Published: January 21st 2013December 24th 2012
We arrived in Santiago on the over-night flight from Miami and were able to re-book ourselves on the early onward flight to Temuco which saved us from spending about 5 hours in the Comodoro Armando Benitez Airport. The airport in Temuco turned out to be pretty small so it was mighty easy to find the Hertz office, located just outside, so we could pick up our rental car. We had to wait a bit since we had initially arranged for the car to be ready and waiting upon our arrival on the later flight, but after about 45 minutes we were on our way in a Toyota 4-Runner. We had brought road maps with us and also were using smartphone data to use the map app, but it turned out that was more for reassurance than anything else because signage is good and the roads are very well marked.
The drive from Temuco to Villarrica was short, about an hour down Highway 5 (a portion of the Pan American Highway in Chile which is as good as any 4-lane interstate in the US) and then a smaller highway. We pulled into our hotel, the Hostería de la Colina (read our review on Trip Advisor) around noon to drop off our bags and then headed out to Parque Nacional Villarrica (Villarrica National Park) right away to get the blood flowing. Since it was Christmas Eve, the Cuevas Volcanicas de Villarrica (Villarrica Volcano Caves) had closed earlier in the day. We decided to take a short hike to view a crater (even though the park ranger advised it wasn’t recommended due to the weather which was pretty cloudy with rain in the forecast). The trail was quite nice but we were starting to feel the effects of the long travel day so we turned around to head back after about 45 minutes. That turned out to be a wise decision because about 5 minutes away from reaching the car the skies opened up with rain and sleet).
Back at the hotel, we changed and got ready for a very nice holiday dinner prepared by the owners for all the guests.
Finally, time for bed.