A few days in Pucon... and a hike up Mt Villarica

Trip Start Apr 12, 2011
Trip End Apr 01, 2012

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Flag of Chile  , Araucanía,
Saturday, April 16, 2011

Next stop, Pucon located in the lake district of Chile. We arrive to a view of a glistening volcano in the distance, apparently the thing to do here is climb the volcano....can't be that hard can it!?

Staying at small log cabin hostel (El Refugio) which a British couple have just taken over running for a few months as a way to earn some money while travelling – if only we had got there a couple weeks earlier, could have been us!

Immediately sign up to the volcano trek, long day but rewarding we’re told.  But the next day weather forecast isn’t looking too great so the trek is called off.  We decide to hang around for a couple days to see if the weather improves.

In the mean time we do a wee warm up walk to the pretty waterfalls just out of town, a round four hour trip where we don’t see any other tourists despite being half an hour drive out of town, beginning to see how easy it is to lose the crowds in Chile (especially if you’re us and travelling in the low season, we seem to be the only people heading south).

As a treat for finding the waterfalls and not getting lost, we go to the volcanic thermal pools in the evening where there are six outdoor rockpools of different temperatures all heated naturally.  I think I managed about 3 mins in hottest one before coming out to drink some water, Jonny was a bit better at standing the heat!  So all refreshed it’s off to bed, ready for the challenge to climb the volcano.

Left at 7am to get our gear and head out to the bottom of the mountain, I will have to admit we took the chairlift instead of the first hour of walking.  After the guide told us that we would be on the mountain for 10 hours we thought we should conserve our energy (as I don’t think wandering around London’s south bank qualifies us a mountaineers).  Three hours later of trekking across a mixture of fresh snow and ice at great heights using an ice pick and crampons, the views are amazing across the lake district. However, the legs are getting so tired that I’m considering not going any further but I’m promised its only twenty minutes more...so the bags are left just below the summit with a couple people that aren’t going to make it to the top and we plod onwards to be met with a strong smell of sulphur that makes it difficult to breathe and see but we have made it to the volcano crater – did I mention it was an active volcano!! – only one of the most active in South America!  2700 metres altitude – done!!

As you can see from the photos, I wasn’t quite in the mood to celebrate as much as Jonny, as I was already starting to worry about how to get back down – it’s very, very high!

And how do you get down a volcano – you sledge! Fun it may sound, sledging down vertical slopes is not what I signed up for but after a few tears I man up and off we go. Of course I cause a bit of a pile up by trying to stay in control sledging down instead of throwing myself down a mountain but once we get the hang of it, it actually was quite fun.

Will I do it again? Toughest thing we both have ever done and are still feeling it two days later, yes glad to have done it. Unlikely for me to do it again or at least until the memories of the fear of falling off the side of a mountain disappear....Jonny is more likely to...

So it’s now south bound for us - To Puerto Varas... the gateway to Patagonia....

Full photos here: http://www.flickr.com/photos/jonnymillar/sets/
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dmillar1952 on

Looks Brilliant. Love Blog. Enjoy. David xxx

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