Many moons ago, I spent a few days in a beautiful corner of Chile: Pucón. Pucón, about 480 mi (775 km) south of Santiago, sits on the eastern shorelines of Lake Villarica in the region called Araucanía, looked over by the Villarica volcano. The town by now has gained reknown for its beautiful setting and the opportunity for great outdoor activities (skiing, hiking, white river rafting, hot springs, etc.). Maybe it is now a little too popular but its setting is definitely gifted and well worth going down the beaten path to it. Warning: The photos are “vintage”, meaning pre-digital and by a dozen years or so! They may not do justice to this part of Chile – but I hope you can imagine…
Nine of us drove down in a minivan, leaving Santiago in the early evening and arriving early the next morning after I-don’t-know-how-many-hours of driving down the Panamerican Highway which was one lane in each direction most of the way (back then). Thankfully, I didn’t have driving duties so I could try to sleep some. It was a fun group and a fun ride!
Once in Pucón, we stayed at a hotel on the shores of Lake Villarica, not far from the town itself but not in it. It was an idyllic spot with a peaceful view of the lake, home-cooked meals, and easy access to the places we wanted to go.
The Villarica volcano
One of our first outings was to go up the Villarica volcano, to the top of the ski slopes that sit on it. Ski season had just ended so I was bummed as I would have loved to ski down a volcano!
Salto del León
We were lucky that one in our group knew the area as his sister had a house in Pucón. That got us to see some places perhaps less visited by, er, visitors. El Salto del León was one of these places. Beautiful waterfalls in a gorgeous setting.
The Trancura Valley
The Trancura River is born in the Andes near Pucón and runs its course to the Pacific Ocean. Snow melt contributes to its waters and the rapid fall in altitude makes its waters fast. Perfect for white water rafting. I had never white water rafted before and was not sure about it but it was lots of fun though the water was FRIGID and we were ill-prepared for that!
That area, sort of east-southeast of Pucón, was simply beautiful. Lush greens and other vegetation, old bridges, and little development made me feel I was enjoying a unique place.
When I returned to Chile in 2010, I wanted to return to Pucón but there was so much of Chile I had not seen yet that those places (the Atacama desert, Patagonia, etc.) took precedence and my time there ended without returning to Pucón. But, oh, I shall return!