The beautiful lake district

Trip Start Aug 25, 2010
Trip End Ongoing

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Where I stayed
Victors Guesthouse

Flag of Chile  , Lake District,
Thursday, January 20, 2011

Pucon sits on the edge of Lake Villarica, but it's main focal point is the perfect cone of Volcano Villarica, which looms behind and can be seen from almost any point in the town.

The town itself its mainly just a tourist hub, with its main street dedicated to tour agencies offering an array of adventures. The one we were really keen on doing was climbing Volcano Villarica, so the day after arriving in Pucon we booked ourselves onto the tour.

At 6am we marched off to the tour company who drove us to the base of the volcano; from there we changed into our attire - jumpsuit, garters and hard hat. To avoid the first hour of walking on the rock we chose to take the chair lift up across the ski field to the base of the volcano; the first one we had been on, so we stood there anxiously waiting for the car to lift us off our feet. The cable car was reasonably slow, which was reassuring and it did not swing too much, but whenever we looked down we could not help but think how unsafe these things are, as there was nothing to stop us tipping over the edge to a long fall to the rocks below. Luckily we got to the other end and jumped off only to be nearly missed by the car as it swung around the other end. After our graceful dismount we started the slow climb up to the summit. From here we were walking on the snow and as the sun came up and the clouds lifted we could look back down to the town and lake below. We reached the top after a 5 hour climb and were able to walk around the crater of the volcano, however, you do not want to stay there for very long, as the fumes were intoxicating and smelt dreadful. There was also so much gas coming from the volcano that we could not see the bubbling lava inside, but we were told that on some days it is possible. Feeling a little light headed from the fumes it was time to head back down. For the return journey we had been given plastic sledges, which were no more than a sheet of plastic, just big enough to cover your bum. Channels had been made down the side of the volcano enabling you to slide down, so with the sledge snug under our bums we pushed ourselves off... It was the most fun we have had in a long time - Carla was practically crying with laughter all the way down, as Aff crashed into her and pushed her faster down the hill - would definitely highly recommend it!!

After the fun of the volcano we thought we would relax the following day, but the beaches are not very good around the lake, so we decided to hire bikes and cycle to an alternative beach on the lake. The lady in the bike rental shop had said it was not too far, so we set off. What she had forgot to mention was that the majority of the journey, was on the worst road in history, with large stones, holes and just about every possible obstruction for a bike. After cycling in the mid day heat for over an hour, we started to feel quite disheartened, as the beach was still no where in sight, at that moment a pickup truck drove past with a group of Chilean guys who waved, so we seized the opportunity and asked for a lift. This was the best decision ever, the drive to the beach was still another 15 minutes (by bike this would have taken an hour on that road) and when we arrived they invited us to join them. One of them had been on holiday there several times and knew of a waterfall further along, so we followed them and ended at this waterfall by ourselves, so spent the afternoon jumping off the upper ledge into the ice cold pool below. The guys were so friendly they agreed to drive us back and go out with them in the evening. At night they picked us up took us to a local place and then drove us out to a local club on the outskirts of town, but in the end we ended up staying in the parking area chatting and drinking the local drink pisco cola. They were all such great guys, sharing everything with us and making us feel as if we had been friends for a long time, apparently this is the Chilean way!

The following day we decided to check out Villarica, a nearby town, which is less touristy and has nicer views from the lake with the volcano behind. From here we also went to hot springs called Geotermetrics, which are a series of 17 geometrically-shaped hot pools built into a lush green valley. The location was really breath-taking and the pools, steamy, in fact some were so hot (over 40 degrees) it was difficult to even put your toe in!!

Before we left the lake district we decided we should eat the local lamb asado, so went to eat in the traditional Mapuche village, where we sat on a wooden table inside a small hut and our lamb was cooked over an open fire - delicious.
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