Monday, January 30, 2012

Pucon, Chile 11-14 Jan 2012

Pucon is a touristy town by Lake Villarrica. It was cold when I arrived 7:30am in the morning. The town was still asleep. I found my hostel with the last spot available, lucky as I didn’t make any reservation. I will have to make reservation from now on because it is the high season till February. The price for accommodation has also risen due to the high season. 

I have booked myself for the hike up to the crater of the snowcapped Volcan Villarrica standing at 2840m above sea level. Climbing to the top is non technical, on a clear non windy day is easy. As I walked to the town, I realized how enormous it is. I can’t imagine how it will be hiking with crampons, ice axe, and windproof clothing. 

We started at 7am, by the time we gathered everyone and leave, it was almost 8am. It was a 45mins drive to the Ski Station where one can choose to take the ski lift up for the first 300m. There were many people, around 200 people attempt to climb each day, but not all make it up. The inclination was about 45° upwards but we did zig zag to reduce the inclination. We had 2 guides one at the front and one at the end, we were given a briefing on how to use the ice axe and how to walk on the snow. It was not as tough as I thought it will be. We did a few stops on the way to admire the spectacular view of the other volcanoes around. It got a bit tougher near to the top as the wind picked up. At times I could feel that I will be blown away if not for my ice axe. 

We finally made it up by 1pm, the smell of sulfur was strong, we had to keep our face covered from the toxic smoke. The wind was extremely strong on the rim, I could hardly stand straight for a photo. We spent about 30 minutes to enjoy the view and took tons of photos then it the way down. Here is the best part of the whole trip, I usually do not enjoy hiking down a mountain but this time we slide! :-) We slide down on our butt most part of the snow slope, it was so much fun. Best experience ever!

I met Natali from Canada in the hostel, we both decided to rent a bike the next day. We cycled thru the 20km forest and river, we stopped at Salto Carileufu, a river with crystal clear icy water. It was refreshing to soak in the water just for a couple of seconds. :-) Then we continue to Ojos del Caburgua, a waterfall that has a circle pool with 4 falls running into it. Awesome!

The hard part was at the end where we had to cycle back 20km on the main road with extremely hot weather and strong wind blowing against us. We did the entire 40km in 5 hours including a 1.5 hours break. 

Pucon is a beautiful town with lots of nature and adventure but it is just too crowded and busy. From here I took a bus to San Martin de Los Andes in the Argentinean side. 

Hostel Navita – P90000 after 10% discount from HOLA with breakfast and WIFI

Bus from Valparaiso to San Martin de Los Andes – P12000
Ski lift – P6000 one way

Hiking Volcan Villarrica – P36000
5 hours bike rental – P5000
Entrance to Ojos del Caburgua – P500

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