Pucón – Sur Chico
For decades Pucón has been one of the most popular tourist destinations in Chile. The small town on the shores of Lake Villarica was once considered a playground for the rich, but today Pucón has a reputation as a Mecca for adventure and extreme sports.
These range from dog sledding, skiing or snowboarding (in winter) to volcano climbing, rafting, kayaking, mountain biking and canyoning (in summer). The numerous volcanic thermal baths in the surrounding countryside, which can also be visited at night, attract visitors all year round. Especially in February, Pucón is literally overrun by tourists: May it be package tourists, family vacationers from Santiago, adventurous backpackers, New Age followers or eco-activists. Hundreds of so-called expats have contributed to the impressive touristic infrastructure of Pucón and operate small hotels, restaurants, pubs, or organize tours and expeditions in the lake region. If you just want to relax from one of the numerous activities, the black sandy shore of Lake Villarica is the place to be.
Climbing the Villarrica, one of the most active volcanoes in the world, is almost a must for most tourists in Pucón. Like an ant road, the snake of the visitors pulls up the lava rock slopes from the early morning. About a dozen agencies offer the ascent to the snow covered cone as a day trip with its crater enclosing a lava lake. On the summit, you can sometimes see glowing lava on the leeward side of the crater. The descent is mainly a slide on the seat of the pants, using the ice axes as a brake.
Among the hot springs in the surrounding area of Pucón, the Termas Geometricas to the south of Villarica, whose basins are connected by wooden footbridges, are considered the most beautiful.
The Huerquehue National Park with an area of 12500 hectares is literally a jewel within the Chilean national park system. Only 35 kilometres from Pucón, it offers the best opportunities for nature lovers and hikers. They can expect crystal clear lakes and beautiful araucaria forests. The ‘Sendero de los Huerquenes’ leads from the visitor centre at Lago Tinquilco to the mountain lakes Chico, Toro and Verde, which are lined up like pearls, and from there to the Refugio Renahue and on to the thermal baths at the Rio Blanco. The short version with a visit to the three central mountain lakes is a popular day trip. The ‘Sendero de los Huerquenes’ was created in 1997 and is also offered as a guided hike by the CONAF. The path is well marked so that orientation is no problem.