I soon found out that this would be a real shame as it was a very picturesque little town with lots of swiss-chalet style buildings and located on the edge of Lago Villarica, watched over by the gently smoking Volcano of the same name.
I wasted no time and hopped on a rented bike to explore the countryside. Having rode a few km out of town, I quickly ducked onto a more scenic route off the main road and it took me through some very pretty countryside and past some stunning rivers, bordered by dense pine forests where I decided to have my lunch, watching some locals fishing. I move further down the road, all the while having a great view of the Volcano in the distance and by chance came across a beautiful series of pools and waterfalls called
Los Ojos de Caburga. The waterfall itself was nothing particularly special but the plunge pool below and the pools further upstream were a deep sapphire blue and perfectly clear making for quite a sight. I had met a german girl at the falls who was also cycling and joined forces to continue along the road after some very Bear Grylls-esque river crossings crawling along fallen tree trunks and drift-wood. It was only another 5km to the lake we were heading for but it was all uphill and in the beating afternoon sun it was quite a struggle. We finally reached Lago Caburga, a much more secluded version of Villarica but still with plenty of the sun-seeking Chilean hordes complete with jet-skis in tow to disrupt the tranquility. It was still a very nice pl
ace to stop and relax for a while. Having finally reached Pucon after a bit of a struggle I found that I had accidentally cycled 50km which was defeinitely not what was promised by the guys at the agency! Having gorged on a couple of steaks to get my energy back, I quickly had to get to bed as my action-junkie side demanded that I wake at 3am the next morning to climb a volcano.
4 hours of sleep later I woke to climb the volcano I had seen the whole past day. We set out at 4am and began our ascent at around 1400m. The first 400m were mostly on scree slopes and were fairly dull walking but we soon reached the snowline and made our way up the volcano proper. The sun was yet to rise, which was definitely an advantage, and the going was fairly easy, more or less like climbing a ski slope (at points I think we actually were as it is a small ski resort in the winter).
When we got in sight of the crater, we had to put our crampons on and get the ice axes out as a slightly steeper acsent awaited. The altitude started to play its part and the sun rose so it all got slightly harder. But the top was still reached fairly easily and we were treated to incredible views over the whole region. Not only that, we were able to do a complete circuit around the rim of the crater seeing right down into the depths of the smoking volcano. At points the sulphorous gases were too much and breathing became a problem, but seeing the entire of the Chilean (and some of the Argentine) lake district was well worth the potential respiratory problems I face in the future. Getting back down was much more straightforward; we sat down and slid down the entire way. It left everyone soaking from the fast-melting snow but it was great fun.
Continuing my insomniac phase, I had to wake at 5am the next day to catch an early bus south-bound to Osorno to decide my next destination.
Following a tiring night bus down south, I found myself wandering the streets for a hostel I had booked but soon gave up with that search and headed for the nearest one I could find. Having decided to move things slightly quicker than planned down south, I only had two days to enjoy the town and its surrounds.