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Published: November 15th 2015
Pucon is a small town located on the edge of lake Villarica. It is a also a good base for a spot of adventure sports, trekking & volcano climbing! How I got there:
A Pullman bus from Santiago (Terminal Sur) to Pucon 10hrs - 12,000 Pesos semi-cama. You get given a blanket & pillow & a small snack in the morning. Where I stayed:
El Refugio hostel, it is located on Palquin street practically opposite the Pullman bus terminal. An 8-bed dorm was 8000 Pesos a night. It has washing facilities, wifi (ok for surfing the web), beds comfy but pillow was a bit thin. Good kitchen & showers with hot water (more common in Chile I think) & good pressure.
They also organise tours through the hostel for reasonable prices so it's easy to start your adventure here. Day 1:
I arrived at Pullman bus station at 7:45, realised my 1st choice hostel was just over the road & headed over. I met 2 Koreans at the gate who had arrived by Tur-bus & were trying to get in but there was no answer. Whilst we were trying to sneak
wifi from Pullman a lady turned up & let us in. After deciding on our dorms I headed into town to see what was about. I walked down to the lake, found a bakery & ended in an impromptu shopping trip as I realised how hungry I was! Bread was really expensive at 2900 pesos - almost £3! - but I got salami & brie for another 2000 & found a great fruit and veg shop (Brasil st) before heading back to the hostel with my feast.
I got asked if I wanted to climb Quetrupillan volcano tomorrow (40,000 pesos) agreed & then went to take a nap as I hadn't got much sleep on the night bus.
Post-nap & shower, I was feeling much more alive & heading downstairs I found 3 other girls who were hiking the volcano the next day. We needed to grab some food for breakfast/lunch the next day so we headed to the supermarket to stock up. I managed to spend 12000 pesos although luckily the food did last me more than 1 day!
Back at the hostel it was a case of chilling whilst we waited for a guide to come
Buds made it up Quetrupillan
let us know what we would need the next day. We met Rodrigo, who would be 1 of our guides and he explained the kit which was included and what we needed to bring (plenty of food & water!) and then it was time to pack ready for in the morning before heading to bed as we had to be ready to leave at 6:20 in the morning. Day 2:
Volcano time! After a lovely 5:30 alarm, a quick breakfast & last minute packing of items that had been in the fridge before waiting to be picked up. I was not happy when I found someone had eaten the yoghurt I'd bought for breakfast! How hard is it to understand "you didn't buy it, you don't eat it!!",
We got picked up by Eric (one of the other guides) at about 6:30 & headed to the Chilli Kiwi which is down by the lake. Here we got our boots checked, supplied kit, & transferred the stuff we'd brought into the larger rucksacks we were given. Once everyone had the kit needed it was time to load up into the cars, meet our other guide Christian &
View from top of volcano
head out to the volcano. The drive took about 1hr & by the time we arrived the sun was shining.
After getting our kit out & attaching Ice picks to the bags we had a quick brief on how the day would go, an opportunity to ask questions. *There is a toilet here but bring your own paper & be prepared it's not nice as there's no flush!*
The 1st part of our hike took us into the forest which felt like I was back in the alps hiking. I soon realised my 1st mistake here though as I started sweating thanks to the thermal top & the heavier-weight trousers I'd gone for after being told it got cold & you needed plenty of layers by some others in our hostel. It was super warm down in the forest & at the 1st rest stop I couldn't wait to strip down to just my t-shirt! I'd recommend a t-shirt & jumper but no thermals. We started seeing & walking on more snow amongst the trees as we climbed towards the edge of the forest but luckily this snow was quite compacted & not too hard to walk on.
As we breached the forest line we got our 1st view of the peak we going to summit & of the surrounding mountains. This just peaked an excitement for the views at the top! We had a rest stop here & I finally managed to cool down as the wind had picked up slightly. By this point we had 2 Brazilian girls give up, one halfway through the forest & the other just after clearing the tree line.
Now was the real push as we headed up toward the summit in pure snow. In single file we started the hike & it wasn't to bad going as we followed in each others footsteps. However at 1 point the snow gave out beneath my right leg sending it shooting backwards & pulling at my hip, I thought I had just twisted it slightly & carried on. It would seem I am not built for snow walking... Too much going through a small surface area (feet) I reckon! haha. As I seemed to fall through the snow much more than anyone else even though I was walking in the footsteps of others where it should have been compacted :/
Riding around the Mapuche village
My hip gradually got worse & typically it kicked off the right knee as well. But I refused to give up although it was seriously hard work luckily there were another 2 girls who were tiring and fell back with me. Rodrigo's "it's all in the mind, your mind is stronger than your body mantra" was starting to wear as I was thinking you have no idea! Anyway I made it to the top & the views were stunning! I couldn't sit down because of my leg but I certainly enjoyed the scenery whilst having lunch & Buddy monster even made it to have a rare photo in Chile.
Thankfully the pain threshold/adrenaline/repair kicked in during lunch & afterwards it was time for some sledging. Kitted out in our "diapers" (bottom protection), helmets & gloves along with our "sled" & ice picks for brakes we were ready to slide down the mountain. The 1st slide I ended up spinning when I attempted to use my brake, losing the sled & sliding on my backside - I was glad of that diaper & my waterproof trousers then! We then had a walk to the next part we could slide on, wading through deep snow going down hill had it's advantages & disadvantages. Advantage was that it was the 1st downhill in a long time where my knees didn't hurt as it was so soft... Disadvantage: The force put strain on my hip & it started hurting again after a while, also it was tiring. The sliding however was super fun, even the last one we did, which was long & pretty steep, I used my ice pick again ended up spinning round on to my back & getting snow everywhere along with a nice patch of ice-burn on my back (oops!). Unfortunately after coming halfway down the mountain we had to walk to the forest line & back down through the trees to our start point.
Now here I took back everything I'd said about snow being the easiest downhill I'd done. The snow was either compacted to Ice or just slippy slush & I spent half the time sliding around the place. Unfortunately probably due to the right leg injury my left knee started to play up & it did get really quite painful. It seemed to take me forever to get down off the mountain - at 1 point I was walking a trail & couldn't see anyone else - but I did see some lizards on a log which was cool. I eventually made it & got high-fived by Rodrigo & then it was time to pack up & go home.
The total hike was 18km and we climbed from just under 1000m to 2350m!
It went to show just how bad my knee was when after being sat in the car for 1 hour I had to manipulate my leg with my hands in order to get it to go straight(!) after being in a 90 degree position.
We got beer & a rest at chilli kiwi & then got driven back to the hostel by Eric, ready for a shower & food! Katie, Vivienne, Katies friend & I went out to find a typical Chilean dish called Chorrillana - which consists of fries, seasoned meat & fried eggs - & is absolutely epic after a days hiking especially when it only costs about £2.50 (2500 pesos) as you share the dish. Back to the hostel we all kicked back finally, before bed. Day 3:
I woke up to rain and a slightly sore & stiff leg although the knees were ok - my body is obviously used to fixing those. Although there was some soreness in my Patella tendon on the left which I must have jarred / pulled at some point when I slid.
So today was a complete relaxed day popping out to get some fresh fruit/veg & nibbles from the supermarket when the rain let up but otherwise I uploaded photos to facebook, had a look at where I was going to head next & updating my blog. After being in Chile for a week I eventually got everything up to date so people didn't think I was still in Peru! haha. Day 4:
I wasn't sure how I would be feeling today so I hadn't planned anything & my body must have needed more rest as I didn't get up till 9. After finding my leg was much better I booked to do some riding in the afternoon & spent most the morning doing some much needed washing & sorting the rubbish from my bags.
3pm seemed to come round fast & I was off to go riding around the village of the Mapuche Village just outside the town of Pucon. I got picked up from my hostel & driven to the ranch, with 2 American guys who were from Utah. Once at the ranch we got given our horses with their Chilean saddles (not quite a western saddle) & once on board we set off for our stroll. I was very glad to see the horses were in good condition with well shod feet although I did feel a bit sorry for the 1 that had to carry one of the Americans at least the owner picked the stockiest to carry him.
Unfortunately we couldn't go the usual way due to heavy rainfall but we walked around the village, got taken up to a viewpoint you could see over the lake & an explanation on the Mapuche people & their ceremonial ground. Although not exciting it was a nice way to explore and as I want to ride around Easter Island I thought I better ease myself back into the saddle gently! haha. After our tour we got homemade food from the mother of our guide including cheese & meat empenadas, a fermented drink, bread & jam which rounded off the tour nicely.
Back at the hostel I went out to buy my bus ticket to Puerto Montt for the next day unfortunately the morning bus was full & I had to book onto the afternoon bus. This meant I then had to go book a hostel for a night in Puerto Montt. Day 5:
My bus was leaving at 16:15 meaning I had half a day free after check out at 10:30. Luckily thanks to my sorting a couple of days ago it did not take me long to pack & check out. Unfortunately when I went to pay for the riding I had done yesterday I found I had been ROBBED! Think about 50000 pesos had gone (£50) so seriously annoyed but I can't be sure when it went missing I suspect the cleaning may have pinched it whilst I was in & out of the room/my stuff doing my washing yesterday -_-
Oh well it could have been worse as that was the only thing missing & with what has happened in Paris & such it's no big deal really! So after checking out I went to get more money out the bank as I only had 10,000 left and got some bread for lunch. Back at the hostel I sorted the food I would be using & that to leave as free, ate lunch & checked up on bus times to Chiloe for tomorrow morning as well as booking a hostel in Ancud on the island. I then started this blog post (best try & keep up to date now), tried to budget for the next week - trying to find tour prices on line was nigh on impossible - and booked my hostel for Thursday night before my flight to Easter Island. Booking.com helpfully told me it was only 6 days until I will be in Noa Ariki - my hostel on Easter island - meaning I have less than 3weeks left of my travels 😞
After a quick hop to the supermarket to get some bus food (crisps/cookies/bread & water) I had a last minute re-arrange packed up my stuff & headed for the JAC bus terminal at 4 to catch my 16:15 bus. I was glad to find I had the seats to myself so stretched out & took a nap. I did have to budge up when some locals hopped on for a short while between Osorno & Puerto Varas but the bus was reasonably comfortable and had a toilet. The journey took just over 5hrs as we arrived in Puerto Montt bus terminal at 21:25. I then walked to my Hostel for the night which was 2 blocks away on Miraflores heading left out of the bus terminal. Hostel:
Residencial La Trinchera 17,000 Pesos for a single room, shared bathroom incl. towel & breakfast. Where next:
Chiloe to see Penguins! *hopefully*
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