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Pucón: climbing Chile's most active volcano

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My next stop was Pucón. My bus arrived a little late, so when I got to the hostel, the first thing the staff asked was did I want to climb volcano Villarrica the following day, and if so I needed to sign up right then. This had been recommended by people I'd met, so when I was advised that this could be my only day to climb, I signed myself up.

The 6.30am safety briefing was fairly intense, I started to wonder if perhaps I should have thought this through a little. They provide you with ice boots and a backpack full of gear for the climb, including an ice pick. It had been a while since I studied geography and I hadn't really considered that climbing a volcano meant climbing on ice, something I'm definitely not used to!

When you arrive at the volcano you have the choice to take the chair lift or walk, I followed advice from other travellers to get the ski lift and conserve energy for later. I'm pretty glad I did that as I did need a lot of energy for the next bit of the climb!

Walking on ice is very hard work and I was in all honesty nervous when walking on the ice, but the views at each rest point make it worthwhile. It's spectacular and we had a clear day so we could see far and wide. I might have had a little slip once on the way up, but otherwise made it up there slowly but surely.

When you get near the top, we split into smaller groups as not everyone can be at the summit at once. You're not allowed to spend too much time up there since Villarrica is an active volcano, to be precise it's the most active volcano in Chile, and so there are poisonous fumes up there. Thankfully, the levels of dangerous gases were deemed low enough that I did not need to wear the gas mask up there. We were lucky enough to see some real life lava from the crater, it's apparently rare, and before we knew it, we were being herded back down to prepare for the descent.

They've really taken advantage of the fact that ice is slippery and dug chutes or slides in the ice, making this the most fun and also the quickest way to get down an icy volcano. I may have constantly been slowing myself down with the ice pick, but it was pretty funny.

I was also glad to make it to the bottom though. I had a great experience, and am really glad I didn't overthink it before I signed up, otherwise I may not have actually done it and that would have been a crying shame!

Pucón itself is super small and extremely touristy so I went out of town on the next two days. I went for a day hike in the national park on the Sendero Tres Lagos with two girls who did the volcano climb with me, and to some hot springs with a group from my hostel. Both were relaxing days following a tiring volcano climb!

The day of the hot springs was lovely until my journey back. I had allowed 4 hours to leave the hot springs, travel for an hour and have 2 hours to eat and get ready for my bus up to Valparaiso.

Unfortunately, there's one road in and out of Pucón and most of Chile seemed to be driving on it that evening. I was convinced I was going to miss my bus, and the journey back took nearly 4 hours. When we finally arrived in Pucón, I had 15 minutes to make it back to my hostel, pick up my bags and leg it to the bus station which was about 10 minutes away. I made it with about 3 minutes to spare! Unfortunately I had not had time to make my food and I was on a 12 hour overnight bus journey so dinner consisted of nuts and raisins, but I had made my bus!

Posted by Rebecca Heller 16:28 Archived in Chile Tagged springs volcanoes Comments (0)

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