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Published: December 31st 2008
Day 632 (21.12.08)
Sometime during our night bus from Mendoza to Santiago we stopped for a border crossing and that over we continued on our way. We arrived into Chile's capital at around 5am and with almost 4 hours to wait until our bus to Pucón we looked for a bench to call home as Mark gallantly stayed awake to look after our bags while Chrissie tried to sleep off the heavy cold that had hit her over the last couple of days.
Eventually the time rolled around for us to climb aboard another bus which over the next 12 hours would take us to our destination for Christmas.
Pucon was a sight for sore eyes as we pulled into the bus station. It had been a long trip! Walking through town we arrived at Ecole, a hostel in town we had booked into for xmas. It was a stunning place and as we had arrived a little earlier than planned we booked into a gorgeous double room with a bay window looking out to Pucon´s imposing snow covered volcano, Villarrica.
Unfortunately we found that the hostel didn't have a kitchen to cook in so we took
full advantage of the vegetarian restaurant and had a great meal before turning in for the night.
Day 633 (22.12.08)
After a wonderful lie in (well it is our Christmas holiday) we went for a walk around town to see what Pucon had to offer and after wandering through the pretty town surrounded by swiss style wooden buildings we found ourselves on the shore of the lake watching the volcano gently smoking in the distance.
With lunch approaching, we put together a picnic and headed to the lake's volcanic beach for a feast before walking back to Ecole where we had an afternoon in the courtyard hammocks.
With the day slipping away we decided a little planning would be good and went off to some tour agencies to check out crimbo activities. After checking around we learned that the weather later in the week was supposed to be turning bad so booked on a tour to climb the volcano for the following day. Slightly underprepared we hit the supermarket for some energy foods and went back to the room to pack. We were moving to another hostel the following day. Ecole was beautiful but we really
wanted to cook ourselves Christmas dinner so we'd found ourselves a lovely homely place with a big kitchen at Hostel Emalafquen which at half the price would also save our pockets a little. We treated ourselves to Mexican for dinner at the cheapest restaurant in town.
Day 634 (23.08.12)
Our day was to begin with a rush of final packing and checking out before going to our tour office to get kitted up. We had read of a recommendation in the Tourist Information office for our company Sierra Nevada and had opted for them.
Pulling on our mountaineering boots, trousers and packing our rucksacks with crampons, helmet and other mountaineering type things we piled into our minibus and drove to the base of the volcano. Strapping our ice axe to our bags we started the climb. The first section was not in snow, but was loose shale which was really hard work. An hour later (although it felt like longer) we arrived exhausted to the top of the ski chairlift where we had a break to recuperate.
Climbing further we started our assent in the snow. With the sun beating down we climbed further and further
with views over the lake and of the surrounding valley getting better and better. It took us another 4 hours of steady climbing and regular breaks before we reached the summit. It was not only an unforgettable view but a real sense of achievement as well.
Walking around the rim and coughing slghtly from the active volcano's gases occasionally hitting us we saw the incredible 360 views from the summit as well as the smoking and gurgling crater below us. After taking some time at the top, it was time to make our way down again. Coming down was however a lot less effort than on the way up as we were not walking! Strapping our 'slidy slidy bum protector' on we 'sledged' down the volcano. Soooooo much fun! We had been really lucky as the previous two days had been marred by too much ice for sliding and even not possible to summit due to the conditions. We had a perfect day for the climb and slide!
After the final walk down to the van we drove back to the office and they gave us a nice cold beer to celebrate with. Superb. The agency had been
excellent with great guides and good equipment, we'd definitely recommend them. Big Christmas thanks go to Mum and Dad Smith, we spent some of the Christmas money they'd given us on this volcano trip.
We moved over to our new digs where we would be spending the next 5 nights, the longest we'd spent in one place since leaving Melbourne. We gladly unpacked our stuff so we wouldn't have to live out of our bags for a while. Scrubbing up after our climb we relaxed for the afternoon. As well as the climb we had decided to go out for an evening at the hot springs. It was dark as we arrived and we managed to find a great quietish pool to relax in for a couple of hours - a nice way to sooth the muscles after the days exertions.
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