Insider South America Series, Chapter 1: Pucón, Chile

person_outline Ryan Turnbull & Ethan Harwood
Nov 29, 2018

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timer 13 min read

Chile is chock-full of beautiful little towns, big cities and plenty of things to do! But, the first town to chuck on your must-see list is Pucón. The small eight by eight block adventure town has a lot to offer travellers of all budgets.

HOW TO GET THERE

The best way to get in is by taking an overnight bus from Santiago, situated roughly 785 km away. You will save money on accommodation by sleeping on the bus (travel tip) and really get to make the most of the time you spend here. Bus prices can range from $12,000-$19,000 Chilean pesos ($18-30 USD) and takes about 10 hours.

WHERE TO STAY

We recommend staying at the Chili Kiwi hostel. We had a great time here! It's easy to find and located roughly 20 minutes by foot from Turbus bus station and sits right on the lakefront. The hostel has a range of themed rooms - its got tree houses, a Harry Potter room, Hobbit rooms as well as a few VW vans kitted out for your glamping needs. The best thing about this particular hostel is the owner, James. He's very friendly, knowledgeable and knows precisely what travellers want and need. As soon as we checked in, we received a full orientation on the town and all the activities we were able to do there. Even going the extra mile getting all guests a personal discount on all the tours you can do in the area… As travellers, every saving is a good saving, so clearly it's the best place to start!

WHAT TO DO

Now that we have a place to stay and kick back, what can you actually do here?

First of all, the key attraction to visit in Pucón is Villarrica (one of the NINE volcanoes in the area)

HIKE THE GREAT VOLCANO

We suggest researching first to pick the best day for it, because the last thing you want is to be stuck hiking a volcano in the rain, only to reach the summit and have the view covered by clouds. It's a fair hike to get to the top, but it is one of the best viewpoints in all of Chile! You can even arrange the trek directly through the hosel at a discounted price. Make sure to pack a picnic lunch and bring plenty of water.

OR BUNGEE INSTEAD

For the crazy adrenaline junkies out there (you know who you are), here is a little something for you. For a hefty price and unforgettable experience, you can hire a helicopter, a pilot and an instructor to fly you directly above the volcano and look at the spitting lava from above. Then you can bungee jump out of the helicopter, straight into the mouth of the volcano. Ask yourself, are you brave enough?

SALTO DEL CLARO

Next up, waterfall chasing. Salto Del Claro is a well-kept secret most don't know about. Take a photo of a hand-drawn map and receive personal directions on how to find this hidden gem! It is about a 4-5 hour round trip, and we suggest to take the hike there and try and hitch a ride home or grab a bike.

We hiked in some pretty wild weather, but it was an amazing experience. Once you follow the emergency route out of town (the road to take if the volcano erupts) and reach the top of the hill, you will trek down a very steep, and for us incredibly muddy cliff. All part of the experience though right? Finally, when you reach the bottom of the cliff, and out of the forest, you are greeted by a 90-metre waterfall crashing down in front of you! But be warned, you are going to get wet with the splash of tonnes of water crashing into the pool at the bottom! Great fun rain, hail or shine.

WET WEATHER ADVENTURES

If you are unlucky and stuck in some wet weather, the best thing to do is head to the volcanic hot springs. 33,000 Chilean pesos ($50 USD, and another Chili Kiwi discount) will get you from door to door and return. You’ll get a towel, free locker hire and entry into Termas Geometricas. With several thermal pools ranging in temperature and two waterfalls amongst the pools (note: the waterfalls are not heated by the volcano and are icy cold in winter), it is a relaxing and great day out.

VOLCANO BOARDING, ANYONE?

How many people can say they have boarded down a volcano? Here you can tube, ski or snowboard down one of the many volcanoes in the area. You can check out the many waterfalls in the area, kayak the lake, wonder the black sand beaches around town and some of Chile's most beautiful national parks. There’s always whitewater rafting and some of the famous volcanic caves if you have extra time up your sleeve.

Related: Global Destination Reviews: The Ultimate Chile Travel Guide

If you want to see some of the national parks in the area, we suggest visiting Santuario El Cañi. It's got some beautiful wildlife, and at the peak of the reserve, you will be rewarded with 360-degree views of 4 volcanoes. Most certainly something to boast about on social media ;)

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OTHER SPECIAL MENTIONS

Pucón is renowned as more of an adventure town than a party town. That being said, it is not all adventure and no party. As in most places in South America, most people will not go out until 12-1am, so you are best to make some friends in the hostel (which is super easy) and stay in until then. Chilli Kiwi has a bar that closes at 11 pm. Once the bar closes, you and your new friends can hit the town!

There are only a few possible places to go, and most will charge you a cover charge of approximately 10,000 to 15,000 pesos (USD $15 - $22). Which in all fairness is a little ridiculous, so to skip the fees, head to the number one dance floor in the area “Mamas & Tapas”. Great music, Piscos all round, and a vibe like no other. The best thing is at the end of the night you are only a short walk away from home!

This is just the beginning, there are hundreds more spots to fall in love with! For tons of photographic evidence of our adventure, follow us on the gram: “rysys_world_tour” & “ethanharwood80”.

You could be off exploring all of South America on our Charismatic Chile volunteer experience, dedicating your time to community and the environment! Let us help get you there by clicking that green button below. Adios! For now.

Hola Chile!

Ryan Turnbull & Ethan Harwood

Ryan Turnbull & Ethan Harwood

Ryan & Ethan are guest bloggers currently hopping their way around South America and are the creative minds behind By Travellers For Travellers! For more hidden gems and tons of photographic inspiration from their adventure, follow them on @rysys_world_tour & @ethanharwood80.