Chile may have been crowned South America’s most adventurous tourism destination two years running, but there are plenty of visitors yet to discover what this country has to offer. For those looking for a high-adrenaline vacation, look no further than Pucón, Chile’s capital of adventure. Read on for five reasons why you should be checking out this small town soon.
Pucón, Chile’s most famous attraction: Volcán Villarrica
The awe-inspiring photographs of Volcán Villarrica erupting in March 2015 might have hit international headlines, but this perfectly conical volcano is safe for tourists. For a truly adventurous experience, hike up to the crater for a glimpse of bubbling lava and panoramic views across the Araucania Region.
But the fun doesn’t stop there. From the top, tour groups slide back down the volcano on their bottoms using sleds as they skim the snow that hangs around the crater year-round. At the start of the summer season (October and November), there’s even more snow, meaning you can sometimes slide practically all the way back down!
It’s a hiking hotspot
A short distance from Pucón, Chile lies Parque Nacional Huerquehue, a small national park filled with groves of ancient Araucaria (monkey puzzle trees) and gleaming lakes.
A series of trails, including some multi-day hikes start from the park ranger’s office and wind through the incredible landscapes, with breathtaking views of Volcán Villarrica guaranteed on sunny days.
And the water around Pucón is pretty inviting too
Although Futaleufú along the Carretera Austral further south is Chile’s best-known white-water rafting destination, Pucón isn’t a bad choice for this high-adrenaline sport either. The Río Trancura, a river that runs into Lago Villarrica, the lake upon which Pucón is situated, is the most popular place for catching the rapids.
Flowing through forests of Araucaria and steep valleys, the Trancura offers grade III rapids in its lower sections (ideal for families and beginners) and III and VI in its upper parts.
But the waters around Pucón, Chile aren’t just for high-energy activities. In the evenings, relax in one of the region’s numerous hot springs – Termas Geométricas is perhaps the most luxurious of all, with its Japanese design and seventeen thermal pools.
It’s a winter paradise
Outside of the summer months and when snow covers the entire flanks of the volcano, Volcán Villarrica transforms into one of Chile’s top ski centers, with its 20 runs for all abilities and mind-blowing views of the surrounding lakes and countryside. Local tour agencies can organize skiing tours, just don’t be surprised if Volcán Villarrica is still gently smoking as you ski or snowboard down her slopes!
But if skiing’s less your style, join a snowshoeing tour from Pucón to the Cani Sanctuary, a privately-owned reserve which boasts sensational, panoramic views.
Don’t forget the horseback riding
If you’d prefer to adventure from the vantage point of your own friendly stead, then look no further than horseback riding tours in Pucón, which range in duration from a few hours to an epic two weeks.
These expeditions normally head into the wildernesses of Huerquehue or Villarrica National Parks with some even crossing the border into neighboring Argentina. Riders can meet local people as they learn more about the unique culture and history of the Araucaria Region.