weather to clear up so they could climb Volcan Villarrica. My peaceful time in Pucon was over now
:) I met the guys at their hostel and the owner of that hostel treated me to real coffee and invited me over for a BBQ in the evening with my friends and her friends, so as this party went on rather late, I feel like I spent the night at her place but paid for a room at the hostel that I checked into. The next day I moved to my friends' hostel.
After a failed attempt to climb the volcano the second day I was there due to the road being blocked by a dumping of snow the day before, we enjoyed views of the volcano and roamed around the surrounding areas of Pucon for day enjoying the nice weather. In the evening, we went to some hot springs outside of town which were very relaxing, still nothing even close to the hot springs I went to outside of Arenal in Costa Rica. The next day, the three of us left again to climb the volcano but this time there were more people joining us. This proved to be more of a burden as everything took a lot more time in the morning when preparing to go.
Driving up to where we would start the ascent of the volcano, we noticed that we were starting from even further back than where we made it the first day... makes me think if they really wanted to do the hike the day before or not! Shortly into the hike up the volcano, our group broke up into the fast, medium and slow paced group with guides; my friends and I were in the fast group. Even being in the fast group did not get us to the top. At 2PM, we were told that this is far as we would make it for the day and that we would need to turn around. Our guide said it still was another 3 hours to the crater of the volcano. I kind of had mixed feeling about this. I really wanted to see the crater, but the clouds of smoke coming out of it and the fact we could see lava the previous evening. At the point where we turned around, there was a group of people who hiked up the the volcano just to ski down it... pretty hardcore I might say. There were two girls who obviously did not
have much experience with skiing and it was kind of scary watching them go down the hill and fall every few seconds. Us, sliding on our butts, ended up passing them on the way down. Finally, after following a dead end road and trekking through waist-high snow through a forest, we joined up with the trail again and made it back to the van waiting for us with about half an hour to spare before sunset.
As you can see from the pictures, the volcano is totally covered in snow. This is because there was snow falling for two or three days before we tried to ascend it. In the summer, there is only snow near the top of the volcano so the waist-high snow was new snow... strange to think that there is snow in June but then again I am in the southern hemisphere!
There are more photos below