Pucón is a Chilean city located in the Araucanía region, approximately 800 km south of Santiago. It is a very popular destination since it offers a variety of sports and adventure activities (kayaking, trekking, skydiving, water skiing, snow skiing) but also more relaxing activities, like hot springs. But the most famous place to visit around is the Villarrica National Park, the centerpiece of three volcanoes: Villarrica (2,860m), Quetrupillán (2,360m) and Lanín (3,776m) - this last one in the border with Argentina. The park is huge and it includes other mountains like the Quinquilil volcano (2,050m).
We spent one day exploring one of the sides (and the most popular) of the Villarrica National Park. First we went to the volcano base and the ski center. It's possible to drive here with a common car like ours (VW Fox) although it's not a paved road. Of course the ski center was not active since there's no snow at this time of the year. Thus we walked a little bit through the mountain to take some photos. After all, Villarrica volcano is one of Chile's most active volcanoes, also known as Rucapillán, a Mapuche word meaning "Pillan's house". We could see some smoke coming out from the volcano top which was pretty cool!
We also did the trail "Mirador Los Cráteres", a three hours walk with beautiful views of the volcano Villarrica and the surrounding area. The trail starts at the CONAF parking lot, a few km after the park main entrance. The first half of the trail is through a winding forest with up and down slopes. The first viewpoint "Mirador Fillkungue" we got a view of the valleys that surround the volcano. This viewpoint is well marked with a wooden platform where we sited and relaxed for a while. Following the same trail and one km after we arrived into "Mirador Los Cráteres". This last km was different from the previous ones because the trail was along the lava river flows. There were many interesting formations in the rocks and we walked through that amazing craters in this part of the trail.It was our highest altitude until now (1,425m)! The views of the volcano were also great but unfortunately the views of the lakes below were not so good (starting to get foggy in the afternoon).
Close to Pucón it's also possible to visit the waterfalls Ojos del Caburgua and the Blue Lagoon (1,000$CH per person). In less than one hour it is possible to walk around and take some pictures. While there the weather started to get dark and rainy so we haven't spent more time there.
We also visited the town Curarrehue (20 km from Pucón), the heart of the Mapuche gastronomy. In fact, their gastronomy is what mostly stands out when visiting this town. The Mapuche are a group of indifenous inhabitants of south-central Central and southwestern Argentina and their gastronomy is based on the use of different food found in nature, through fruit recollection, cultivation and animal grazing and breeding. And that's why their gastronomy changes in accordance to the season and the area they are based. But essentially their cuisine is based on seeds, cereals, tubers, legumes, vegetables, fruits and all the food that can be obtained from the land. Our idea was to go to the famous restaurant of the Chilean well-know Chef Anita Epulef, but when we arrived there it was closed for schools all the week so we had to go to another one. It was a small restaurant and very local (not touristic at all) but we ate the meal they were serving to everyone there and it was tasty and fresh with pine nuts, salad, beans and other vegetables.
After lunch we also visited the small Trawupeyun Intercultural Village Cultural Center with some pictures, customs and traditions of the Mapuche people. It seemed to have some cultural activities during the year but during our visit it was just us in the building (and not many things to be seen there).
Pucón is also very famous for its hot springs ("termas") and there's even an exclusive road for all of them. The most famous are Los Pozones (36km from pucón), Huife (33km from Pucón) and Quimeyco (30km from Pucón). We are not huge fans of hot springs so we didn't do it. It started raining cats and dogs and we went to our place to rest with an amazing lake view close to Pucón town.
Next stop: Santiago (Chile)